Monday, April 12, 2010

WINGS Tour to Jamaica: Day 2, The Wet Forest of the East

We had all morning to bird some of the best habitat on the island – the wet forests along the Ecclesdown Road at the far eastern end of the island. While we are still looking for good views of Crested Quail-Dove, we at least heard a few today. The area is mostly forested with a few cleared acres here and there for coconut palms and bananas.

On of the special birds at this end of the island is the hummingbird Black-billed Streamertail, here looking up at a male with his fantastic tail feathers.

The Rufous-tailed Flycatcher is a noisy Myiarchus flycatcher, reminiscent of Great-crested but with a very different voice.

The Blue Mountain Vireo must be one of the most aberrant members of the vireo family – no wing bars, no face pattern, and pink (rather than bluish) legs and toes.

This was our first Yellow-shouldered Grassquit, the only member of the genus Loxipasser. The current AOU classification still has it with other emberizid buntings, but most recent DNA research shows that it's probably related to tanagers.

One of the rarer birds on the island is the strange Jamaican Blackbird. We had great views of this bird bathing in a giant bromeliad.

This large, white geometrid moth landed on this breadfruit leaf, too far for anything but a digiscoped image.

The snail diversity on Jamaica is mind boggling. There are at least 555 species on the island. This hairy one seems to be common on the eastern end of the island.

This live snail was crossing the road.

I don't see very many dragonflies on Jamaica, but the striking striped pattern of this one really caught my attention. According to Dennis Paulson, this is the first known photograph of a live Bromeliad Dragonlet, Erythrodiplax bromeliicola. It apparently carries out its life cycle in the large tank bromeliads.

There were some interesting plants and nice wildflowers along the Ecclesdown Road
This is in the genus Bidens.

These are giant Heliconia plants.

This unusual little mallow reminded me of Claytonia.

This melastome is common along the roadside.

This milkweed is probably Asclepias curassavica, and is a hostplant for Monarchs on the island. It apparently doesn't contain the poisons that make Monarchs in North America toxic, and one of the participants indeed saw a Gray Kingbird happily munching on a Monarch today.

After a classic Jamaican jerk lunch at Boston Bay, we were back at our Goblin Hill lodging for the afternoon, where the view from behind the villas is stunning.

We saw quite a few birds on the grounds. This is a Jamaican Oriole.

 The tanager Jamaican Spindalis was quite common here. In good light the males are gorgeous.

Before heading into town for dinner, we made another attempt to see Jamaican Owl on the hotel grounds. Last night after dinner we spent nearly 45 minutes trying to see one, hearing only two juveniles begging very close but buried in dense foliage. I assume the adults were off hunting out of ear shot. Tonight, with very little effort and before it was completely dark an adult owl flew in and landed in the open in a tree below the road in front of us. This was the first time I've ever looked down on a Jamaican Owl. Great end to a fun day.

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