Cuba – Day 7 – Murciélagos de Discoteca

I woke up on January 11 feeling well-rested, which may have been because of the air conditioning and the plushest bed I’d slept in since home. That was a good thing because with this many consecutive days of non-stop birding I was getting a bit tired, yet feeling a bit rejuvenated by being close to the Caribbean and surrounded by either ocean, grassy dunes, or mangroves which are environments I like to explore. What I did not know was that while potential new Cuban endemics were lacking (but near-endemics were not!), this would be the biggest birding day by total species count of the entire trip.

Our first stop at sunrise was what was relayed to us as “the disco cave”. It was, in essence, just that but the name was Jabali Cave Night Club. We started not in the cave proper, but in an area above it where there were two wildlife feeding and watering stations set up looking for Key West Quail-Dove. We saw three of them. Despite the quail-dove being a “lifer”, perhaps more exciting was a bright male Painted Bunting which most of us saw well but I was unable to photograph.

The inside of the cave was remarkable: it functions as a bar and nightclub at night, but during the day it’s a major bat roost. The common and openly-roosting bat was Waterhouse’s Leaf-nosed Bat, which hung en masse and scattered as we walked through. Less conspicuous were the Big Brown Bats, which managed to tuck themselves into crevices where they could only be viewed with a flashlight as a little bat face looking back at you. The new Cuban endemic picked up outside of the cave, and the last one we could possibly get, was Oriente Warbler. It was seen well, but I didn’t even try to photograph the quickly moving bird with the harsh backlight.

Our next stop was the Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds where we picked up 12 species, most being shorebirds and waterfowl (and one being the ever present single Palm Warbler). The most exciting thing there for me was Least Grebe. The remainder of the day was focused around several lagoons, mostly looking for West Indian Whistling-Duck and Bahama Mockingbird. The former was hard to find. The latter was not, and we got a bonus Mangrove Cuckoo in the process. That cuckoo may have been the last bird of any significance that I saw on the trip, as I spent the afternoon lounging at the hotel and sipping Cuban rum (it is as good as they say!), and the short remainder of the trip was focused on Havana.

The table below summarizes the 63 bird species observed on our seventh day in Cuba based on output from eBird. The 6 Cuban endemics observed that day are highlighted in green.

Common NameScientific NameCountLocation
West Indian Whistling-DuckDendrocygna arborea1Laguna flamingos
Blue-winged TealSpatula discors12Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Northern ShovelerSpatula clypeata10Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
American WigeonMareca americana4Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
White-cheeked PintailAnas bahamensis6Laguna flamingos
Red-breasted MerganserMergus serrator1Laguna flamingos
American FlamingoPhoenicopterus ruber3Laguna flamingos
Least GrebeTachybaptus dominicus8Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Key West Quail-DoveGeotrygon chrysia3Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Zenaida DoveZenaida aurita1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Smooth-billed AniCrotophaga ani2Auto selected 22.61098, -78.68347
Mangrove CuckooCoccyzus minor1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Cuban EmeraldRiccordia ricordii1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
SoraPorzana carolina1Laguna flamingos
Black-necked StiltHimantopus mexicanus20Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
American AvocetRecurvirostra americana10Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Black-bellied PloverPluvialis squatarola1Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Semipalmated PloverCharadrius semipalmatus13Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Piping PloverCharadrius melodus1Laguna flamingos
Red KnotCalidris canutus8Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Stilt SandpiperCalidris himantopus1Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
SanderlingCalidris alba1Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Least SandpiperCalidris minutilla1Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Short-billed DowitcherLimnodromus griseus20Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Spotted SandpiperActitis macularius1Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Lesser YellowlegsTringa flavipes3Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Bonaparte’s GullChroicocephalus philadelphia1Laguna flamingos
Caspian TernHydroprogne caspia6Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalis1Laguna flamingos
Great Blue HeronArdea herodias1Laguna flamingos
Great EgretArdea alba1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Snowy EgretEgretta thula1Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
Little Blue HeronEgretta caerulea1Pond across from Sol Cayo Coco
Tricolored HeronEgretta tricolor1Hotel Meliá, Cayo Guillermo
White IbisEudocimus albus3Laguna flamingos
Roseate SpoonbillPlatalea ajaja6Laguna flamingos
Turkey VultureCathartes aura6Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Cuban Black HawkButeogallus gundlachii1Pond across from Sol Cayo Coco
Cuban Green WoodpeckerXiphidiopicus percussus1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Crested CaracaraCaracara plancus1Auto selected 22.61098, -78.68347
American KestrelFalco sparverius1Pond across from Sol Cayo Coco
La Sagra’s FlycatcherMyiarchus sagrae2Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Loggerhead KingbirdTyrannus caudifasciatus1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Yellow-throated VireoVireo flavifrons1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Gray CatbirdDumetella carolinensis1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Bahama MockingbirdMimus gundlachii1Auto selected 22.61098, -78.68347
Northern MockingbirdMimus polyglottos1Auto selected 22.61098, -78.68347
Red-legged ThrushTurdus plumbeus1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Western SpindalisSpindalis zena1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Oriente WarblerTeretistris fornsi1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Cuban BlackbirdPtiloxena atroviolacea2Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Greater Antillean GrackleQuiscalus niger2Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
OvenbirdSeiurus aurocapilla1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
American RedstartSetophaga ruticilla1Cayo Coco Wastewater Treatment Ponds
Cape May WarblerSetophaga tigrina1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Black-throated Blue WarblerSetophaga caerulescens1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Palm WarblerSetophaga palmarum1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Yellow-rumped WarblerSetophaga coronata1Auto selected 22.61098, -78.68347
Yellow-throated WarblerSetophaga dominica1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Prairie WarblerSetophaga discolor1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Painted BuntingPasserina ciris1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Yellow-faced GrassquitTiaris olivaceus1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali
Cuban BullfinchMelopyrrha nigra1Cayo Coco–Cueva del Jabali

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