Jamaica: Birding and Natural History in the Caribbean
Future dates TBA
The island of Jamaica may be small, but, due to a unique combination of geologic history, location, size, and topography, its biodiversity, as well as its level of endemism, is unusually high. While its birds include 28 endemic species and 17 endemic subspecies, it also harbors about 3000 species of plants, about 800 of which are endemic, 70 species of reptiles and amphibians, including more than 50 endemics, and over 500 endemic land snails.
trip begins in Montego Bay from where we make a short trip south to the
Rocklands Bird Sanctuary. This
special spot introduces us to some of Jamaica’s most colorful birds, including
red-billed streamertail, Jamaican mango, Jamaican oriole, orangequit, and
Caribbean and Zenaida doves. From
Rocklands we head south, stopping at the Black River marshes to look for the
local specialty, West Indian whistling-duck, as well as masked duck, the
resident race of yellow warbler, loggerhead kingbird, glossy ibis, waders, and
continue to Marshall’s Pen, a 300-acre property that is home to local
naturalist Ann Sutton as well as most of Jamaica‘s endemics.
We spend two nights here enjoying the grounds, learning a bit about
Jamaican culture and history, and seeing some great birds.
Jamaican owls, though not necessarily easy to see, are found on the
grounds, as are an endemic race of northern potoo and a suite of endemics including the diminutive Jamaican tody,
Jamaican woodpecker, white-eyed and white-chinned thrushes, Jamaican becard,
Jamaican vireo, red-billed streamertail, Jamaican spindalis, Jamaican euphonia,
Jamaican lizard cuckoo, and chestnut-bellied cuckoo.
Marshall’s Pen, we head east to the Blue Mountains.
We begin with a side trip to the south coast and the acacia and cactus
scrub of Portland Ridge where we’ll look for a couple of habitat specialists,
stolid flycatcher and Bahama mockingbird.
We then descend to the north coast and Goblin Hill Villas where we’ll spend two nights. With views of the aqua-blue Caribbean, we’ll enjoy beautiful grounds where two endemic hummingbirds, black-billed streamertail and Jamaican mango, are fairly common at the feeders. From Goblin Hill we make a short trip east to Ecclesdown Road, a quiet spot that passes through a large tract of intact forest where we’ll look for a few remaining endemics - Jamaican crow and yellow-billed and black-billed parrots – as well as the more widespread species. We’ll also make at least one outing to some nearby coastal cliffs where there is a small breeding colony of white-tailed tropicbirds.
In addition to the birds, we'll explore Jamaica's natural history and see and learn about some of the plants, insects, reptiles, and amphibians of the island.
Detailed itinerary and references available upon request.
Jamaican Tody and Orangequit by Misty Vaughn