Cuba - Part 4 - Cayo Coco birding

So this is what a Caribbean holiday is meant to be like........
Playa Flamenco - beautiful beach and no-one there :)
Not on your nelly! There were birds to be had! We planned to start early at the "Wild Boar Park" where there were some drinking pools in amongst the dense forest of the cays at which we might get a glimpse of all sorts of birds including Key-West Quail Dove and Zapata Sparrow. There was no sign of the lads at their room so I made my way to the car park quietly and had my first tick of the day with this Yellow-crowned Night Heron walking along the path in front of me in the dim pre-dawn light (iPhone picture!)
Yellow-crowned Night Heron - it is night still!
I got to the car and no-one was there so I traipsed back to the rooms and knocked on their door a little harder - they'd overslept! Without too much more of ado, we got to the first destination in time to see lots of birds - Oriente Warbler were very noisy and conspicuous along with Todys, Spindalis and all manner of American warblers.
Oriente Warbler
Western Spindalis or Stripe-headed Tanager

Cuban Bullfinch

Hooded Warbler
Prairie Warbler
There was no sign of the doves or sparrow in three hours of scanning but it was certainly a great morning's birding. We tried another location nearby where the sparrow had been seen on previous trips but still we drew a blank though a pool en route produced a few waders.
Stilt Sandpipers and a Black-necked Stilt
A visit to a nearby beach produces more frigate birds and this very obliging Black Hawk!
Cuban Black Hawk
Northern Waterthrush
Yellow Warbler
After lunch we sat out the heat of the day beofer heading west to Cayo Guillermo. The stretch of sand between the two cays was stuffed with birds and we found several species of wader for the trip list (and a couple of lifers too!). There were lots of Semi-palmated Plovers, Semi-Palmated, Western and Least Sandpipers, Willets, Short-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin, Turnstone and a lone Hudsonian Whimbrel.
An assortment of waders
And then there were the herons - Reddish, Tri-coloured, Little Blue, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, etc. Just wish this place was nearer the hotel. We had to press on as time was against us and we needed to search out a Bahama Mockingbird.
Tricoloured Heron
To say we timed things rather tightly would be an understatement but having searched though umpteen Northern Mockingbirds we re-traced our steps to an area below a lookout post and there we or rather Rob found the target bird - it gave us tantalising views, not like the Northerns sitting on top of bushes but see it we did!
Bahama Mockingbird
The only thing left was to head for a lagoon next to one of the hotels in the rapidly dimming light which was also stuffed with birds - Flamingos, Stilts, Blue-winged Teal, Sora and Clapper Rails to name but a few. 76 species for the day and the trip list growing already to a very respectable 126.

The next morning I decided to have a coffee in the bar as I was fed up of missing breakfast. The lads managed to get up on time-ish - they missed the Y-c Heron. It was off to Cayo Romano today via what was suppsed to be a rather dodgy bridge. Fortunately for us, they'd built the best bridge in the country - leading, on the face of it to nowhere, the road blocked by a metal chain. There were more gulls and herons here but we needed to head off to an area near the lighthouse where we found our target species really quickly. Cuban Gnatcatchers were in the birst bit of scrub we came to (and then were prominent all along the path) and Thick-billed Vireos were singing all over the place.
Cuban Gnatcatcher  
Thick-billed Vireo
There were yet more Frigates overhead...
 and Crested Caracaras to boot!

On our way back we enjoyed more of the cuban avifauna with Cuban Pewees again prominent and - a Lesser Black-backed Gull? No, two LBBGs!
Cuban Pewee
Lesser Black-backed Gull and Laughing Gulls
We learnt later that one of the LBBGs (with a gamy foot) had been present a number of years. After our now customary siesta/chill time we tried for the Zapata Sparrow again but again failed miserably. Anyway it was 80 species for the day and 137 for the trip.


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