Marshall's Pen to Montego Bay

Friday, March 18th: Ann Sutton suggested that our problem with Sclater's Elaenia may be that we are just a little early. It might not be in its breeding grounds yet. She told us that they may be altitudinal migrants, but it is not really know where they are in winter. There is at least one record from Marshall's Pen. Rich and Gavin looked it up on ebird. I checked later, and it was a small group including Wes Biggs and Bill Pranty!

Marshall's Pen

We started the day with a nice flock of perhaps 40 Olive-throated Parakeets. Oddly enough, a Cattle Egret was flying around with them. The plan was to walk some of the trails early. We also wanted to check an area on the edge of the lawn that had Caribbean Dove yesterday. We saw Jamaican Woodpecker, Zenaida Dove, Red-billed Streamertail, White-crowned Pigeon, Jamaican Oriole, Western Loggerhead Kingbird, Black-faced Grassquit, and Black-throated Blue Warbler before we got to the dove area. We were standing near it, and a dove appeared on the lawn, but it was a Crested Quail-Dove! It moved back into the woods, and came back out on the lawn a couple of times as we stood there. Amazing! The birding gods smiled on us.

Further along we found Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo and Sad Flycatcher. Our guides are continuing to try to find the elaenia, playing the tape. They are amazingly persistent. Suddenly there is a response! The next problem is to locate the bird which is high up in the canopy. That was not so easy, but our guides are good, and they even managed to get it in the scope. I got my life Sclater's Elaenia, then it moved. Not everyone saw it, so we played the tape some more and followed the bird as it flew around. Again we got it in the scopes and more people got to see it. This continued until everyone saw. Some of us got multiple looks through scope plus binocular views. The birding gods are really smiling on us today!

Other birds seen this morning included Jamaican Tody and White-eyed Thrush. Jamaican Vireo was heard. As we got close to the house, a Jamaican Twig Anole, Anolis valencienni fell out of a tree right in front of us. It was quickly captured and we all got good looks at it.

Ann Sutton gave us a tour of Marshall's Pen before we left. It's an old house that's been expanded and rebuilt. It dates back to the early-mid 19th century. The Sutton family bought it in 1939, if I recall correctly. It passed into her husband's hands, and then hers upon his death. Robert Sutton was the leading ornithologist in Jamaica when they met. He was killed during a robbery in 2002. There's an obituary in the OSNA Newsletter.

Parottee Pond

Our first stop on the way back to Montego Bay was near the shore in the Parottee Pond area. We ate a picnic lunch and saw a few birds, including Smooth-billed Ani, Magnificent Frigatebird, Laughing Gull, Antillean Palm-Swift, Brown Pelican, Sanderling, Willet, and Black-bellied Plover.

We drove a short distance on to Parottee Pond, where we added Semipalmated Plover, Royal Tern, Cabot's (Sandwich) Tern, a white morph Reddish Egret, American Egret, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson's Plover, and a single Semipalmated Sandpiper. There was nothing really exciting there, but they made nice additions to my Jamaica list.

Rocklands Bird Sanctuary

Our next stop was the Rocklands Bird Sanctuary near Montego Bay. We got to hand feed Red-billed Streamertails. Other birds there included Black-faced Grassquit, Yellow-faced Grassquit (which I had missed several times on this trip), Caribbean Dove (great looks), Common Ground-Dove, Shiny Cowbird, Bananaquit, Orangequit (at point blank range, I finally got to study this bird). We also saw Jamaican Woodpecker and Jamaican Oriole. White-collared Swifts and Cave Swallows were visible overhead. Then we took a walk to see some staked-out birds: 2 Northern Potoos (in different places) and 2 Jamaican Owls perching near one another.

Montego Bay Sewage Ponds

We continued on into Montego Bay and checked out the sewage ponds. Northern Shoveler was the only new bird, but we also saw Ruddy Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Black-necked Stilts, Lesser Yellowlegs, Common Gallinule, and both coots. A bit further on, another pond had Spotted Sandpiper. Then we headed back to where we started the tour, Toby's Resort.

Today I totalled 67 species including 1 lifer, bringing the trip total to 131 species including 30 lifers.

Toby's Resort, Montego Bay