03 April 2015

Doctor Birds & Friends...JAMAICA (22nd March)

I visited the feeders of Starlight Chalet in the Blue Mountains, and there was where I got the killer looks at "Doctor Birds", or Red-billed Streamertails that any sane birder would desire. Along with the streamertails, the feeders attracted a female Black-throated Blue Warbler, several super Bananaquits, and some skittish Orangequits (from an endemic genus to Jamaica). 
In the afternoon, I glimpsed my first Crested Quail-Dove, which left me gagging for more, the bird soon evaporating, as only quail-doves can, back into the forest undergrowth. Better luck was had with the dowdy Greater Antillean Elaenia, before we needed to retreat from the rain, which moved in hard and fast. Once the rain had moved on we walked the quiet mountain road that cuts through the Blue Mountains, searching for one of the least common, and odd, endemic birds: Jamaican Blackbird. Most blackbirds of the Icterid family (shared with orioles and grackles) are birds of open country, and are typically seen in noisy groups. However, here is where Jamaican Blackbird breaks the rule; it from an endemic, and distinctly odd, genus; it is usually seen alone, and is forest bird, most often seen foraging in bromeliads, something any self-respecting grackle would be unlikely to do. By the end of the afternoon we had tracked down two of these inconspicuous birds, which rounded out a great day in Jamaica's scenic Blue Mountains.

An array of birds and endemics was sandwiched either side of the rain, from the dowdy and inconspicuous like Blue Mountain Vireo, to the dowdy and conspicuous, like Jamaican Pewee and Loggerhead Kingbird , to the gaudy and conspicuous, like Jamaican Spindalis...a few of which are shown here.
More from Jamaica's "coffee-plated" Blue Mountains to follow...

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