Went down to Playa Larga at the Cuban south coast to do some scuba diving in january 2008. In the evening I accidentally ran into a man in the street. He approached me and started to suggest an excursion out to the nearby Zapata swamps.
Suspecting he was another of these dealers that one has to get rid of, I made him a joke, – do you guarantee that we will spot the Tocororo..? (knowing that even for Cubans it´s a rare thing to see the national bird)
-not only will you see the Tocororo he said, you will also see the Zunzuncito!
(Bee Hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world)
If I don´t deliver you don’t pay me..
Well.. I had my friend, a Cuban journalist as a witness.
Next morning at five o´clock we headed by car towards La Ciénaga de Zapata.
I was thinking in the car looking at the mans equipment: tape recorders and stuff.. this guy at least looks like a serious ornithologist! Later on I realised I had been lucky to have met the acknowledged birdwatcher El Chino Orestes Martínez.
The swamps are located close to the Bay of pigs and it´s a well-known habitat for
a variety of animals.
The hunt for the Tocororo started of badly. We saw nothing the first hour or so. “El Chino” whistled and imitated the birds constantly but nothing, nada. We were almost about to give up..
Then suddenly the shy bird appeared. It’s a beautiful creature dressed in the colors of the Cuban flag. I managed to get some acceptable photos of it.
At the end of the excursion we had observed a dozen Tocororos a couple of
Zunzuncitos and some other birds as a bonus.
“El Chino” got his well deserved compensation with an extra tip..