Cuban green heron and gallinule

Northern waterthrush, 6 March 2017

Still, after our earlier blog post about that day, 6 March 2017 at Las Terrazas nature reserve in Cuba. We went to a stream; where we saw this northern waterthrush; a North American species wintering here.

Rowing boats, 6 March 2017

We continued to a lake; rowing boats there.

Common gallinule, 6 March 2017

And this common gallinule.

A red-tailed hawk flying.

An Antillean palm swift flying over the water. This species lives only in Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica.

Green heron, 6 March 2017

Near the bank, in shallow water, a green heron looks for food.

Green heron, Cuba, 6 March 2017

I remember this species from Costa Rica.

A double-crested cormorant swims.

A spotted sandpiper on the bank.

The bus continues to Viñales.

Along the motorway, another lake. Cuban black hawk (an endemic species), snail kite and little blue heron are present.

So are brown pelicans.

Farm buildings, 6 March 2017

We pass colourful farm buildings.

Farm buildings, on 6 March 2017

Palm leaf roof buildings are especially for processing tobacco for the famous Cuban cigars.

Mountains, 6 March 2017

We pass mountains, with typically west Cuban shapes.

Shop, 6 March 2017

At a viewpoint, a small shop with, eg, Che Guevara t-shirts.

We arrived in Viñales. Stay tuned!

This video says about itself:

Viñales is a beautiful valley with limestone (karst) landscape. It is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

According to UNESCO: “The Viñales Valley is an outstanding karst landscape in which traditional methods of agriculture (notably tobacco growing) have survived unchanged for several centuries.”

In the video: Viñales town, views to the valley from Los Jasmines & La Ermita, Mural de la Prehistoria, Los Aquaticos, Gruta de Viñales (or de Silencio?), Cueva del Indio, Cueva de San Miguel (and Palenque de los Cimarrones), and more …

Recorded April 2015 in 4K (Ultra HD) with Sony AX100.

Cuban oriole and red-legged honeycreepers, 6 March

This video from Cuba says about itself:

9 September 2011

Waterfall and Orchidarium (botanical garden) in the province of Pinar del Rio.

Still after our first blog post about 6 March 2017, on that day in western Cuba.

The earlier blog post ended about an indigo bunting at Las Terrazas.

Indigo bunting 6 March 2017

And we will continue now with that indigo bunting’s photo. It is a young bird, much less blue than adults.

Red-legged honeycreeper male, 6 March 2017

Our bus continued to trees with many red-legged honeycreepers; like this male.

Red-legged honeycreeper female, 6 March 2017

And this female.

Red-legged thrush, 6 March 2017

Not far away, a red-legged thrush.

Red-legged thrush, on 6 March 2017

Cuban oriole, 6 March 2017

And another endemic species: a Cuban oriole.

Stay tuned!

Cuban hummingbird, trogon and woodpecker nest

This October 2016 video is called Soroa & Las Terrazas, Cuba.

After 5 March 2017 came 6 March 2017, our first full day in Cuba. We had arrived in Soroa, and would go from there to Las Terrazas, and then to Viñales.

Soroa dwelling, 6 March 2017

There was wildlife inside our dwellings in Soroa: at least one frog and one anolis lizard.

Also beautiful wildlife outside: a great Caribbean grackle calls.

A cattle egret and a turkey vulture fly past.

A palm warbler in a bush.

A black-whiskered vireo calls.

An American redstart.

A Cuban emerald hummingbird flies around.

An American kestrel sits on top of a palm tree.

We leave. A bit further, a West Indian woodpecker at its nest.

West Indian woodpecker female, 6 March 2017

This is a special nest. It is at the top of a telephone pole. An old telephone pole, no longer in use. When the phone company renovated the poles, they built a new pole right beside the old pole, which they left for the woodpeckers to nest.

Las Terrazas, 6 March 2017

We arrive at Las Terrazas nature reserve.

Loggerhead kingbird, 6 March 2017

We see loggerhead kingbirds. Some have small branches for building nests in their bills.

A tawny-shouldered blackbird. They live only in Cuba and Haiti.

And a yellow-faced grassquit.

A special bird: a Cuban trogon. This is the national bird of Cuba: its red, white and blue colours are the same as the Cuban flag; and it lives only in Cuba.

Another Cuban endemic bird: a Cuban green woodpecker.

And yet another one: a yelllow-headed warbler.

A Las Sagra’s flycatcher. A species which only lives in Cuba, the Bahamas and Cayman islands.

A northern parula: it winters here before going on its way back to North America.

A stripe-headed tanager, aka western spindalis.

Greater Antillean grackle, 6 March 2017

A greater Antillean grackle.

Northern mockingbird sings, 6 March 2017

A northern mockingbird sings in a tree.

Northern mockingbird, 6 March 2017

Cuban peewee, 6 March 2017

And a Cuban peewee; which lives only in Cuba and the Bahamas.

Cuban peewee, on 6 March 2017

Finally, a beautiful North American migrant: an indigo bunting.

Stay tuned!

Cuban songbirds, vultures and brown pelicans

This video from the USA says about itself:

9 February 2015

The turkey vulture’s see-through nostrils result in one of the most sensitive noses in the animal kingdom. It is estimated that the turkey vulture can smell the scent of rotting flesh in concentrations as tiny as a few parts per billion in the air. The olfactory lobe of its brain, responsible for processing smells, is particularly large compared to that of other animals and combined with the unique design of its nostrils, gives the turkey ‘buzzard’ the superpower of smell.

