Mountains to South Coast

Wednesday, March 16th: We started our birding day by again birding along the road near Silver Hill Gap.

Silver Hill Gap

Along the road, we again saw a number of Jamaican endemics, including Jamaican Oriole and Sad Flycatcher, before running into the relatively rare Jamaican Blackbird. We also heard Rufous-throated Solitaire and Crested Quail-Dove. We worked on the quail-dove, and were finally rewarded with a good look at a Crested Quail-Dove.

We continued to bird the road, getting looks at Jamaican Euphonia and Black-faced Grassquit before finally seeing the Rufous-throated Solitaire. We also saw some neotropical migrant warblers and Arrowhead Warbler before encountering some more Jamaican Blackbirds and another Crested Quail-Dove. Now that we'd finally seen one, they became easier to see. Other birds seen in the area included Vervain Hummingbird, Jamaican Spindalis, and Greater Antillean Bullfinch.

We walked down (yes, down) a side road, Woodside Drive. We found Sad Flycatcher, Red-billed Streamertail, and Jamaican Vireo. Some other birders had located a Swainson's Warbler, which we also saw. We enjoyed some Jamaican Todies and got a good look at Rufous-tailed Flycatcher on our way back up.

Toward the Coast

We returned to Starlight Chalet, loaded the vans, and headed down toward Kingston. As we leave the mountains, we still have two endemics to find, the Blue Mountain Vireo and Sclater's (Greater Antillean) Elaenia. We have good chances of finding the vireo tomorrow in the Cockpit Country. The elaenia is more of a problem, as the usual locations are already behind us. We've played the tape, but had no response.

As we entered Kingston, we passed the University of the West Indies and the American Embassy before turning into a nearby shopping center. There was a guard at the entrance to the parking lot. We visited Wendy's for lunch, and then some of the group took the opportunity to buy some Jamaican coffee. We had tried getting coffee in the mountains, but the place we tried was out.

After lunch, we headed west and south toward the coast at Portland Ridge, where we found some new birds, beginning with Northern Jacana. Eventually we stopped and got out in a area that promised some different birds. A grassy area had Grasshopper Sparrow. They are resident here and are the nominate race, savannarum. A number of Northern Mockingbirds were present, but Bahama Mockingbird is here too. We heard one (tricky, since the Northern Mockingbirds can mimic them). We walked out into a grassless area with short tree in search of them, and were soon distracted by a Caribbean Dove. Then there was a Stolid Flycatcher, which looks quite different from La Sagra's Flycatcher, yellower, with a more robust bill (they were once lumped). A couple of Mangrove Cuckoos provided yet another distraction. Eventually we found a couple of Bahama Mockingbirds. This is the race hillii, which is a potential split.

We also added some waders before leaving Portland Ridge. Both Tricolored Heron and Glossy Ibis were new for me for the trip. Then we headed further west and back up into the foothills near Mandeville, finally arriving at our night's destination, Marshall's Pen.

Ann Sutton, who own's Marshall's Pen, was not there at the time as she was on a birding trip in Cuba. However, she was expected to return later in the day. We added Cave Swallow to our list when we arrived, and saw Northern Potoo after dinner.

Today I totalled 50 species including 1 lifer, bringing the trip total to 100 species including 28 lifers.

Marshall's Pen, Mandeville