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A Cuban Beauty

September 13, 2019

A Cuban Beauty

- as seen by -

Sylvia Alexander Sylvia Alexander

As you’d expect, Cuba has many endemic species (almost half its flora, and most of the reptiles and amphibians); and the birds are glorious. These include the world’s smallest, the bee hummingbird (or “zunzuncito”), the Cuban trogon, with its spiffy tailored tail, and the Cuban tody (captured here by the gifted Cuban photographer and architect, Aslam Ibrahim Castellón Maure.)

I represented the Wildlife Conservation Society on a field trip to monitor and count birds, plants, and herpetofauna in the Banao Ecological Reserve five hours’ drive from Havana, as part of an Earthwatch/WCS partnership.

Hailing from the US, Finland, and Spain, the Earthwatch volunteers enjoyed two comfortable field camps; plentiful food (including freshly picked mangos, a rare treat for a New Yorker); and the hospitality and guidance of the scientists led by Maikel Cañizares Morera partnering with Natalia Rossi. We walked daily transects in steep rocky terrain surrounded by tree ferns and bromeliads; and also planted plots of two species of critically endangered trees.

During our field transects, we came to delight in the tody’s chattery call, knowing that it would soon lead us to the colorful caller himself.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Canon Lens EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and Extender 2x III


, Cuba Map It

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