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Rich Hoyer on his recent abbreviated Jamaica tour

April 13: Rich Hoyer on his recent abbreviated Jamaica tour

We ended our Jamaica tour a day early this year, with worries that the reduced number of flights back to the US might make returning home more difficult. It turned out we would have had most of our regular flights home anyway, but this year’s itinerary was a day longer than recent years, and we didn’t miss much more than a chance at some fun open country, marsh, and mudflat birding. Once again, all of the island’s amazing endemics made it to the official tour list, though Crested Quail-Dove was much less cooperative than in the past – we all heard the skulkers, but only one or two participants saw it well. But we had repeated views of everything else, saw all of the rarer endemic subspecies, and delighted in absorbing ourselves in the amazing world of island endemism amongst the lizards, butterflies, snails, and plants.

This year Greater Antillean Bullfinches were particularly common and easy to see on the Ecclesdown Road at the far eastern end of the island.


In the Blue and Port Royal mountains, this Jamaican Spindalis appeared out of nowhere just a few feet from the group and fed on flower buds.


A fascinating break from the birding was provided by this lynx spider which was munching on an endemic Jamaican Calisto butterfly.


An afternoon trip to the southern end of the island was very productive, adding a rare Prothonotary Warbler and some cooperative Clapper Rails to the list in addition to a pair of this very confiding Bahama Mockingbird.


One of the highlights of the tour was getting to visit the biologically and geologically fascinating Cockpit Country.


Here we finally had views of both endemic parrots perched, here the more common (this year) Black-billed Parrot.


We even had a few endemic butterflies here, including this rarely seen Jamaican Crescent, Antillea proclea.


Everyone’s favorite place, as usual, was Ann Sutton’s home, the estate and great house of Marshall’s Pen. For the third time ever, we had Greater Antillean Elaenia on the grounds, but this time with the best views ever.


The resident pair of Jamaican Owls successfully fledged a chick earlier in the year, and we heard it nightly begging for food. On just one day were we able to find its day roost, typically right up against its mother.


Jamaican Tody never stops eliciting oohs, ahhs, and awws, and we had our best views while at Marshall’s Pen.


Posted: April 13, 2020