Saturday, 30 July 2016

Jamaica - April 2016

I spent a week with a small Naturetrek group, based at the  Greencastle Estate in north-east Jamaica. The island was a lot more scenic than I expected, the Blue Mountains in particular are truly impressive. The island has more endemic bird species than any other in the Caribbean, and a good number of other regional specialities.

Greeencastle Estate

The Greencastle Estate is superb, with a beautiful colonial-style house set on a hill, with views of the sea and mountains. The staff are great and help to create a really relaxed atmosphere. The 1600 acre grounds used to be run as a sugar plantation but now include a diversity of agriculture and varied habitats. Most of the land is given over to verdant forest, teeming with birds. It makes an ideal base for visiting birders.

Although we only saw around 100 species, there is a great diversity of bird families on Jamaica. The variety is superb and we enjoyed a bird-filled week. We saw all but one of the 29 endemics - my personal favourites being Red-billed Streamertail and Crested Quail Dove. We also saw a good number of American Wood Warblers, the males in colourful breeding plumage. I am now working with Greencastle to help spread the word to birders who have yet to visit Jamaica.

Red-billed Streamertail

Crested Quail Dove, taken with phone through scope!