On Wednesday the weather had turned hot and sunny and we headed to the raison d'être for this vacation, Kougibougouac National Park and the beach!
This is Kelly's Beach, one of several in the park. This beach itself is located on a wide dune, and you access the beach by traversing 1.2km of boardwalk similar to that at the Eco-Centre (previous post). In addition to the dunes' inherent fragility, its far ends to the north and south are nesting grounds part of the year for the piping plover. The plovers' eggs and chicks are at great risk from a wide variety of predators (foxes, crows, dogs, cats), along with human accidental destruction, so during nesting time the nesting areas are strictly off-limits, both the dune and the beach.
They're serious about this - a security guard polices the boundary all day, sitting in a small sunshade at the beginning of the nesting area.
Sometimes the nests are encircled with wire fencing so that the birds can get in and out, but predators can't get to the eggs or chicks. The park rangers also rely on night-vision video cameras to keep an eye on the nests.
I spoke to one park ranger who told me that it had been a very good year so far - they'd recorded eight live chicks. (I read in the park literature that only 1 in 4 survive to flight age.)
Good luck, little guys!
Given the weather (the temperatures went from 23° to 29° over the next 3 days and it was cloudless and sunny), the number of tourists crawling over every part of the region, and the fact that the local kids are out of school, the beach - the nicest in the immediate area - was astonishingly roomy the three days we spent significant hours baking on it. lots of families, though - lots and lots of kids. Made for some interesting watching, but a much louder beach experience than we're used to in Cuba!
For the next few days we continued to explore the region (I will be posting a map in the near future) but made sure to clock lots of beach time at "Kougch".