Charismatic Cuba: A Birder's Eye View

February 20, 2016  •  1 Comment

Just back from a wonderful trip to Cuba. The primary focus was birding, and we covered a lot of ground in 11 days, with stops in Havana, San Diego de los Banos, Zapata peninsula, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, La Belen in Camaguey, and Cayo Coco and nearby islands. I managed to squeeze in as many opportunities as I could for other subjects. Unfortunately, our time in Havana was very limited so I have an excellent reason to return. I applaud President Obama for beginning the process of re-establishing relations with this wonderful country that has suffered far too long from the U.S.'s myopic policies. Ending the trade embargo is long overdue. 

The grand Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Music could be heard from cafes and bars on nearly every street corner of Havana.

Music: one of the best reasons to visit Cuba!

Street scene in the late evening

Wifi remains unavailable to most Cubans. Hotspots near major tourist hotels attract people with their mobile devices like moths to a flame. In Trinidad I discovered a public park with wifi, with families sitting on benches huddled around their laptops.

Internet access remains unavailable to most Cubans. Hotspots near major tourist hotels attract people with their mobile devices like moths to a flame. In Trinidad I found a public park with wifi, with families sitting on benches huddled around their laptops.

One of the entrances to the huge cave where Che set up camp during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

One of the entrances to the cave where Che set up camp during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

 Boats in harbor, Playa Larga

With autos out of the financial reach of most Cubans, horse and cart is a common means of transportation.

With autos out of financial reach of most Cubans, horse-drawn carts and buggies are one of the most common means of transportation. ​


Roadside vegetable and fruit stand in Playa Larga

Roadside vegetable and fruit stand in Playa Larga

Local trash collector in Playa Larga

Trash collector in Playa Larga

 

With its lively colors and cobbled streets, Trinidad provided a pleasant change of scenery.

Pottery shop in Trinidad

 

One of our scheduled "people-to-people" exchanges was attending a performance by talented young dancers at Korimakao Community Project.

One of our scheduled "people-to-people" exchanges was attending a performance by talented young dancers at Korimakao Community Project.

One of the highlights was our stay at Hacienda La Belen, a working ranch as well as a good birding location. Accommodations were rustic but well worth the minor inconvenience. One of the employees at Hacienda La Belen.

And now for the main focus of the trip: the birds! Here are a few select images of my favorite species. Special thanks to Alejandro Llanes Sosa, the Cuban ornithologist who served as our national birding guide, and to the local birding guides.

 

View from the beach near Cayo Coco. My great hope is that the development which will inevitable occur as Cuba prepares to accept more tourists will be limited and will have minimal impact on the birds and other wildlife.

View from the beach near Cayo Coco. My great hope is that the development that will inevitably occur as Cuba prepares to accommodate more tourists will be limited and will have minimal impact on the birds and other wildlife. 


Comments

Jack Bilan(non-registered)
Loved them all! Great people shots and the colors are outstanding. Your new lens and your good eye really captured the birds as much as any professional photos I've seen. Thanks for sharing these on your blog. I'll forward it to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. They are enthusiastic birders (he was president of the Wn. Audubon Society at one time)
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