April 7-13, 2001
Allen & Nancy Chartier
|Day 1, Saturday, April 7, 2001|
|We left home at the ridiculous hour of 4:30 a.m. to catch
our 7:00 a.m. American Airlines flight to Miami. The schedule had
changed at the last minute, departing 20 minutes later and, of course,
our international flight was leaving 5 minutes earlier. We hoped the
shorter connection would be OK.
We arrived in Miami a few minutes early, which allowed for the usual 1/2 mile walk to our connecting flight. The airport was under construction, and the only restroom open along the way had two stalls and lots of people in line. We didn't see many birds on our short stay here, just the usual Cattle Egrets (14), a Barn Swallow, and an American Kestrel.
Our American Airlines flight took off a few minutes late, and we arrived in Montego Bay about 10 minutes early. We met Rich Hoyer, leader of this WINGS tour, who told us that some people had arrived and others would be coming in at 2:00 and 4:30. Robert Sutton soon came by along with three others who had arrived before us (they went birding nearby). We went to lunch, then Rich and three other arrivals met us in the restaurant. We then decided to kill some time until the last participant arrived by going to the Rocklands Bird Sanctuary. The woman who started it in the 1950s had died two years ago at age 95, but a nice gentleman named Fritz was doing quite well managing the place. This site is world famous as the place where Red-billed Streamertails perch on your fingers to feed.
Robert picked up our last arrival and returned. We then drove for 3 1/2 hours to Marshall's Pen. The roads weren't as bad as Rich suggested, but it definitely was a long drive. We met the final three participants (14 in all), who had arrived late last night from the U.K. We had a late dinner and turned in around midnight (1 a.m. at home).
|Day 2, Sunday, April 8, 2001|
|We were up at 5:30 for a 6:00 bird walk on the grounds of Marshall's Pen. Breakfast was at 9:00, and we went back out afterwards for more birding until lunch at 2:00. At 3:00 we drove west to the North Black River Morass. It rained a good part of the time, and we missed most of our target birds. We got back to Marshall's Pen around 7:30 and had dinner at 8:00. Brief owling after dinner turned up nothing.|
|Day 3, Monday, April 9, 2001|
|We were up at 4:30 for a 5:00 departure for the
"cockpit country." We were delayed leaving when the Jamaican
Owls were heard calling. The local pair provided great views; then we
were on our way by 5:20. We arrived at a non-place (itís on the map)
called Burnt Hill.
We walked along the narrow roads here, finding additional endemics. We had our "boxed breakfast" at 8:00 and continued birding farther along the road. We headed back for lunch, stopping briefly at a field where we saw the Jamaican race of Grasshopper Sparrow. We had a 2:00 lunch again, then had the afternoon free. We spent the time "relaxing", and Allen went out to photograph the Northern Potoo we had found yesterday (we didn't bring the scope along yesterday).
After a 7:00 checklist session, we had dinner and turned in.
|Day 4, Tuesday, April 10, 2001|
|We did some final birding at Marshall's Pen before
breakfast at 7:30. After breakfast, we packed up the vans and departed.
We first went to the Portland Peninsula where we saw a good number of
shorebirds, as well as warblers, and the local specialty, Bahama
After driving through Kingston, we drove northeast into the Port Royal Mountains, which are a small range west of the Blue Mountains proper. We eventually got to our accommodations, The Starlight Chalet Spa near the town of Section near Hardwar Gap. We settled in, had dinner, did the checklist, and turned in for the night.
|Day 5, Wednesday, April 11, 2001|
|After a 5:30 breakfast, we drove out to bird the road
between Silver Hill Gap (near the hotel) and Hardwar Gap. We were
successful with the Jamaican Blackbird, but only partly successful with
the Crested Quail-Dove, our two main targets for the day. Around 11:30
it started to rain hard, so we headed back to the hotel for lunch. After
lunch, we had a little free time and Allen went out down the road a
little ways to photograph whatever was available (the rain had stopped).
Nancy decided to rest her eyes.
In the afternoon, we went to some additional areas along the same road as this morning. This time, we were extremely successful with the Crested Quail-Dove, and Allen even got to take a couple pictures.
After dinner, Robert took us out on a short frog walk, identifying the four species of Eleutherodactylus frogs that were calling all around. It was really nice that we were with someone that knows these things, as we typically have to just listen to these night sounds without putting names to them.
|Day 6, Thursday, April 12, 2001|
|We were up for a 5:30 breakfast and a planned 6:00
departure. Unfortunately, two flat tires on one van had to be changed,
and a very slow checkout process at the hotel delayed us until nearly
We drove north to the coast, then east around the eastern end of the island. We stopped at some cliffs where we saw White-tailed Tropicbirds and a nest of the Cuban race of American Kestrel. We then went into the foothills of the John Crow Mountains looking for Black-billed Streamertail. We succeeded, and found another Jamaican Blackbird as well. From here we continued around the island toward Kingston. Another flat tire had to be changed, then we drove to our hotel near the Kingston airport.
We had our fairwell dinner and said goodbye to those that were leaving earlier than us tomorrow morning, then turned in for the night.
|Day 7, Friday, April 13, 2001|
|Rich and some of the group had early flights, but several
of the group were in the restaurant when we came down for breakfast.
Allen's intestinal upset, which had been annoying but not critical since
the third day of the trip, was worse this morning so we just hung out in
our room until our shuttle to the airport arrived at 10:30. We got
checked in and went to the gate. Another x-ray at the boarding area
seemed unnecessary. We were on our way on time around 12:45, arriving in
Miami at 3:30 p.m. local (Eastern) time.
We killed the three-hour layover by walking around and having dinner. Our flight left on time at 7:15 p.m. and we arrived in Detroit at 10:00 p.m. It was nice to see that spring was still present at home as we were greeted by a Spring Peeper calling from the woods across the street, our first of the season.