Jamaica 2021 with Maine Audubon
March 20-26, 2021
with Cory Gregory & Doug Hitchcox
Jamaica is one of the hotbeds of avian endemism in the West Indies with at least 27 species found nowhere else. Add to that a host of regional specialties and numerous wintering wood warblers and you’ve got an irresistible birding destination close to the United States. It doesn’t hurt that it’s all based from a single hotel on a lush tropical island with fabulous food, vibrant culture, and world-renowned music. In just a week, we stand a good chance at encountering all of Jamaica’s endemics, from the fabulous Streamertails to the taxonomically curious Orangequit.
Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean at 146 miles long and 51 miles at its widest point. But don’t worry; we won’t be racing around the whole island. Instead, we’ll spend our time at the safe northeastern end of the island, birding at a leisurely pace. Our goal is not to see every species in Jamaica but to see every species that you can only find in Jamaica (this includes the 19 endemic subspecies). We won’t be pressing to reach every corner of the island or chancing any risky sites to find a species easily seen somewhere else.
Green Castle Estate provides casual elegance at its picturesque home overlooking nearly 1600 acres on the northeast coast of Jamaica. This safe and isolated property is managed for a cross-section of habitats, which host more than half of Jamaica’s endemics. Jamaican Spindalis, the red-billed subspecies of Streamertail, Jamaican Woodpecker, and Jamaican Tody can all be seen while holding a cup of local coffee or organic juice freshly squeezed from the estate’s orchards. The trails on site should yield other endemics like the Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo, Jamaican Becard, Sad Flycatcher, Yellow-shouldered Grassquit, and White-chinned Thrush. The Caribbean breeze, a dip in the pool, a good book, and a rum punch or fresh-squeezed juice might be really tempting. The beauty of staying at the same hotel is you are welcome to succumb to temptation and pass on any outing you wish (except for the ride back to the airport).
In order to round out our list of endemics, we will take field trips to the John Crow Mountains, Blue Mountains, and Cockpit Country. Our higher elevation targets will include Ring-tailed Pigeon, Crested Quail-Dove, Yellow-billed and Black-billed parrots, Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo, Blue Mountain Vireo, and the odd Jamaican Blackbird. We will make stops along the coast to look for terns, frigatebirds, shorebirds, and herons.
Read more in our itinerary linked below…