Drove a lot, relaxed a little
Trip Start Apr 21, 2011
17Trip End May 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
What I did
A long drive
One night at Rancho Belen is probably enough if you aim to be on the road around lunchtime and might mean that you can find somewhere to stop overnight on the long drive west. After a brief pause to photograph Smooth-billed Anis at the Rancho Belen car park and to grab a couple of snaps of working life on the ranch we were on our way.
It took an hour to cover the first 34 kms on some awful, pot-holed road and 6 hours 30 to reach Playa Larga, including a couple of stops. We had contacted Orestes Martinez, renowned as “El Chino de Zapata” to guide us in the Bay of Pigs area and were going to stay at his casa particular but only had his contact details on-line and we had not had any internet access since France, so we ended up in the pleasant enough Hotel Playa Larga.
CC and JD went for a late afternoon drive and followed the coast road for a while before taking the turn off for the village of Soplillar. Just west of the village we saw a small owl shoot across the road in front of us so we stopped and soon got some more decent views and reasonable photos of a Cuban Pygmy Owl. Further along we stopped at what looked a likely area and quickly realised that there was an Antillean Nighthawk overhead. This species has the local name Querequete, from its frequent call that might be rendered ‘kerickety’ in English. It turned out to be common in the area and was seen and heard over the hotel from perhaps 6 p.m. From time to time the patrolling overhead was interrupted by near vertical dives. The bird pulled up quickly as it neared the ground, creating a surprisingly loud booming sound with its wings as it did so.
Dinner was at the tolerable Dive Centre restaurant just up the road form the hotel, where we had seen a number of Shiny Cowbirds associating with House Sparrows and Grackles just before sunset.