Saturday, April 17, 2010

WINGS Tour to Jamaica: Day 7, Marshall's Pen and a Rain Day

Our last day of birding, and save for the missing Mangrove Cuckoo from the list, everything we see this morning here at Marshall's Pen will be for getting better looks or just enjoying these wonderful birds one last time before we head home.

This Caribbean Dove looked a bit uncomfortable on the raised feeding platform – they are almost always on the ground.

We also finally got perched views of a Ruddy Quail-Dove, but only barely. They are quite shy and almost always leave their song perches, usually well concealed, the moment they can see you. This one was quite hard to see, and we had to sneak up carefully on the forest edge before it came into view.

Before breakfast at 8:00 we had tallied 17 endemic species, as well as another new bird for my island list, Gray Catbird.

Another outing after breakfast was cut short when the rain began. It didn't stop for another 3 hours at least, so we did some packing and hung out on the porch. This is the first time in a decade of birding in April that I've had to take off a morning due to rain. Yesterday's heavy rain and the afternoon showers of the previous three days makes this by far the wettest tour I've done here. But it's a good thing – bird activity has been amazingly high (we saw all endemics in record time), and the island has been in quite a drought in recent months. They really need the rain.

We ventured out when the rain let up a bit, but we didn't see much. I snapped this shot of a blooming allspice tree, locally known as pimento. The dried fruits are used widely in local cooking and are known in the USA as a spice added to spice cakes and holiday recipes.

This is Turnera ulmifolia, a common flower in the gardens of Marshall's Pen.

We were entertained for a bit by a visitor, Stuart, and the juvenile Jamaican Owl that he is fostering. He found it being tortured by kids, who grow up with the superstition that owls are evil.
To save its life, a veterinarian had to amputate a leg. Hopefully this owl will be used in environmental education to prevent this sort of thing from being a common occurrence.

We finished our final day with a scenic drive across the island to Montego Bay, stopping by the incomparable Rockland's Bird Sanctuary, where Streamertails and grassquits perch on you. As we departed, a Jamaican Crow flew over, our 20th endemic of the day.

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