07 April 2015

Feeding time in Coffee Country...JAMAICA (25th March)

A full day was spent in "Coffee Country", AKA the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The Blue Mountains are best known for some of the most expensive, and arguably best, coffee on the planet. However, we were not here for beans, but birds, and the area is brimming with these too. During the morning I got my lifer Caribbean Dove, while another in the group got his lifer Crested Quail-Dove (my fourth and final of this Jamaica trip); in addition to those birds we finally tracked down a Jamaican Blackbird, and also got jaw dropping looks at a male Yellow-shouldered Grassquit, another of the bevy of endemic birds to found on this Caribbean isle.
With most of our Blue Mountains targets bagged by lunchtime, we were free to have a siesta, and to relax around our wonderful mountain chalet over lunch. I often do hard core birding tour, with little time to relax, with the real risk of missing birds in doing so. Thus, it was nice for a change and a more relaxed birding style, that the Caribbean demands. While others slept, I put my camera to work, as the feeders at the Starlight Chalet are superb. Just two feeders offer brown sugar water to hummingbirds and others, but in spite of lowly numbers of feeders (compared with, say, some Ecuadorian or Peruvian lodges), they were nothing of not busy and active with a procession of hungry birds....
The most regular "feeder bird" was also Jamaica's national bird, the iconic Red-billed Streamertail. Following hot on its heels were plentiful Bananaquits, with the odd Orangequit (also known locally as Bluequit or Blue Badas) for good measure too. Every so often a male Yellow-faced Grassquit would pop in too, while a pair of Jamaican Orioles held centre stage when they arrived, in dramatic fashion, on and off over several hours glued to the chalet's balcony. Also on the agenda were warblers too, with Prairie Warbler and a female Black-throated Blue Warbler showing their faces several times. This was a great way to "relax" (i.e. getting stressed at the missed photo opportunities, when I missed a bird sneak in behind me!) The chalet garden proved fruitful too, that morning a super confiding Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo, a real bruiser of a bird, loafed above the vegetable garden, while Sad Flycatchers picked insects off the chalet walls.

It was a great day, topped off with another encounter with the same young Jamaican Owl from a few days before, but also an adult too, for good measure...

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