JARDINES del REY ARCHIPELAGO
Cayo Coco (Ciego de Avila and Camagüey Province) (S)
Lat: 22°32′07′′N 78°21′20′′W (Sol Cayo Coco Hotel), 00 ha, 6 m ()
Best Time for visit; anytime (December 2016)
Birding Site Guide
Cuba is a wonderful, cheap country with lovely people and great culture and food and the wildlife is excellent and accessible. We took the 27 km causeway from Ciego de Avila Province to Cayo Coco on this archipelago of N of Central Cuba. There is also another causeway further E from Camagüey Province. The whole of this archipelago is for tourists only, there are no permanent towns, residents or houses only hotels and documents for tourists and workers are checked as you arrive at the start of the causeway. Birding along the causeway can be good, if you have time to stop, we didn’t. There is an international airport just E of the causeway Aerpuerto Jardines del Rey.
We stayed at the wonderful all-inclusive Sol Cayo Coco Hotel, where the array of food at the self-service restaurant for every meal was truly astounding. There were still only the two state-owned types of beer though (which are good). There are about nine huge similar hotels here each able to cater for thousands of guests, but book in advance as the place is extremely popular. Here are the main ones: Iberostar Cayo Coco, Hotel Playa Coco, Memories Caribe Beach Resort, Melia Jardines Del Rey, Hotel Colonial Cayo Coco, Tryp Cayo Coco, Puliman Cayo Coco, Aparthotel Islazul Azul and Sol Cayo Coco.
There are several areas to bird here, and if you want to get all the available endemics you will need transport and probably a guide.
Causeway and area close to hotel Sol, including the small freshwater lake across the road from the hotel which proved good for West Indian Whistling Duck and a few other waterbirds.
West Indian Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna arborea Vulnerable, Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis, Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea, Cuban Black Hawk Buteogallus gundlachii Endemic Near-threatened, Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus, Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla, Herring Gull Larus argentatus, Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus, White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica, West Indian Woodpecker Melanerpes superciliaris Endemic (country/region), Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus, Orange-crowned Warbler Oreothlypis celata Rare/Accidental, American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla, Cape May Warbler Setophaga tigrina, Yellow-throated Warbler Setophaga dominica.
Cayo Paredon Grande
The third largest island in del Rey and lies 34 km to the E of the causeway on the only road. Bird the last few kilometres to the Diego Velazquez Lighthouse (1859). This is the area for Thick-billed Warbler, Cuban Gnatcatcher and the quite difficult Bahama Mockingbird. The list includes species seen along the way.
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors, American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, American Coot Fulica americana, American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus Rare/Accidental, Piping Plover Charadrius melodus Rare/Accidental Near-threatened, Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca, Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes, Cuban Tody Todus multicolor Endemic, Cuban Green Woodpecker Xiphidiopicus percussus Endemic, Thick-billed Vireo Vireo crassirostris, Cave Swallow Petrochelidon fulva, Cuban Gnatcatcher Polioptila lembeyei Endemic, Cape May Warbler Setophaga tigrina, Northern Parula Setophaga americana, Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata, Prairie Warbler Setophaga discolor, Oriente Warbler Teretistris fornsi Endemic, Cuban Bullfinch Melopyrrha nigra Endemic (country/region), Zapata Sparrow Torreornis inexpectata Endemic Endangered.
Wild Boar Caves
This is a site for Key West Quail-Dove.
Clapper Rail Rallus crepitans, Key West Quail-Dove Geotrygon chrysia Endemic (country/region), Zenaida Dove Zenaida aurita, Red-legged Thrush Turdus plumbeus, Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla, Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia, Painted Bunting Passerina ciris Near-threatened.
Trips can be booked through the people I went with, my friends Nick and Lance who run Birding Abroad: Birding Abroad.