Category Archives: Friends of Miles

A Cuban Bird Walk Report

A Cuban Bird Walk Report

By Helen Kennedy (Toronto, ON) and Ruth Caspell (Nanaimo, BC) with additional photos from Paul Pugh (Thunder Bay)

On a recent visit (January 2020) to Cuba, we had the opportunity to take a bird walk with the local English and Science teacher Reinaldo Morales Rodriguez, nicknamed Pilo. What follows is a Miles-Hearn-inspired report. Helen is a somewhat regular in Miles’ treasured bird walks. For the following report, Helen took pictures (and stole some from another walker, Paul Pugh.) Ruth kept the lists. Both Helen and Ruth then matched written word with image and put together this report.

Our walk took place in San Diego de los Banos, in Pinar del Rio province. The village is known for its sulphur springs, whose medicinal waters were supposedly discovered in the early colonial period when a sick slave stumbled on the spring, took a bath and was cured. A permanent spa was established in 1891. Across the street from our hotel were the original grounds of the Hacienda Cortina, a restored mansion built over a century ago, in the middle of nowhere, by lawyer, José Manuel Cortina. He imported a Mexican Silk Cottonwood tree from Indian that towers over the village at the original entrance to his grounds. Our walk took place through the overgrown remains of this property.

January 25, 2020

San Diego de Los Banos

28 degrees and sunny

Species list: killdeer, smooth-billed ani, great lizard cuckoo, Tennessee warbler, la sagra flycatcher, northern mockingbird, great loggerhead kingbird, grey kingbird, Cuban tody, tawny-shouldered blackbird, house sparrow, yellow-faced grassquit, Cuban emerald hummingbird, Cuban black-hooded oriole (endemic), northern parula, common ground dove, western palm warbler, West Indian woodpecker, tocaroro, (aka Cuban trogan), Cuban peewee flycatcher, Cape May warbler, Cuban bullfinch, red-legged thrush, broad-winged hawk, Cuban pygmy owl, American red start, Louisiana water thrush, aura tinosa (aka turkey vulture) (29 species)

A Cuban Bird Walk Report

By Helen Kennedy (Toronto, ON) and Ruth Caspell (Nanaimo, BC) with additional photos from Paul Pugh (Thunder Bay)

On a recent visit (January 2020) to Cuba, we had the opportunity to take a bird walk with the local English and Science teacher Reinaldo Morales Rodriguez, nicknamed Pilo. What follows is a Miles-Hearn-inspired report. Helen is a somewhat regular in Miles’ treasured bird walks. For the following report, Helen took pictures (and stole some from another walker, Paul Pugh.) Ruth kept the lists. Both Helen and Ruth then matched written word with image and put together this report.

Our walk took place in San Diego de los Banos, in Pinar del Rio province. The village is known for its sulphur springs, whose medicinal waters were supposedly discovered in the early colonial period when a sick slave stumbled on the spring, took a bath and was cured. A permanent spa was established in 1891. Across the street from our hotel were the original grounds of the Hacienda Cortina, a restored mansion built over a century ago, in the middle of nowhere, by lawyer, José Manuel Cortina. He imported a Mexican Silk Cottonwood tree from Indian that towers over the village at the original entrance to his grounds. Our walk took place through the overgrown remains of this property.

January 25, 2020

San Diego de Los Banos

28 degrees and sunny

Species list: killdeer, smooth-billed ani, great lizard cuckoo, Tennessee warbler, la sagra flycatcher, northern mockingbird, great loggerhead kingbird, grey kingbird, Cuban tody, tawny-shouldered blackbird, house sparrow, yellow-faced grassquit, Cuban emerald hummingbird, Cuban black-hooded oriole (endemic), northern parula, common ground dove, western palm warbler, West Indian woodpecker, tocaroro, (aka Cuban trogan), Cuban peewee flycatcher, Cape May warbler, Cuban bullfinch, red-legged thrush, broad-winged hawk, Cuban pygmy owl, American red start, Louisiana water thrush, aura tinosa (aka turkey vulture) (29 species)

Bird Highlight:

Cuban emerald humingbird

Botany Highlight:

Poinsetta

Birds:

Cuban bullfinch
Great loggerhead kingbird
Northern mockingbird
American redstart
Cuban peewee
West Indian woodpecker
Cuban blackbird
Aura tinosa (aka turkey vulture)
A chicken and a turkey
And a bird we couldn’t name – anyone know what bird this is?

Botany:

Cuban prickly ash (zanthoxlum cubenese
Breadfruit – its flower can serve as a mosquito repellent.
Royal palm tree – Cuba’s national tree. It is illegal to cut them down, but after devastating hurricanes, you can obtain special permits in order to use them to rebuild your house.
Banana fruit and flower

Some mammals:

Nanny goat and kid
A tethered pig
Horse at base of mountain

Our guide Pilo

Pilo was a great guide. He heard many more birds than he could see, much like Miles. He did try to flush out a tocarora (Cuban trogon) but alas the bird was too shy to make himself available for our awaiting cameras)