Today we spent the day exploring near the hotel as Duviel had discovered a serious mechanical problem with the vehicle that necessitated a replacement vehicle being sent from Habana that would be arriving after lunch. Along the beach Rayner recognised the habitat as looking suitable for Brephidium exilis Pygmy Blue although it had not been recorded from the NP before.
It only took us ten minutes to find it. This is one of the smallest butterflies in the world and it flies very low over the rocks from one patch of the foodplant Sesuvium to the next. We even watched a female laying on the leaves of the succulent. So this was the second new butterfly species that we had found for the National Park in two days. There weren't many birds along the shore apart from a group of Royal Terns and a Neotropic Cormorant.
It wasn't very sunny in the morning and although a few Florida Purplewing Eunica tatila were flying NE near the beach at about 9.40am in a short sunny spell we did not see a repeat of yesterdays mass migration. The ones we saw were presumably from a previous days' immigration as one wouldn't expect an arrival at that time of the morning of what is essentially a daytime migrant. I spent some time trying to get better pictures of these from the boardwalks around the hotel with only moderate success as they were very flighty.
There were quite a few birds around the garden including, Cuban Bullfinch (all black apart from a white line on the wing), Great Lizard Cuckoo, Cuban Oriole, Cuban Vireo, Yellow-headed Warbler, West Indian Woodpecker and Cuban Green Woodpecker.
But it was for the things that I didn't manage to photograph that the day will be remembered. A Siderone galanthis Red-striped Leafwing put in several appearances near our room, and even briefly settled on a tree. Doxocopa laure Silver Emperor, Adelpha iphicleola Iphicleola Sister and Archaeoprepona demophoon Two-spotted Prepona all showed briefly. Siproeta stelenes Malachite was slightly more obliging but the real event of the day was the Anetia pantherata Great King that flew close past me along the boardwalk without stopping. There was no doubt about what it was but frustrating that the others missed it! This was the first time in about fifteen years that it has been seen on Cuba and it had been thought that the terrific destruction in this area that was caused by the hurricane in 2009 had perhaps caused its extinction. It is only known from Hispaniola and here at the very western end of Cuba. So it does still survive here but how frustrating that this was the only (all too brief) sighting of our trip. We will have to come back another time - perhaps a bit later in the year.
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Here we will post interesting news about what we and others have seen in Cuba.