As I reported, on 5 March 2017 we landed at Varadero airport in Cuba. Turkey vultures were the first birds we saw flying there. We would see them often in Cuba.

After passing the young African Cuban immigration woman, from Varadero, we went west by bus.

Not only many turkey vultures, also many cattle egrets.

Matanzas in Cuba from our bus, 5 March 2017

In Matanzas city, a mourning dove on a wire.

Tree in Bacunayagua, Cuba, 5 March 2017

We arrived at Bacunayagua viewpoint. It not only had fine views. There were also trees like the ones on the photo, which attracted birds.

Like northern mockingbirds. And greater Antillean grackles: very common in Cuba, but confined to Cuba and a few other islands. Also, loggerhead kingbird: confined to the Caribbean as well. The two house sparrows represented a species which has spread to most continents. The palm warbler was on spring migration, back to its nesting grounds in Canada and the extreme north of the USA.

Vintage taxi at lake in Cuba, 5 March 2017

We continued to a lake. Several horse carts and cars were parked there, including this vintage taxi.

In the water swam pied-billed grebe, least grebe, brown pelican, ring-necked duck, lesser scaup, a few ruddy ducks. On a bank, a great egret. Flying: great blue heron, royal tern.

We arrived in Soroa town.

Stay tuned!

Journey to Cuba’s birds

This video says about itself:

Full Documentary: Cuba, Natural Paradise

15 March 2016

The Cuban mangrove forest is still an unknown world concealing biological mysteries and treasures which will astonish the world; a forgotten paradise ruled over by an impenetrable hell of dangerous crocodiles, manatees, birds, hutia, marshy labyrinths, and myriads of mosquitoes.

Science has not yet studied the complexity of its creatures and the balance of its ecosystems. And that is part of the charm of the Cuban mangrove forest, knowing that it remains exactly as it always has been, impenetrable, solitary, virgin. It is such a complex world that virtually nothing is known about it. And nonetheless, all its strength and complexity, all its biodiversity and richness, are due to tiny, intrepid travellers that still today, faithful to their spirit, continue to set out on anonymous journeys, crossing the sea and sowing the seeds of paradise.

The mangrove’s success in colonising is due both to its extraordinary evolutionary adaptations, making it possible to live in an acid, briny environment, and to its incredible method of reproduction.

When the mangroves reproduce, they develop what will be the most astonishing means of genetic expansion, colonisers equipped to travel vast distances: their seeds.

A coral world surrounds the Cuban archipelago.

Enormous coral structures, the result of thousands of years of patient calcareous construction, constitute the reefs which fill the coasts of Cuba with life. The coral reef is composed of millions of tiny filtering polyps capable of turning the solar energy and the scarce nutrients in the water into organic matter available for other organisms in the coral community. Starting with them, the chain becomes increasingly complex, and thousand of different life forms develop, from the fragile invertebrates to the most highly evolved, complex fish.

Because Cuba is an island, there are many endemic species, living only in Cuba. 95% of Cuba’s 62 amphibian species are endemic. So are 37% of its 57 freshwater fish species; 79% of its 155 reptile species; and 32% of its 52 mammal species. As for birds, 26 species live only in Cuba. Also, 22 species live only in Cuba plus on a few other islands like the Bahamas.

On 5 March 2017, our journey to the wildlife of Cuba started.

Our plane was already above the Atlantic ocean, west of Scotland, when one of the passengers had heart problems. The plane had to go back east, to Manchester airport in England, so the patient could go to a hospital.

Then, we flew west again, over Ireland; then, the Atlantic.

Plane wing, 5 March 2017

This photo, a cellphone photo like the others of this blog post, shows a wing of the plane.

Hours later, we reached eastern Canada. Frozen lakes; snowy ground.

Frozen lakes and snow in Canada

This photo shows lakes in Canada.

We then flew over Maine in the USA. Still snowy ground, but already a bit less snowy than Canada.

As we went further south along the United States east coast, the snow got less and less. Still later, it disappeared.

We passed New York City.

Clouds off Georgia, USA

Clouds over the Atlantic east of Georgia.

Then, the sea between Florida and Cuba.

Finally, our plane arrived at Varadero airport in Cuba.

Stay tuned for more blog posts on Cuba, and its birds!

Swans and botanical garden flowers

Mute swan, 18 February 2017

On 18 February 2017, we went to the botanical garden. Before arriving there, we passed a canal with this young mute swan swimming.

Mute swans, 18 February 2017

There were two more mute swans: another youngster and an adult.

Mute swan youngster, 18 February 2017

On the canal bank, feral pigeons.

When we arrived at the botanical garden, there were of course not yet as many flowers as later in the year, it officially still being winter. Yet, already purple crocus.

Winter aconites, 18 February 2017

And quite some winter aconites were already present.

Wintersweet, 18 February 2017

And so were these wintersweet flowers.

Snowdrops, 18 February 2017

And, of course, snowdrops, as one might expect at this time of the year.

Snowdrops on 18 February 2017

A great tit calls. Blackbirds. Ring-necked parakeets.

On the other side of the canal, grazing coots and moorhens.

A blue tit drinking from the botanical garden stream.