Cuba - Part 5 - La Belen

The guys got up early enough on our last day to finally get to grips with the Yellow-crowned Heron and so we set off for a final attempt at teh Sparrow and Quail Dove which was only partially successful as Rob got the latter on the deck whilst Mark and I had flight views only. And still no sign of the sparrows. So after a quick breakfast (yes, food!!!) we checked out of our relatively luxurious accommodation and headed south-east to the other side of Camaguey and the finca at La Belen.
Brown Pelican on the causeway
Flamingos on the horizon - part of a flock of 1000's
The drive was relatively uneventful until the last 30km which took us an hour and a half. Before that we'd passed through several countries and US states including Florida.
The small town of Florida
Once we arrived at La Belen, we were allowed through the gates and started birding immediately - new birds came thick and fast; exciting ones like Plain Pigeon and Cuban Crow!!!! Actually, the calls of the Cuban Crows were something else as they sound more like gobbling turkeys giving a weird atmosphere to the place.
Cuban Parrots
Soon we were seeing Cuban Rose-throated Parrots and Cuban Parakeets not to mention more warblers and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak for good measure - and all that just before it got dark. This turned out to be our biggest total day with 84 species and 145 for the trip.
La Belen
The next day we had our first guide - a requirement for birding off-piste as it were. However we were already storming through the endemics here so there were just a couple more to see. Camillo was a lovely chap; knew his birds and the English bird names but spoke no English. Actually no-one here spoke any English so it was up to me to try and converse with everyone. We didn't get quite what we we thought we'd get for dinner but it was food and edible!
Black-throated Blue Warbler - very common.
Northern Parula Warbler
The birds continued to show well in this very dry area of the country that hadn't seen any rain for 12 months. Lots of woodpeckers, kingbirds and crows plus our first Limpkins and Cowbirds (eventually!).
Cuban Green Woodpecker
Cuban Palm Crow
Cuban Pygmy Owl (& lizard sp.)
Fernandina's Flicker - one of three seen
Giant Kingbird - really common here
And yet more
West Indian Woodpecker
Typical transport for the area
We left the area after two nights here. Not all that many species but definite quality. On the 16th, we had another long drive to the Zapata area where we were to spend the final few days of our holiday. A marshy pool en-route gave us some more new birds for the trip in the form of Black-crowned Night Heron and Jacana, the latter a bird I thought we'd see more of.
Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron
The trip list now stood at 153 and four full days around Playa Larga on the Bay of Pigs promised even more!


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