Cuba - Part 6 - Quail Doves and Bee Hummingbird
After another marathon journey we reached our final stop on our birding tour of Cuba - Playa Larga on the Bay of Pigs. A thunderstorm was brewing and a few Frigatebirds had been displaced up to the head of the bay where our accommodation was.
The Casa Particular we stayed at was small but comfy. They served wonderful food and was the best value for money we had on the trip. Egrets at breakfast!
|Outside Fidel's Casa Particular in Playa Larga on the Bay of Pigs|
|The beach was close|
|Typical breakfast but the best we had by far!|
Look at all those delicious tomatoes, Mark!
And the coffee was spectacular.
We were on the world famous Zapata Peninsula where there are large tracts of unspoilt woodland and marsh - you can't get anywhere near most of it but all the special birds of the area could be found within a few miles of Playa Larga. However that few miles could and did take ages to cover as the tracks we went down were, well, I was amazed the car came back in one piece.
As at La Belen, it is mandatory to have a guide if you go off the main roads in the area. Ours was Angel - he asked us for a list of the birds we wanted to see and we set off! First target Quail Doves and Bee Hummingbird. We didn't drive far but then had a long walk down innumerable dark forest tracks, not the best places to take pictures but there were plenty of birds around. We heard Blue-headed Quail Dove (the rarest one) but were thwarted at every turn. However our mood was enlivened when we stopped at a glade with a bare tree and on top of that tree was the diminutive Bee Hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world trilling out its song.
|Bee Hummingbird - it's tiny and far away!!!!!|
|... as can be seen here, on top of the bare tree.|
|Rob, Mark and Angel waiting for the Bee Hummingbird |
to re-appear. I'm sure Mark will have some stonking images!
Having enjoyed two males and a female in the area we carried on along the path; I looked down a ride that was perpendicular to us and there was a Blue-headed Quail Dove at the end smartly moving away to cover - and another that went in the other direction. Wow! Lucky or what? We waited ages to be rewarded with a couple of Grey-headed Quail Doves (the commonest here) and then a little further round, a lone Ruddy Quail Dove that sat motionless (most peculiar for this genus it seems).
|Ruddy Quail Dove|
Yellow-headed Warblers were common here so I finally caught up that species. We headed back to the Casa as it was getting rather warm but the forest floor was moving. Millions of forest crabs migrate to the coast this time of year to lay their eggs - they started to move around midday and by the mid afternoon they were everywhere. This led to carnage on the roads. and the stench of crab in the air where the main crossings were. We'd been told to be careful as the shells are sharp and there had been lots of ripped tyres, best trick is to follow a lorry or coach as they don't care.
|This crossing was nothing to what we saw later.|
After our afternoon break we headed out again in search of owls and successfully saw Cuban Screech and another Fernandina's Flicker nest but that was about it. In terms of species count, this was our lowest day with just 51 but our trip list was now at a rather impressive 159.
|Cuban Screech Owl|