We began our day in the Zapata Swamp looking for the Emerald Hummingbird and the Bee Hummingbird.
This was day two of birding. Steve Stancyk explained to this non-birder, that the group was looking first for endemic birds and secondly birds not found in the U.S. that were new to the group.
The endemic birds that have been seen by the group consisted of the Striped Headed Tanager, Cuban Blackbird, Cuban Tody and the Cuban Trogan (the national bird).
What the group also saw were a lot of warblers on their winter migration from America.
Our morning stop today at the Zapata Swamp was very successful. We were not only able to spot the Emerald Hummingbird but the all-elusive Bee Hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world and endemic to Cuba.
My initiation into birding has put me in an elite group my very first trip out.
Our next stop was the Bay of Pigs. I have absolutely no intention of discussing the Bay of Pigs Fiasco, that is what Wikipedia is for. If you are interested in learning more I suggest Bay of Pigs by Peter Wyden.
We heard two stories about the naming of the bay. First that the pirates of the 1700s gave the name due to the amount of wild pigs, something they could hunt and eat. The second was that this is where the Europeans off loaded the pigs as they brought them to the island, both plausible and fun stories.
We visited the Bay of Pigs Museum. Needless to say it was as flag waving, patriotic as one can possibly imagine, then take that same sort of nationalism and drop it back to the 1960s and you get a feel for the museum
There was a propaganda movie as well; complete with English subtitles so you can be reminded of how weak the American Cubans were against the almighty Cubans that remained behind with love of country behind them.
A quick stop across from the museum
After lunch, those that chose went snorkeling in the Bay of Pigs. I dipped my toe in this historical spot and then enjoyed the afternoon watching the frolicking in the beautiful blue water.
The Bay of Pigs sits within the Zapata Swamp area of Zapata Park. This sits within the largest municipality of Cuba. Prior to the 1960s charcoal production was the only source of income for this region. Since the area has become an eco-tourist spot there has been a large increase in both economic and cultural growth.
Dinner was at a parador called Milly. Run by a husband, wife and mother-in-law it was small and delightful. Dinner was the usual chicken, a fish, and again langostino, but lovingly prepared and quite good. The highlight was the fresh vegetables and fruit and the best Mojitos.
Our hotel was the Playa Larga, coincidentally named for the second landing site of the Bay of Pigs. Moderate and yet clean and right on a beautiful beach with bungalows that reminds you of summer camp.
Transfer to Zapata Swamp
Meet a local guide to search for the bee hummingbird
Continue by coach to Playa Giron, driving along the Bay of Pigs
Lunch at Punta Perdiz at the Bay of Pigs
Visit to the Bay of Pigs Museum
Continue to hotel for check-in
Visit with Frank, a local naturalist, for discussion about the wetlands
Dinner in a local paladar across from the hotel
Overnight Playa Larga