Day 16 - 13 Dec 2018 - Gibara
We started by picking up our friend Carlos today and then driving over to Gibara to pick up Feli and Sandy where we stopped for a quick photo before setting off to explore some good habitat around the town of Gibara.
It's not often you see six species of Hairstreaks in a day in Cuba, indeed it was a first for us. On Bartram's Scrub-Hairstreak Strymon acis I love the way the tornus of the hindwings turns out and is coloured scarlet so that when viewed from behind it looks like a pair of angry eyes complete with eyebrows. And for the second day running we saw (three) Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak Strymon bazochii. along with five Fulvous Hairstreak Electrostrymon angelia (more than we had ever seen at once before) and Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak Strymon istapa and Limenia Scrub-Hairstreak Strymon limenia.
At one place some feeding damage on Canna plants attracted Doug's attention and he soon found a couple of larvae of Canna Skipper Calpodes ethlius. Although we have seen several larvae before we have still never seen an adult.
Lots of other good things seen today exploring the hills south of Gibara including several of the Cuban endemic birds and 53 species of butterfly which is a good day total in this area.
No real rarities amongst these apart from the endemic Cuban Longtail Chioides marmorosa but that had sadly lost its tails.
Our Ecotur guide Jose had told us yesterday that the West Indian Manatee Trichechus manatus could be found in the Bahia de Naranjo next to the Luna y Mares hotel where we were staying! When I asked if he knew any details he promised to find out from his friend who worked in the area. He came back to us today with the sad news that they hadn't been seen here for about six years - just before we started coming to Cuba. That's a real shame as I would love to see a Manatee. From my own observation and I think I'm right in saying that there is virtually no money put into any of the much-needed conservation projects in Cuba other than projects that are initiated and funded from other countries like the US. You might like to read about this Manatee project on the Isla de Juventud headed by manatee expert Dr James Powell, Executive Director at the CMA Research Institute (Clearwater, FL) and working with Cuban scientists. They have already discovered evidence from the use of satellite tags of manatees traveling from Florida to Cuba. Another individual that was tagged on 2 October 2019 at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in the US state of Georgia has since traveled south down the east coast of Florida and is currently December, 02 2019 on the southern edge of Miami. I wonder where she will end up for the winter.
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Here we will post interesting news about what we and others have seen in Cuba.