Tuesday 8 August 2023


Cuban Green Woodpecker (male) - a Cuban endemic.

Some highlights from a trip to Cuba. The first time that Lu and I have been away without the kids in over twenty years. The main aim was to visit Havana, so we based ourselves about an hour away, in Villa Jibacoa. No attempt to 'clean up' the many endemic Cuban species - I just explored the hotel area, venturing no further than half a mile away whenever Lu was sleeping or reading by the pool. I've heard both good and not so good things about Cuba as a holiday destination, but I can honestly say we both thought it was wonderful.

Cuban Pygmy Owl - another endemic species.

Ashy Gecko - juvenile.

Scorpion species.

Little Blue Heron

Cuban Tody - the endemic species I most wanted to see. Several of this tiny species found but usually quite tricky to photograph. 

White-crowned Pigeon - male.


Mangrove Warbler (Setophaga petechia gundlachi) This species breeds on Cuba. Other warblers seen included Black-and-White Warbler and the endemic Yellow-headed Warbler.

first-summer female?

Yellow-faced Grassquit - singing male.

Phaon Crescent Phyciodes phaon

Black-whiskered Vireo

Orthemis sp - possibly schmidti?

Presumed Purple Bluet Enallagma cardenium - many thanks John!

Carribean Banner Lucinia sida - one of 20 species photographed on the trip. Masses of other butterfly species observed. Cuba's clearly a great country for butterflies.

Great Lizard-Cuckoo - a very strange species, running around and jumping from perch to perch, more than it flys. It's massive too.

White Peacock Anartia jatrophae

Loggerhead Kingbird

Female Cuban Emerald

Male Cuban Emerald

Western Stripe-headed Tanager - male.

Magnificent Frigatebird

Common Ground Dove

Adult Green Heron

Smooth-billed Ani

Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae

Baracoa Skipper Polites baracoa

Red-legged Honeycreeper - female.

Louisiana Waterthrush

Flambeau (male) Dryas julia

Red-legged Thrush - western race T.p.rubripes with reddish belly.

American Kestrel - the Cuban race Falco sparverius sparveroides, which exists in two colour morphs.

Cuban Peewee

Gray Kingbird - ridiculously common everywhere we went.

Cuban Blackbird - endemic.

West Indian Woodpecker

Cuban Trogon - endemic to Cuba and the national bird of Cuba. I only saw this thanks to some local expert knowledge - a lovely chap called Julio..

If you stay at Memories Hotel, Jibacoa, you'll bump into Julio walking his dog. He has brilliant knowledge of the local wildlife.


  1. Wow, some stunning wildlife there Matt! You must be having the time of your life. Recognise some birds & butterflies from Florida, but plenty I don't know. That Ashy Gecko is truly funky- never even seen an image of that.

  2. Thank you Neil. Would thoroughly recommend a trip. I only saw a small fraction of what's possible on Cuba. You've got to put in some miles to see all the endemics but it was supposed to be a relaxing holiday for Lu and I - not a birding trip and neither of us wanted to spend hours travelling. Lu discovered the Gecko in our hotel room. It's only about an inch long but fantastic-looking. 'Ashy' seems the worst possible name for what is essentially a rainbow-coloured reptile! Really good to hear from you. All the best. Matt.

  3. Hi Matt, Lovely pictures, I've had a bit of a research and think your Violet Dancer is possibly a Purple Bluet Enallagma cardenium. Cheers John

  4. Hi Matt, The Orthemis is a bit more if a challenge, although I agree it's Orthemis and based on distribution, either schmidti or the very similar macrostigma. I would go for Orthemis schmidti, the Red-tailed Skimmer. Cheers John

  5. Thank you John - really appreciate your help. I've been struggling to find useful info online so have sent some photos off to Dave Smallshire to see if he can help. The Purple Bluet certainly seems to tally with online images. It would be good to know about diagnostic features/confusion species if you have any further information. I saw masses of dragonflies and damselflies over there but it was so flippin hot that the vast majority just never rested. Could have done with some cooler, cloudier weather! Thanks again. Matt.