Cuba Day 3: #819 to #821 at Cueva de los Portales

Day 3, Friday, we grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel and then drove to Cueva de los Portales, a holiday camp and park featuring caves where Che Guevara hid during the Missile Crisis.

Cueva de los Portales, the cave where Che Guevara stayed during the Cuban Missile Crisis

Also many Cave Swallows:

Here we added White-crowned Pigeon (which I haven’t seen for 10 years) to the trip list:

Also today we heard singing and then spotted a far away #819 Cuban Solitaire that we’d missed yesterday:

Cuban Solitaire

However I missed the Giant Kingbird and White-collared Swift. The kingbird would have been a life bird for me. :-( At least the swift is not an endemic, and I’ve seen it before in Panama.

On the way out we stopped at Cabanas los Pinos, mostly to get better looks at Olive-capped Warbler.

Then we visited the lower levels of the Hacienda Cortina (like a lot of the national parks in Cuba, a nationalized private plantation) and added possibly the world’s most endangered woodpecker, Fernandina’s Flicker, #820. Less than a thousand of these remain in the world. Only the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is more endangered (if it still exists at all).

Fernandina's Flicker in Palm Tree

Then back to the hotel for lunch, but first a quick stop at a chigger infested field (earlier warning of that would have been helpful: I could have worn the bug resistant socks or even brought sulfur) for the endemic Cuban Grassquit, #821 even though I only saw it very briefly amidst several Yellow-faced Grassquits.

A leisurely lunch at the hotel followed, and then it was back to Havana to the Jardín Quinta de los Molinos, a small public garden in the middle of the city (a few acres, I don’t think this was the main National Botanic Gardens) where we heard from schoolchildren about various projects they were involved in to protect birds. Originally this had been planned for the first or second day, but the Pope’s visit had thrown our schedule off. This was unfortunate since it meant a lot more driving out of our way to fit a second trip to Havana in.

We left Havana around 4:00 PM for the Zapata Peninsula after an aborted attempt to change money. We didn’t arrive at our hotel at the base of the Bay of Pigs (yes, that Bay of Pigs) until after dark. We had a plausible dinner at the hotel, and then hit the sack to be ready for an early start the next morning. I requested a wakeup call at 6:00 AM, and the desk clerk asked me if the phone in my cabin worked. It hadn’t occurred to me it might not, but apparently that’s a concern. She told me to call her from the phone, and if I didn’t call she’d assume it didn’t work and ask someone to knock on my door instead. I went back to the cabin and fortunately it worked.

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