Friday, April 16, 2010

WINGS Tour to Jamaica: Day 4, Port Royal Mountains to Marshall's Pen

We spent one night at Starlight Chalet in the "town" called Silver Hill Gap. Most towns in Jamaica aren't really towns at all but rather the name of an area applied to the one spot in the road where the houses might be a little denser than the rest of the unrestricted sprawl that lines all roads in the county. Silver Hill Gap is where the north-south oriented Port Royal Mountains meets the east-west oriented Blue Mountains. A lot of coffee is grown in the region, but there is also some protected forest that is home to many fascinating birds.

It has been very humid with the sudden and well-pronounced onset of the rainy season, and the lights at the hotel attracted many moths. This butterfly-like moth is in Sematura aegisthus in the little-known family Sematuridae; I have seen a similar looking species in Amazonian Brazil.

This large moth is the widespread Black Witch, Ascalapha odorata.

This is another widespread moth in the sphynx family, Pink-spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata.

The way this red and black moth holds its antenna forward helps disguise it.

This moth's strategy to avoid detection is to mimic a bird dropping. I'm sure it works much better when it is on a branch or leaf, rather than a cement column.

This Sad Flycatcher probably makes the rounds each morning to glean the moths from the column and was completely unafraid of my presence. I was about 2 feet from the bird at times.

Before leaving our hotel we found a Lincoln's Sparrow on the grounds, one of very few records for the island. We spent most of the rest of the morning birding in the Port Royal Mountains.

We lucked into a Greater Antillean Elaenia, which I've seen on just a third of the trips.

The Jamaican Spindalis is quite common and a stunning bird as well.

The Loggerhead Kingbird in Jamaica is probably a different species from those found on other islands in the Caribbean.

A Red-billed Streamertail female posed for some time.

We then made our way to Mandeville in western Jamaica with a stop in Portland Cottage for the endemic subspecies of Bahama Mockingbird. Our route took us past a canal with some marsh vegetation where this Least Bittern stood out in the open sun. Click on the image (any image in the blog, actually), to see a larger size file.

After settling in our rooms at Marshall's Pen, we noticed some odd squeaking sounds echoing around the building. We traced it down to the endemic Jamaican Croaking Gecko, Aristelliger praesignis, one of which I found in the unused refrigerator.


  1. I took a picture of the black and red moth in Jamaica. With the antennae not like any other moth. you have the same moth on your website. Do you know by any chance what kind is it and its name?

  2. Hi Elina,

    I'm glad you asked, because I hadn't updated my blog with the names of the moths I found. The one you mention is Empyreuma anassa, in the family Arctiidae. Cool, isn't it?