17 August 2012

Cuba 2012 - Part two

So, we'd arrived.
After the usual nonsense regarding booking in to the resort, sorting luggage and a rather lengthy mooch about waiting for a new room to be allocated to us (the one we had last year and had requested was now not available) we were eventually transported to our accommodation around 7pm. Unlike last year, we were given a first floor apartment and has returning guests, who were getting married, a bottle of champers & a cool bottle of Havana Club rum! After having a quick snoop around the room, I strode on to the balcony to overlook my empire for two weeks. Sadly, we were not situated on the edge of the resort, instead we were about 200 yards away from the surrounding habitat with a layer of apartments between us and the scrub.
The view from the balcony on that first night. The closest tree on the right held a surprise...
Leaving the wife-to-be to unpack the gear, I popped open the bottle of champagne and had half an hours posh birding. My notebook claims I saw Greater Antillean Grackle, Cuban Blackbird, House Sparrow, Turkey Vulture, Yellow faced Grassquit, Cuban Emerald, Northern Mockingbird, Red-legged Thrush, Gray Kingbird and a strange blob in that tree! Thru bins I knew what it was so I wapped the scope on it and Ka-Boom! Now although I'd seen loads of Antillean Nighthawks last year, I'd not seen one like this -

This creature roosted on the same bit of branch daily for the duration of our stay. A second bird was also discovered roosting in another tree to the right of this.

Start 'um young eh! A young Nighthawk spotter!
Our first full day (26th) dawned hot and humid. Heavy rain and thick cloud wasn't exactly Caribbean but the birds definitely were. As well as the stuff seen on the first night, additions in the morning included Western Spindalis (Stripe-headed Tanager) and a stunning male Cape May Warbler (in The Nighthawk Tree).
Western Spindalis (or Cabrero if you're Cuban). 
Cape May Warbler - YES!!
Later in the afternoon, after a meeting with 'The Wedding Organiser', the three of us (Lisa, my bins & I) went for a romantic stroll along the beach to a very romantic area that I had discovered last year. It just happens that this lovely spot is also good for birds but she wasn't to know that. In little over 45 minutes 'we' notched up 3+ Oriente Warblers, 2 Blackpolls, Palm Warbler, Black 'n' White Warbler, Yanky Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-whiskered Vireo, Mourning Doves, White-winged Dove & a Cattle Egret. This was amazing, for me anyhow. I hadn't witnessed anything like this last year and it was obvious that the north coast where we were situated was experiencing a bit of a fall due to the shitty weather that we were having. This area of coastal scrub was doing it's best to impersonate Spurn and I was doing my best to impersonate a dude at Spurn (minus the Sco-Pac)!

April 27th was initially another dull, grey but hot day but the sun soon broke thru again. In the morning I visited the 'Eco-Marsh' - This is basically a fresh water nature reserve (supplemented purely by rain I believe) about 50 yards inland from the sea. It's surrounded by tall trees and scrub and has patches of reeds and dead wood and stuff. It has a long bridge that spans the lagoon and it's this bridge where you scan from. I only had about 50 minutes this particular morning but the list of sightings included Cuban Emerald, 3 Green Herons, 2 Tri-coloured Herons, 7 Black-necked Stilts, 3 Spotted Sands, single Lesser & Greater Yellowlegs, Great (white) Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, (Black crowned) Night Heron, Common Yellowthroat & Tawny-shouldered Blackbird. Twitchwell Marsh eat ya fucking heart out!
Eco-Marsh & Tri-coloured Heron
 Today was also the day our other wedding guests arrived including MIKIPEDIA!
Mikipedia arrives...
....and can't wait to get stuck in!
To be continued...

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