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Cuba but not as we planned it (2 Viewers)

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Thanks everyone.

Our time with Ernesto had pretty much gone perfectly except for the Zapata Wren we had seen all of our targets, so we decided not to hire a car and do the area ourselves. We did wonder if we hadn’t been able to make the trip with Ernesto work how many birds we would have missed. Although I had downloaded the calls and had rough spots for a few of the major birds I think I would have missed at least 5 or 6 assuming we could have still have stayed at one of the two Casas (details for Casa Ana are [email protected] +53 45987544) but even that wouldn’t have been certain as our rudimentary Spanish might have failed to get us accommodated.

As I said earlier in reply to Dave staying in Casa's and travelling away from a Resort Hotel would be preferable but until the world gets back to normal doing a package with help with testing etc and then just a few days in somewhere like Playa Larga or Playa Giron will get you some great birding.

Just before we were due to return to the UK, the Government announced that anyone entering the UK needed to have a negative PCR test but they didn’t set a date. When I looked in to it the SMC medical centre in the Hotel and in other major resort hotels could do a test 2 to 3 days before departure for only US $30 but we didn’t need it because the government moved back the date. However worth knowing after the lockdown if the UK stills require a negative test before arrival (even for countries with proportionately less than 1% of active cases of the UK).

Last thoughts

After nearly a year devoid of new birds it was great to add 31 new bird species in a really friendly country and to tick off country 94 (surely we can add 6 more in 2021 as the world emerges from the pandemic).

Our last bird of 2020 was Cuban Pewee and our first of 2021 a Cuban Parakeet.
 

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Sharpbill

Well-known member
The place for the Quail Dove was in a restaurant complex and diving place with some Cenotes linking to snorkelling and diving spots across the road in the sea. I don’t know what the name of this place is but it is about 10 minutes east of Playa Larga on the Bay of Pigs.
I visited here in 2019. It's called Cueva de los Peces. Interesting to see your Blue-headed Quail Dove has a touch of black in the crown. We were told that this was due to the un-natural diet of kitchen scraps. A blacker example attached (same site) together with a comparison photo taken in the forest at Soplillar.

John
 

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Dave Williams

Well-known member
Brought back some happy memories, thanks David.
Casa Ana sounds interesting if they have the Bee Hummers in the garden but I have to say El Varadero where we stayed was so good I would have to choose that one if I returned. I went up to the village of Palpite, about 6 kms away where there is another hot location for them.
If anyone is interested we did a self drive of much of the island in 2016 and stayed in Casas almost everywhere.Highly recommended but the best birding was, for me anyway, around the Playa Larga area but there again, that's where we had a guide so it helps to find certain sites and tracks.
You can follow the link below or if you just want to look at some pictures I have an album on Flickr too.

Wife Claire and I were only discussing earlier our plans for this year in to next which currently look far from fixed but she did suggest that a package might be a better option than DIY because then the travel company will arrange Covid testing etc if necessary before you return I expect.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
I visited here in 2019. It's called Cueva de los Peces. Interesting to see your Blue-headed Quail Dove has a touch of black in the crown. We were told that this was due to the un-natural diet of kitchen scraps. A blacker example attached (same site) together with a comparison photo taken in the forest at Soplillar.

John
Thanks

Some birds were bluer on the head, see near bird but interesting how a bit of rice would cause that change.
We did not see birds at Soplillar only Grey-fronted for us here.
 

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lgonz1008

Well-known member
Thanks

Some birds were bluer on the head, see near bird but interesting how a bit of rice would cause that change.
We did not see birds at Soplillar only Grey-fronted for us here.
I'm surprised by that change too, if it really is linked to eating cooked? rice, it's not like any of the common species that go to feeders elsewhere never consume food normally not available in the region, so I wonder what causes the color change in the Quail-Doves?
 

Dave Williams

Well-known member
One of the rather interesting observations from our Cuba trip was that you'd often find stretches of the roads had rice spread out to dry in the sun. As a consequence the rice contains pieces of gravel and the owner of our Casa spent hours going through her packet of rice grain by grain to eliminate the risk of us eating any. The birds no doubt would benefit from a bit of grit though!
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
I'm surprised by that change too, if it really is linked to eating cooked? rice, it's not like any of the common species that go to feeders elsewhere never consume food normally not available in the region, so I wonder what causes the color change in the Quail-Doves?
Would it be that the iridescence is related to birds being in prime condition if it is a sexually desirable trait (ike glossy plumage or long tails in other birds) - only birds in peak condition can exhibit it, thus birds eating a substandard diet can't quite reach the perfection level and the iridescence (or blue colour) is lacking as they aren't quite as 'fit'???
 

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