Sunday, February 17, 2013

Everything is Cool in Jamaica

I'm in Jamaica for my 13th tour here, and I'm still amazed by this place. Everything is cool. On the patio of our Port Royal hotel yesterday, I picked up this Long-horned Beetle (family Cerambycidae). Google searching quickly led me to the genus Eburia, but no perfect matches. The closest match was actually photos of a Jamaican endemic (E. jamaicae), but it's not quite right. I'll wait to hear back from one of the experts in this family.
[Update: Cerambycid expert Francesco Vitali says this is E. tetrastalacta, the most variable in the genus.]

Today was our first day in the field, but we had a slow start (everything goes slowly here in Jamaica), and we didn't actually start looking for endemic birds until we got to good habitat at about 1:30. It began raining around 3:30, and we tried to tough it out, but we finally gave in. After all, in those two hours we had seen 16 of the 27 endemic species on the island. The plant life here is also pretty amazing, and I was particularly thrilled to find this tiny, white Cranichis-like orchid. To my surprise, the photo shows a pollinator doing its job – some sort of tiny, hairy fly, probably endemic. The orchid may not be endemic – though there are over 200 species on the island, the seeds of orchid disperse well on wind currents.

We ended the day with an hour and a half of birding on the grounds of our lovely hotel where yet another 5 species of endemic birds were found, including this perfectly behaving Jamaican Owl.

We have plenty to look for in our next five days. There are not only six more endemic species, most of the group certainly want better and repeated experiences with some we saw today, plus there are all the endemic subspecies, many of which will certainly be elevated to full species eventually, and plenty of other Caribbean specialties.

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