Wednesday, 16 January 2019

JAMAICA – Saturday to Monday

Saturday 5th January
Manchester to Jamaica

Dudley and Mary travelled up from St Albans and stayed the night as we had an early start his morning. We arrived in Manchester a little after 8.00am parking the car and catching the shuttle bus to the Airport where we met up Keith and Lyn the remainder of the UK contingent in the terminal. The flight was fine and I watched on of the worst films I have ever seen “The Meg” avoid at all costs.

We landed in Montego Bay nine hours later where the two Americans Ann and Darleen had been patiently waiting for us. I first met Ann in Brazil in 2005 and being a long-standing friend of Dudley and Mary I had met her in the UK a few times. Darleen (a friend of Ann’s)  a lady in her 80’s was as fit as a butchers dog, during the course of the week she left most of us standing and was amazingly resilient. I felt so sad when see told us about coming home from a weekend away to find her house had been burned to the ground during the Californian fires a couple of years back.

At the airport we saw a couple of Magnificent Frigatebirds and Zenaida Doves. Our driver Raymond got us loaded up and started on the three hour drive to Green Castle Estate which lay 100 miles to the west along the north coast of Jamaica. After what seemed forever we turned off the main road and followed a rough track for about three miles with a brief stop for a Barn Owl before we arrived at the Estate House which was our base for the next week.

The staff were waiting for us and showed us to our rooms, which were well equipped and very pleasant. We then returned to the dining room for a light meal to be joined by a Northern Potoo that flew in to take advantage of the insects attracted to the lights around the complex.

Sunday 6th January
Green Castle Estate

We were met by the resident guide Dwain, after a pre-breakfast at 7.00am he took us for a walk around the gardens. The birds came thick and fast with Jamaican Spindalis, Red-tailed Streamertail, Vervain Hummingbird, Jamaican Woodpecker, Jamaican Mango, Jamaican Vireo, Sad Flycatcher, White-crowned Pigeon, Jamaican Euphonia, Jamaican Oriole and Loggerhead Kingbird, most of which were endemics.

After breakfast we explored the Waterfall Trail one of many trails on the estate. We saw further endemics plus a Mangrove Cuckoo, Greater Antillean Bullfinch, Orangequit, Yellow-shouldered Grassquit plus a good scattering of American Warblers were Parula Warbler and American Redstart were surprisingly rather common.

Jamaican Spindalis
Loggerhead Kingbird
Sad Flycatcher
The view from our room

Monday 7th January
Eccesdown Road, John Crow Mountains

We had an early rise this morning rising at 4.00am were the staff had provided tea and coffee and some fruit (pre-breakfast) before our drive to the extreme west of Jamaica to the John Crow Mountains, we stopped on the way to pick up our guide Roger who was our guide for trips away from Green Castle.

We arrived at Eccesdown Road a little after sunrise where we partook in our second breakfast of the day with some rather tasty porridge! Again the birds came thick and fast with both Black-billed Amazon and Yellow-billed Amazon seen before we had walked far. The rest of the morning was spend searching for endemics and dodging the frequent rain showers. One of the hardest endemics to find is Crested Quail Dove and most of us managed to get views of a perched bird.

The other restricted range endemic was Black-billed Streamertail which we saw really well, very similar to Red-billed Streamertail apart from the obvious. The most impressive bird was a Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo one of two endemic Cuckoos that Jamaica has to offer.

Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo
Sad Flycatcher

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