It's always a pleasure to go out with our friend Karlos and today straight after breakfast we started by exploring a few fields a few miles to the south of the hotel. There was a Caracara and a singing Eastern Meadowlark as well as a few dragonflies, and the moth Utetheisa ornatrix which you can find pictures of on the moth pages here. We found a clump of Calotropis which is one of the foodplants of the Queen Danaus gilippus and found a couple of eggs and a tiny first instar larva. When chewed or damaged the leaves secrete a gluey white sap which the larva was careful to avoid.
We the went on to an area near the the Taino Indian village. It was a sunnier day today and we started seeing more butterflies straight away. As we walked along the track a probable Gold-spotted Aguna Aguna asander flew past me but unfortunately it kept going and didn't reappear. It's always a good day when we see one of the two Proteides skippers and today it was the turn of May's Skipper Proteides maysi which stayed for a few seconds nectaring on the flowers by the path. Further on there was another real rarity, three Antillean Checkered Skipper Burnsius crisia, a species which we have only seen at a couple of other places. We also saw Purple-washed Skipper Panoquina lucas and Cuban Broken-dash Wallengrenia misera.
Further on Karlos showed us two of the endemic Bare-legged Owl in their nesting tree.
Cuban people in general don't like snakes and will readily kill them if they come across them which is a tragedy considering that many of them are endemic to the island and can cause little or no harm to people. Here we saw three snakes that had been killed by the locals - one was a Tropidophis melanurus Giant Trope, another was too far gone to identify and the final one was I think a Tropidophis wrighti Gracile Banded Trope. What a tragic end to what was such a rare and beautiful creature. On a slightly more cheerful note was the finding of a tiny Caraiba andreae Cuban Lesser Racer just a few inches long and less than the thickness of a pencil.
In the afternoon we went to look at what butterflies there were in the hotel grounds. How cool to have Miami Blue Cyclargus thomasi in the garden along with Fiery Skipper Hylephila phyleus, Chestnut Leafwing Cymatogramma echemus, Mangrove Skipper Phocides pigmalion, Hammock Skipper Polygonus leo.
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Here we will post interesting news about what we and others have seen in Cuba.