Sunday, April 11, 2010

WINGS Tour to Jamaica: Day 1, Tropicbirds and Jamaican Blackbirds

What a fun day of birding today! A stroll around our hotel near the Kingston airport resulted in our first endemic – Jamaican Mango at very close range. But we also had several Vervain Hummingbirds, an endemic subspecies on the island. It's about the worlds second smallest bird, but the pugnacious males have no fear and sit on exposed branches to sing in defense of their territories.

We also saw a few wintering warblers in the area, including Northern Parula, Northern Waterthrush, Cape May Warbler, Prairie Warbler, and American Redstart. There were several territorial "Golden" Yellow Warblers around as well.

Our first birding stop after hitting the road was this gorgeous view where up to eight White-tailed Tropicbirds were flying back and forth in pairs, apparently courting. We saw them from the highway even before we had a chance to park.

We spent the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon on the famous Ecclesdown road. By the end of the day we had seen 19 out of 27 endemic species and heard another 5 or so. Our views of a foraging pair of Jamaican Blackbirds was a highlight. Jamaican Tody, Jamaican Spindalis, and Black-billed Streamertail (right on our hotel grounds) were also very memorable. We'll be getting better views of some of those 19 tomorrow during another visit to the Ecclesdown road, followed by a traditional Jamaican jerk lunch.

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