Our destination the previous day was Topes de Collante in the verdant Sierra de Escambray east of Cienfuegos. On the way we stopped at a viewpoint with a spectacular view over the forest. We had also been told that on the way we would pass an area where land crabs cross the road in huge numbers and sure enough they were difficult to miss - literally. They have such horny carapaces that they are known to cause punctures to the tyres of vehicles. Luckily we managed to avoid a puncture - but I fear the crabs didn't. But the ever-present Turkey Vultures got the benefit.
Although butterflies are not generally well known by many Cuban guides due to the difficulty of obtaining literature on the subject and the slowness of the internet Greta cubana is an iconic species and endemic to Cuba. It is most common in the dark forests of the east but is also found here in the mountains of Sancti Spiritus, and there is also a record from Pinar del Rio province in the west but I'm not sure how recent this is. As you can see from the fact that the above is not my photo we were unsuccessful in our quest on this occasion, so it's left for another time. But we did see some other nice things including this Many-spotted King Anetia briarea.
One of the main reasons for wanting to come to this area in the centre of the island was that I had found a reference on the internet to the fact that the Cuban Clearwing Greta cubana had been seen here. This is one of the family of clearwing butterflies found in the New World and not one of the clearwing moths. Our local naturalist guide while we were in this area was Jer Luis Vera (known as Luis) and is wonderfully knowledgeable on Cuba generally and its wildlife including the plants. It therefore wasn't long before I got round to asking whether he had seen Greta cubana. 'Yes I saw one a few days ago - we can go and have a look there'. Luis speaks near-perfect English as well as several other languages and is an excellent guide and we would thoroughly recommend his services. Please contact me via the Contact page if you would like his contact details.
We also saw this Pierid that I believe to be a female Mimosa Yellow Pyrisitia nise. Its very similar to Little Yellow Pyrisitia lisa but the extent of black on the forewing is much reduced.
We walked the trails near the hotel on the first day..
..and on the second day walked in a different direction through the forest and saw our first Mosaic Colobura dirce. and several Fiery Skippers H. phyleus by the road on the way back.
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Here we will post interesting news about what we and others have seen in Cuba.