Friday, 12 October 2012

American Migrants in Cuba

When reviewing the internet to predict what I might see in Cuba I didn't really consider the diveristy and number of American winter migrants that would be in Cuba already, in August.

I was most successful with the warblers in a small patch of  mangroves near our hotel in Varadero, it seemed alive with them despite it not being the paek time. Varadero is famed for being a birdless world but this small area keep giving and giving. I picked up some really exciting birds here like Crested Caracara, American Redstart and Broad-winged Hawk.

Below is a selection of photographs from the mornings I spent wandering over there, excuse the quality on some of them;

Louisiana Waterthrush feeding on insects in a puddle;
 Northern Waterhtrush, very common in the mangroves;
 American Redstart. This is a male, stunning birds!
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher;
 Least Sandpiper, every morning a group were feeding in a puddle by the hotel;
Prairie Warbler, probably the most common American migrant warbler I saw;
 Solitary Sandpiper;
Yellow Warbler, a resident around the coast in cuba but numbers swell when the American birds join them in winter;

I'll cover the endemics next so check back soon!


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Cuba's Lizards

I encountered several species of lizard whilst in Cuba. I have to admit, though, that I don't know any IDs. Some are certainly Anoles with their flamboyant throat displays!

Here is a selection of photographs taken mainly around our hotel pool in Varadero (don't forget to click on them to see then large...);

The next two photos were taken during a typical Caribbean sunset as this chap peaked round a tree and the sun light shone only on his head...

Still a few more post to come from Cuba - I'm draggin them out!


Sunday, 23 September 2012


In August I spent 15 days on the wonderful island of Cuba!

This wasn't a wildlife trip but I made the most of things by getting up early most mornings whilst in Varadero and wandering around the mangroves near out hotel. I also spent two days in Zapata. In total I saw around 100 species of bird with 90 of them being new. Most of the new birds were exciting but one bird in particular stole the show, the Cuban Tody!

This beautiful endemic is supposedly common across Cuba but I struggled to locate one outside of Zapata. Other carrbean islands boast a Tody of their own, including the Jamaican Tody and Puerto Rican Tody! The majority of which are also endemic to their islands of residence!

I only saw 2 birds and both were in Zapata, the male I photographed was a superstar! The top photo is probably my favourite form the trip because they bounce about so fast in gloomy conditions and waving a 500mm lense around is tiring work! I shot at 800 ISO with the aperature wide open and still only got a shutter of 1/80 so was amazed this top one came out sharp, especially as I was shaking with excitement, sweating from the heat/humidity and being eaten alive by mosquitos!


Apologies for Tody-overload! I'll try and be a little more selective with the rest of my Cuban posts...

Sunday, 12 August 2012


Over the last few nights myself and Ben have been filling the August photography lull with a harvest mouse named Harvey! I should point out that it's captive bread so nothing was taken from the wild! (apart from the corn...)

First night was overcast so we got some standard shots of him;

The second night we arrived rather late at the field so played around with underexposing some sunset stuff;
And on the thrid night we went for an autumn berry theme...

Certainly more to be done with this friendly chap!! After my trip to Cuba though...

Thursday, 26 July 2012


I've been to the Farnes twice this year now and what a great place it is!
I first went in June when breeding was well underway and there was loads of activity on Inner Farne! The second time was mid July and the island had changed a lot by then, juv arctic terns on the wing and with the puffins mainly on the sea around the island. Here is a selection of photos from both trips, don't forget to click on them for a bigger view!

I've heard about the arctic tern aerial attack and was still surprised when I received a direct hit to the head walking up past the first building!!
 Quite liked this one, apologies to the chap who's permission I didn't seak to use this photo...
 The display is brilliant and they were still feeling flirty in July! 

 Some more wide stuff...
They were always busy bringing food back for their young;

Some of the supporting cast around the island and around Seahouses;



Rock Pipit;

And who can forget the Tommy Noddies...

Great subjects on the islands, just one problem! Opening hours! You unfortunately can't get there at first light or stay until sunset. Hopefully that is where Shetland next year can help...