Of ecofarms and beautiful birds

A long bus ride to the province to the north of Havana (Pinar del Rio) took us to a fertile valley surrounded by limestone outcroppings that greatly resemble the gumdrop hills of Guilin, China. Rounded hummocks of porous rock topped with a thin scrubby vegetation made a beautiful scene.

As we walked trails through pastures and scrub forest, our guide Ernesto managed to call in several of the local species using a small speaker connected to the song library on his phone. Below, a Red-legged Honeycreeper and the national bird of Cuba, the Cuban Trogon.


The Trogon was singing its purring song in a tree right at the edge of a field of tobacco, almost at eye level, perfect for photographing. Some of the tobacco had already been cut and hung (upside down) for drying.

Following our late afternoon birding hike, we drove to an ecofarm in Vinales for dinner, arriving just at sunset.

The karst formation (limestone bedrock) prohibited farming in the traditional way, so the owners created raised beds of imported soil and compost in which they could raise their 38 varieties of vegetables, many of which we sampled for dinner. Production was completely organic with inter planting of flowers containing insect deterrents in among the various vegetables, all nourished with organic compost enriched with goat manure and drip irrigation. Sufficient water came from wells drilled into the porous limestone. Weary birders agreed this was one of our finest meals in Cuba.


5 thoughts on “Of ecofarms and beautiful birds

  1. What a creative way to produce vegetables! It seems the taste justifies the means even if it must have been a lot of hard work. I like the mobile phone bird song idea. If I had a fancy phone it is an app I would like.

  2. drip irrigation … that’s the way to go …. when I think of all the lawns here, sprinkled with water which barely touches the soil , in the heat of the summer …. how wasteful we are ! and those poor Cuban farmers measuring every drop of water …
    enjoy the rest of the trip !

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