Cuba Day 7 Camaguey and #834-836 at Sierra del Chorillo

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Day 7, Tuesday. More traveling today. We drive on to Camaguey, arriving around lunch time. Lunch is good. As usual, I buy a 10 CUC CD from the house band. Then we check into the hotel and unpack. We have some siesta time, so I explore the city on foot. I prefer birding, but it’s also nice to have free time to just wander around a strange country. Our hotel is on the edge of the “tourist” zone, such as it is. However neither Cuba nor Camaguey is so big that you can’t easily walk from there to the more normal areas of the city. Once again I really wish I spoke Spanish. There’s only so much you can learn from just watching people. In Camaguey I see the first “Internet cafe” I’ve seen all trip. They have a few old model PCs in large space. I’m tempted to check my email, but it doesn’t feel at all secure.

We leave around 3:30 for Sierra del Chorillo where we arrive an hour and a half later. There’s been some confusion. Apparently another group showed up earlier in the day and the local guide we arranged thought they were us, showed them around, and then went home. However eventually someone else is found, and we get down to some serious birding.

First bird we get almost as soon as we leave the bus is #834 Giant Kingbird. Good, I was worried I’d missed that one. It’s not immediately obvious why it’s a Giant Kingbird instead of any of several other species of flycatchers around here, but apparently the bill is bigger, which I can sort of see. There aren’t as many flycatchers to sort out in Cuba as in Central America, but they’re still a damned tricky family to differentiate.

Giant Kingbird, Tyrannus cubensis, an endangered species now found only in Cuba

Cuba Day 6 Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Sanctus Spiriti

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Day 6, Monday. This is mostly a travel day. No lifers today and few birds at all aside from caged Bullfinches and Mockingbirds. We first stop for an hour in Cienfuegos so the driver can get gas. While he does that, I explore town and encounter my first hustlers and beggars. I also find the first non-tourist shops where regular Cubans shop with pesos instead of CUCs.

Cienfuegos Shopping

Cuba Day 5 #830-#833 in the Zapata Swamp

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Day 5, Sunday. We lose an hour of sleep die to the daylight savings time change. I’m woken up sometime after 5:00 AM by someone knocking on my door. Apparently the hotel decided not to trust the wakeup call phone system after all. I dress and head to breakfast, where I’m late; but it doesn’t matter because the cafe staff didn’t arrive on time either and my group is just ordering.

After breakfast, it was about 45 minutes out into the Zapata Swamp. We weren’t early enough (and the group wasn’t ambitious enough) to try for the Zapata Rail, but after a kilometer or so we found #830 Zapata Sparrow:

Zapata Sparrow