Antillean Nighthawk

While in Cuba ( April 21st-28th) we were based at Playa Giron, rapidly dubbed the Gulag. The complex was the worst place we have ever stopped and with hindsight we should have used the services of the many Casa Particulars in the area. I don’t normally complain about hotels, especially when you go for the cheap option and bearing in mind Cuba’s difficulties but even a minimum of effort would have improved things there and that effort is clearly missing. If you are tempted to visit the Zapata area of Cuba and don’t want to shell out the $3,000CAN or more that tour companies ask then Selloffvacations trips at around $750CAN will get you flights, airport transfers and first and last night beds but I strongly recommend that you don’t plan to spend a full week at Gulag Playa Giron. We didn’t, we went west for one night, we should have made it three!

The birds were a different story and we saw just about everything we wanted to, bearing in mind that we had been in Cuba in 2010 but located out on the cays. One bird that we saw daily was the Antillean Nighthawk. Every afternoon a pair would perform their aerial ballet accompanied by the kit-ik-kit-it calls, the perfomance would last for a couple of hours or more, they were always the first and last birds of the day, unless you count Chickens. I spent a bit of time waving a camera at the nighthawks but they were very quick when displaying, wheeling around and stooping at speed. Eventually they landed for a rest one day, the male in particular looked like he needed a breather. In the montage he is always the one behind, on the ground he’s the one napping.

I’ll post a trip report when done, just check the tab in the headed under trip reports. More photos and commentary to follow, Cuba offers great birding in a safe environment and with a good birding set up and, accommodation issues aside, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a visit.

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