Cuba - Part 2 - La Guira

I awoke on Saturday morning not feeling terribly well. We'd got directions to the best place for the Cuban Solitaire from local guide, Cesar, so we decided we'd have a go at driving in the dark. A good job it was because 100 yards down the road I had to yell to Mark to stop so I could debunk and empty the contents of my stomach. Soon we were back on the road again and following one more emergency stop, we arrived at Cuevas de Portales which was where Che Guevara and his merry men had their hide out. Anyway, it's a campsite for Cubans now - we were told to get there early as they play music at full volume from 9am.
Cuban Tody
We were taken to the entrance by the guard who seemed completely unphased about visitors at 7am - we could hear the Solitaires singing (must try to work out how to get voice memos off my iPhone and on to blogger). Soon we were in the 'garden' on the other side of the cave, a wonderful oasis filled with birdsong of all sorts. Cuban Tody's were all around, their fluorescent plumage glowing in the dim corners of the forest. White-crowned and Scaly-naped Pigeons sat out on show (this was the only place we actually registered the latter) and we got a fantastic performance by a solitaire - unfortunately far too dark for any pictures. Both Mark and Rob got glimpses of Yellow-headed Warbler but I had to wait until later in the trip for mine. More birds were showing in the scrub around the campsite but the music was on (and loud) so we headed for a site further up the hill where more birds could be seen.
La Sagra's Flycatcher
It was getting hot but I wasn't feeling too bad so once we'd parked the car under the pines we made our way up to a traditional site for the Solitaires.
Rob and Mark in the pines of La Guira
La Guira National Park
Another speciality, Olive-capped Warbler, was common here with its Willow Warbler-like song and soon we were seeing more birds including Solitaires and Cuban Trogons.
Cuban Solitaire
Cuban Trogon
We headed back to the hotel at midday where I spent the rest of the day getting myself ready for the long drive the following day whilst the lads went searching for other goodies - Snail Kites and a few other bits and pieces. The day had produced a total of 71 species and luckily I was fit enough to see the special birds of the area!

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