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This splendid male Orangequit was one of many cooperative individuals at our last stop. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
My thanks to our group for choosing Field Guides for your Jamaican birding adventure! Dwayne and I very much enjoyed showing you all the fabulous birds found only on Jamaica, and I hope that our squeaky clean sweep of the endemics sent you all home happy.
On our first full day together on the island we awoke to a tremendous gale. Despite the challenging conditions, we managed to spot a dozen of the endemics on the trails of Green Castle Estate (GCE) before lunch. Favorites among the lifers were Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo and Jamaican Tody. After our blustery morning, we wised up in the afternoon and headed down to the sheltered reservoir to get out of the wind. Four West Indian Whistling-Ducks, a regional specialty, highlighted the list of waterbirds we picked up there.
That big storm dropped a huge amount of rain on the Blue Mountains. We witnessed a staggering volume of water rushing down the Buff Bay River as we wound our way up to Hardwar Gap on our second morning. Dense and persistent fog was the challenge of the day when we finally reached our destination at over 4000 feet. What a surprise to see that Osprey perched on a snag and being harassed by a Streamertail! Our most important prize before descending was an obliging Jamaican Blackbird, often a tough species to find.
Day three started predawn with perched and calling Northern Potoos. A delightful walk at Vinery yielded our only White-eyed Thrush of the trip, plus a cooperative pair of Jamaican Becards, super close Jamaican Todies, and a Jamaican Mango nest. On our way back to GCE, we stopped at Annotto Bay for some shorebirding at the mouth of the Wag Water River. We were thrilled to discover an American Golden-Plover, which is a real rarity on Jamaica and was a lifer for Dwayne. The cherry on top at the end of this great day was a successful outing for Jamaican Owl.
We then headed to the eastern end of the island for day four. The foothills of the John Crow Mountains are well known for species richness, and they lived up to reputation with some Black-billed Parrots, a pair of Chestnut-bellied Cuckoos, and Jamaican Crows before we could even get breakfast started. The Black-billed subspecies of Streamertail was a necessary tick as it seems destined to be split. The unquestionable high point of the outing came when Dwayne spotted the elusive Crested Quail-Dove walking in the road way ahead of us. We celebrated our success with the best Jamaican Jerk around for lunch in Boston Bay. Our return toward GCE was interrupted with pleasant stops in Port Antonio, at the Swift River Bridge, and at Annotto Bay again.
We spent our last morning at GCE trying to clean up Jamaican Elaenia. While that species remained elusive for the time being, we saw quite a few of the endemics again well before packing up and heading for Cockpit Country. Almost immediately out of the bus, we then scored a very cooperative pair of Jamaican Elaenias to complete the clean sweep! For the grand finale, we made our way to the far side of Montego Bay and savored the intimate experience that is Bird Sanctuary. A gleaming Streamertail on your finger is an unforgettable experience.
Predictably, Jamaican Tody was voted the favorite. Runners-up were Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo and Jamaican Owl. Thanks again for being such an agreeable and fun-loving bunch of beautiful birders. I sincerely hope our birding paths cross again someday.
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
"Doctorbird" -- Jamaica's national bird. The red-billed subspecies of Streamertail is about as gorgeous as a bird gets. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WEST INDIAN WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arborea)
AMERICAN WIGEON (Anas americana)
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors)
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Anas clypeata)
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens)
BROWN PELICAN (SOUTHERN) (Pelecanus occidentalis occidentalis)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
This leucistic Turkey Vulture had us scratching our heads until it turned around. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
RED-TAILED HAWK (JAMAICENSIS) (Buteo jamaicensis jamaicensis)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)
The absurdly long toes of a Northern Jacana are often most obvious in flight. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)
AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis dominica)
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)
NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa violacea)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)
SANDERLING (Calidris alba)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)
Caribbean Doves exhibit a beautifully iridescent nape in the right light. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus fuscus)
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala) [N]
RING-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas caribaea) [E]
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina jamaicensis)
This Northern Potoo's cryptic plumage is top notch, but the bird barely gets a passing grade when it comes to selecting a hidden perch. We weren't complaining. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
CRESTED QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon versicolor) [E]
RUDDY QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon montana)
CARIBBEAN DOVE (Leptotila jamaicensis jamaicensis)
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)
ZENAIDA DOVE (Zenaida aurita)
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)
MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor)
CHESTNUT-BELLIED CUCKOO (Coccyzus pluvialis) [E]
JAMAICAN LIZARD-CUCKOO (Coccyzus vetula) [E]
JAMAICAN OWL (Pseudoscops grammicus) [E]
NORTHERN POTOO (CARIBBEAN) (Nyctibius jamaicensis jamaicensis)
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris pallidifrons)
ANTILLEAN PALM-SWIFT (Tachornis phoenicobia phoenicobia) [N]
JAMAICAN MANGO (Anthracothorax mango) [EN]
VERVAIN HUMMINGBIRD (Mellisuga minima minima)
STREAMERTAIL (RED-BILLED) (Trochilus polytmus polytmus) [E]
STREAMERTAIL (BLACK-BILLED) (Trochilus polytmus scitulus) [E]
The windmill tower at Green Castle Estate dates back to the 1600s. Photo by participant Alan Abel.
