Events & Adventures
JAMAICA: Blue Mountains, Cockpit Country,
and Caribbean Coast
With Tod Winston, Lyndon Johnson and Wendy Lee
Thursday, January 9-Wednesday, January 15, 2013
(Pre-trip workshop: Thursday, December 12, 6:30-8:30pm)
Join NYC Audubon's Tod Winston and knowledgeable local guides as we explore Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, the beautiful Caribbean coast, and the little known, bird-rich limestone karst region called Cockpit Country. Jamaica, perhaps best known for its beaches and reggae music, is also one of the best places in the Caribbean for birding–home to at least 27 endemic species (species that live only in Jamaica), and many regional specialties. It is possible to see most of these birds in just a few days. Jamaican endemics include an owl, a woodpecker, a tody, several spectacular hummingbirds, and even a warbler. In addition, over 180 migrant species are known to visit Jamaica, and some—like the yellow-throated warbler and Cape May warbler—winter there. Our visit is timed perfectly to see both local island birds and wintering migrants.
These forests are home to more than 800 species of endemic plants and animals, including the Jamaican pewee and Jamaican oriole, as well as the world’s second largest butterfly, the giant swallowtail. While here we'll also visit some spectacular mountain-top properties with lovely views of the Blue Mountain range, including the Strawberry Hill resort and the beautiful Clifton Mount estate, one of the few remaining "Coffee Great Houses" of 19th-Century At 3,100 feet above sea level, the beautiful Woodside area is the ideal base camp for birding in the Blue Mountains, where most of the island’s endemic species can be found. Jamaica.
Heading down from the mountains, we'll head to the north coast--where we'll check into the Goblin Hill Villas at San San Bay, set on twelve acres of lawns and gardens overlooking sparkling Jamaican white sand beaches and turquoise Caribbean water. Port Antonio is one of the most unspoiled corners of Jamaica, offering an insider’s glimpse into the Caribbean of yesteryear. After several days of birding this endemic-rich spot, home to Jamaican blackbird and the black-billed streamertail, we'll leave Port Antonio via bamboo river raft-- meandering two hours down the majestic Rio Grande River through outstanding scenery, looking for masked duck, yellow-breasted crake, Caribbean coot, and more.
The Silver Sands Villas, along Jamaica’s north coast, are lovely private homes located right on the white sand beach, and are well situated for forays to see coastal birds such as frigatebirds and pelicans, and for exploring nearby Cockpit Country. This curious region, named for the deeply sloped valleys, is a region of steeply eroded limestone hills. This region is home to all but one of Jamaica's endemic species and is the only place where one can see both black- and yellow-billed parrots, two of the island's most endangered endemic birds. Black-throated blue warbler, yellow-throated warbler, Swainson's warbler, and Louisiana waterthrush all winter here as well.
—but is most famous for its feeding station at which the hummingbirds, including the incredible red-billed streamertail, known also as the Jamaican hummigbird or "doctor bird," will feed from small bottles right in your hand. Before heading to Montego Bay for our flights home, we’ll make one last, very special stop: the Rocklands Bird Sanctuary. The estate of the late Lisa Salmon, Rocklands protects many acres of forest in which endemic, local, and migrant birds thrive
March marks the end of Jamaica’s high season, with particularly fine weather. Highs are generally in the low 80s and lows in the low 70s. In the Blue Mountains, temperatures will be 10-20 degrees cooler, depending on elevation. Rain is generally scarce this time of year, but possible.
Price includes one pre-trip workshop. Limited to 12. $2,695 per person (double occupancy, $470 single supplement). For all national and international trips, membership in NYC Audubon at the Student/Senior level and up is required.