|Cuban Trogon: the national bird, purportedly reflecting the red, blue and white colours of the country's flag.|
It was a long time in the planning, but the preparation paid off and this month’s trip to Cuba proved to be a resounding success. Eight of us went with the primary aim of seeing the country’s endemic birds, and we were not disappointed: of 25 endemic species (according to Clements taxonomy), our 11-day jaunt netted good views of 23 and logged another as heard only. The only complete absentee, as with virtually every tour to Cuba, was the mythical and apparently nocturnal, swamp-dwelling Zapata Rail – almost unknown to locals, never mind visitors. Of course, there was much more to the tour than endemics, and the provisional group list is 174 species, including many regional specialities and numerous migrants.
|There are two subspecies of Cuban Green Woodpecker in the country: this is the widespread nominate percussus.|
|Rather more elusive was Fernandina's Flicker, a beautifully marked endemic which we rarely saw well.|
|Zapata Sparrows of the subspecies varonai on Cayo Coco, off Cuba's north coast.|
|Some of the country's unique species, like Cuban Gnatcatcher, more closely resemble widespread counterparts elsewhere in the region. The crescent behind the eye distinguishes this species from Blue-grey Gnatcatcher.|
|Male Bee Hummingbird - the smallest bird species in the world, but the biggest target for many visiting birders.|