JAMAICAN TODY (Todus todus) [E]
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
JAMAICAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes radiolatus) [E]
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AMERICAN KESTREL (HISPANIOLAN) (Falco sparverius dominicensis)
MERLIN (Falco columbarius)
The Olive-throated Parakeets in Port Antonio seemed too focused on gobbling up blossoms to be wary of us. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
BLACK-BILLED PARROT (Amazona agilis) [E]
YELLOW-BILLED PARROT (Amazona collaria) [E]
GREEN-RUMPED PARROTLET (Forpus passerinus) [I]
OLIVE-THROATED PARAKEET (JAMAICAN) (Eupsittula nana nana)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
JAMAICAN ELAENIA (Myiopagis cotta) [E]
JAMAICAN PEWEE (Contopus pallidus) [E]
SAD FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus barbirostris) [E]
We first encountered Jamaican Elaenia on day one, but it wasn't until the last day that we found this cooperative bird and completed the clean sweep of endemics. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
RUFOUS-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus validus) [E]
STOLID FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus stolidus stolidus)
LOGGERHEAD KINGBIRD (LOGGERHEAD) (Tyrannus caudifasciatus jamaicensis)
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
JAMAICAN BECARD (Pachyramphus niger) [E]
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BLUE MOUNTAIN VIREO (Vireo osburni) [E]
JAMAICAN VIREO (Vireo modestus) [E]
BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus altiloquus) [*]
Local guide Dwayne Swaby and participant Saint Seifert chose the worst seat in the truck but seemed to be having the best time. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
JAMAICAN CROW (Corvus jamaicensis) [E]
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
CAVE SWALLOW (CARIBBEAN) (Petrochelidon fulva poeciloma)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
RUFOUS-THROATED SOLITAIRE (RUFOUS-THROATED) (Myadestes genibarbis solitarius)
WHITE-EYED THRUSH (Turdus jamaicensis) [E]
WHITE-CHINNED THRUSH (Turdus aurantius) [E]
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
Don't let the close-up fool you; Vervain Hummingbird is one of the smallest birds in the world. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) [*]
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia)
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)
ARROWHEAD WARBLER (Setophaga pharetra) [E]
Clearly personal space is a priority for these Black-necked Stilts. Photo by participant Alan Abel.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)
CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia)
BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)
PALM WARBLER (WESTERN) (Setophaga palmarum palmarum)
PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens)
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
BANANAQUIT (CARIBBEAN) (Coereba flaveola flaveola)
Seeing the endemic Sad Flycatcher made us happy every time. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus olivaceus)
BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor marchii)
ORANGEQUIT (Euneornis campestris) [E]
GREATER ANTILLEAN BULLFINCH (Loxigilla violacea ruficollis)
YELLOW-SHOULDERED GRASSQUIT (Loxipasser anoxanthus) [E]
JAMAICAN SPINDALIS (Spindalis nigricephala) [E]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
JAMAICAN BLACKBIRD (Nesopsar nigerrimus) [E]
GREATER ANTILLEAN GRACKLE (Quiscalus niger crassirostris)
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)
The Blue Mountains of Jamaica are world famous for coffee production, so we had to stop at an estate for a tasting. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
JAMAICAN ORIOLE (Icterus leucopteryx leucopteryx)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
JAMAICAN EUPHONIA (Euphonia jamaica) [E]
SMALL INDIAN MONGOOSE (Herpestes auropunctatus) [I]
Totals for the tour: 113 bird taxa and 1 mammal taxa