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As a guide, the last target to fall is often the most memorable one. Once everyone has seen the bird well, it is usually followed with a big sigh of relief. Black-billed Parrot was that bird on our adventure. If I knew the best way to find one was ask a mechanic, I could have saved us a lot if time! Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Thank you all for choosing Field Guides for your birding adventure in Jamaica. It was a pleasure sharing all 27 endemic species, plus many regional specialties, with each of you. I couldn't have done it without the help of my Jamaican friends: local guide Dwayne Swaby, driver Raymond Condappa, and all the wonderful staff at Green Castle Estate.
Our first full day together in Jamaica was spent exploring the network of trails at Green Castle Estate. From the very first walk, we tallied a number of fabulous endemics such as Sad Flycatcher, Jamaican Elaenia, Jamaican Tody, Jamaican Crow, Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo, Yellow-shouldered Grassquit and Jamaican Woodpecker. A number of regional endemics, species only found in the Greater Antilles, were observed as well like: Loggerhead Kingbird, Vervain Hummingbird, and Greater Antillean Bullfinch. An afternoon walk down to the reservoir was well worth it since we scored our only Stolid Flycatcher on the way down, plus looks at the uncommon West Indian Whistling-Duck, Northern Jacana, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, and Ruddy Duck.
The next day we ventured up into the Blue Mountains birding in the Hardwar Gap area. We hit the jackpot at our very first stop with good looks at Crested Quail-Dove and Jamaican Blackbird -- two of the most challenging endemics to find. Seeing White-eyed Thrush straight away was thrilling as well. Later on we picked up Jamaican Pewee, Jamaican Spindalis, Ring-tailed Pigeon, Arrowhead Warbler and Blue Mountain Vireo to name a few. After our picnic lunch, we descended back down to the coast and added Brown Booby, Ruddy Turnstone and Semipalmated Plover.
Day four of our adventure was split between a morning in the foothills up at Vinery, some coastal birding, then another visit to the reservoir at Green Castle Estate in the afternoon. As we headed to Vinery, a quick stop at sunrise in Annotto Bay yielded our most unlikely bird of the trip: Lesser Black-backed Gull. Jamaica only has a couple previous records, including one on our tour last year. This species seems to be expanding in the Caribbean. Hearing the enchanting vocalizations of Rufous-throated Solitaire is no challenge but getting a clear view of this regional specialty can be tricky. Our easy stroll up at Vinery produced just that: a fantastic look at a gorgeous thrush. Jamaican Tody was particularly obliging up there as well. Our stop in Annotto Bay again on the way back added White Ibis, which is a species rarely seen in that part of Jamaica.
We ventured to the northeast corner of Jamaica on day five with a visit to the foothills of the John Crow Mountains. En route we scored an adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at a pit stop, which turned out to be our only one of the tour. Ecclesdown Road is a famous birding destination for good reason. We really enjoyed our walk there where we added some wintering warblers, but more importantly: the endemic Yellow-billed Parrot and Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo.
Saying goodbye to the delightful staff at Green Castle Estate the next morning meant our exciting visit to Jamaica was winding down. We traveled west across the inland and headed to Cockpit Country in search of our last endemic: Black-billed Parrot. Hearing the more uncommon of the two Jamaican parrots happened straight away but we really struggled to get some in view. Picking up a mostly silent Greater Antillean Elaenia was a bonus. We had just started to load up the bus and chalk Black-billed Parrot up as a heard only bird when one declared its close proximity with a raucous call. Vegetation kept it out of view for us until a local came to our rescue. After negotiating our way through the disassembled cars, we were guided to a nice clear view and the endemic sweep was complete! Visiting Rocklands Bird Sanctuary in the afternoon was the cherry on top. We marveled at the iridescent "Doctorbirds" alighting on our fingers, while elegant Caribbean Doves walked in and out of view and Orangequits visited feeders at arm's reach.
Thanks again for visiting Jamaica with Field Guides and 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
West Indian Whistling-Duck is a regional specialty that can be difficult to come by. The species hadn't been found at Green Castle Estate for weeks so the timing of our visit to the reservoir was very fortuitous. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WEST INDIAN WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arborea)
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens)
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster)
We finally caught up to a Tricolored Heron on our way back to Montego Bay. As it often happens with birding, once we finally saw our first one, we saw them everywhere. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
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)
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)
Willet was one of several shorebird species we picked up en route to Montego Bay at the end of the trip. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
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)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)
NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa violacea)
Don't let the image quality taint your memory. We had a fantastic look at one of Jamaica's most elusive endemics: Crested Quail-Dove. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)
SANDERLING (Calidris alba)
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)
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)
RING-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas caribaea) [E]
Our first look at the endemic Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo was fantastic but our second look was even better. The tail fanning display by the individual overhead was so cool. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina jamaicensis)
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)
Jamaican Tody always ranks among the tour favorites. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris pallidifrons)
ANTILLEAN PALM-SWIFT (Tachornis phoenicobia phoenicobia)
JAMAICAN MANGO (Anthracothorax mango) [E]
VERVAIN HUMMINGBIRD (Mellisuga minima minima)
STREAMERTAIL (RED-BILLED) (Trochilus polytmus polytmus) [E]
STREAMERTAIL (BLACK-BILLED) (Trochilus polytmus scitulus) [E]
JAMAICAN TODY (Todus todus) [E]
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
JAMAICAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes radiolatus) [E]
YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus varius)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AMERICAN KESTREL (HISPANIOLAN) (Falco sparverius dominicensis)
MERLIN (Falco columbarius)
The more colorful and numerous endemic parrot in Jamaica is Yellow-billed Parrot. 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]
GREATER ANTILLEAN ELAENIA (JAMAICAN) (Elaenia fallax fallax)
JAMAICAN PEWEE (Contopus pallidus) [E]
SAD FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus barbirostris) [E]
RUFOUS-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus validus) [E]
STOLID FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus stolidus stolidus)
GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis)
LOGGERHEAD KINGBIRD (LOGGERHEAD) (Tyrannus caudifasciatus jamaicensis)
We had an amazing tour for seeing Northern Potoo. Each night we had two or three right around the estate house perching and vocalizing just after civil twilight. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
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)
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)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) [*]
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia)
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)
ARROWHEAD WARBLER (Setophaga pharetra) [E]
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)
CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica)
BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)
PALM WARBLER (WESTERN) (Setophaga palmarum palmarum)
PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
BANANAQUIT (CARIBBEAN) (Coereba flaveola flaveola)
YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus olivaceus)
BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris bicolor marchii)
White-chinned Thrush is arguably the most conspicuous endemic species in Jamaica but the tiny white patch under its bill is one of the most challenging field marks to see. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
ORANGEQUIT (Euneornis campestris) [E]
GREATER ANTILLEAN BULLFINCH (Loxigilla violacea ruficollis)
YELLOW-SHOULDERED GRASSQUIT (Loxipasser anoxanthus) [E]
JAMAICAN SPINDALIS (Spindalis nigricephala) [E]
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) [*]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
JAMAICAN ORIOLE (Icterus leucopteryx leucopteryx)
JAMAICAN BLACKBIRD (Nesopsar nigerrimus) [E]
GREATER ANTILLEAN GRACKLE (Quiscalus niger crassirostris)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
JAMAICAN EUPHONIA (Euphonia jamaica) [E]
Loggerhead Kingbird is one of the most conspicuous regional endemics. We enjoyed this bold flycatcher on a daily basis. Photo by guide Eric Hynes.
SMALL INDIAN MONGOOSE (Herpestes auropunctatus) [I]
Totals for the tour: 114 bird taxa and 1 mammal taxa