We stayed at a resort called Muthu Playa Varadero. We didn't arrive to the resort until well after dark, but that didn't stop me from getting my first bird. As we explored the resort in the dark, we spooked a Short-eared Owl, who started barking at us. We got a very crappy look at it too when it flew off. This was definitely one bird I was not expecting to get here!
I woke up bright and early to explore the resort for birds. There were birds calling left and right but none of them were visible. Then, I looked up and four Magnificent Frigatebirds were flying over! Here's a bad photo of one of them:
Later in the morning while down at the beach, a Royal Tern went flying by. After lunch, we went for a walk at the nearby Varahicacos Ecological Reserve. Here I got Cuban Emerald, Yellow-headed Warbler, Gray Kingbird, and Cuban Vireo. My last lifer of the day was Brown Pelican, back down at the beach.
Day two was a bus trip down to the Zapata Peninsula to a beach and crocodile farm. I figured I'd get some cool birds down there, as it's one of the prime birding locations in Cuba. If only I was able to actually concentrate 100% on birding! The first lifer of the day was a Glossy Ibis flying in front of another resort. On the ride there, I saw countless Cattle Egrets in the fields, as well as a Cuban Crow.
Our second spot was a place called Cueva de los Peces. Here I got Blue-headed Quail-Dove, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Pewee, and Red-legged Thrush. Not bad for a 20 minute stop!
|Terrible photo of a Red-legged Thrush and Cuban Green Woodpecker|
The crocodile farm, Criadero de Cocodrilos, was a birding hotspot. I really wish we had more than half an hour of free time here. I got Common Gallinule, Purple Gallinule, West Indian Woodpecker, Cuban Oriole, Red-shouldered Blackbird and Tawny-shouldered Blackbird, among a bunch of other birds I'd already seen before.
|West Indian Woodpeckers|
On day three, I took a walk off the resort in search of birds. It ended up being pretty successful! The highlight was definitely seeing another Swallow-tailed Kite, and getting photo proof this time, although very distant shots. I also got Gundlach's Hawk, Cuban Black Hawk, Common Ground-Dove and Western Spindalis, plus some great up close look at some Cattle Egrets.
|Cuban Black Hawk|
|Great Blue Heron|
|Little Blue Heron|
|Cuban Black Hawk|
|West Indian Woodpecker|
|Cuban Green Woodpecker|
|Cape May Warbler|
|Greater Antillean Grackle|