Jamaican Tody, Jamaica by Stu Elsom

Tour Dates: Friday 15th – Friday 22nd January 2021 (Kingston to Kingston) 
Tour Price: £2,350pp plus flight
Estimated Flight Price: London to Kingston approx. £600 return
Deposit: £450 per per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £200 – £300
Minimum Number: 6 people
Maximum Group Size: 8 people

Target Species
All 28 Endemic birds which can realistically be seen during a week.
These include Crested Quail-Dove, Yellow-billedParrot, Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo, Jamaican Owl, Jamaican Woodpecker, Red-billed Streamertail, Jamaican Today, Jamaican Becard, Sad Flycatcher, Blue Mountain Vireo, Arrow-headed Warbler, Jamaican Spindalis and Yellow-shouldered Grassquit. Plus a good number of Endemic Subspecies and other regular Caribbean species.

Tour Summary
This new tour to Jamaica is a very relaxed tour as it is a one base holiday located in the superb Green Castle Eco Resort. The resort is set in private grounds of around 1,600 acres with a good diversity of birding habitats from fresh water ponds to mangrove swamps, streams and forest. During the week we will be searching for the 28 endemic birds that can be found on the beautiful island of Jamaica. The beauty of this tour is that many of them can actually be found within the grounds of our accommodation! We will be exploring the numerous trails from our accommodation on different days and we will also visit the Blue and John Crow Mountains where we will look for the other remaining endemic birds.

This tour is also perfect for a non-birding partner as the grounds of Green Castle Resort are very relaxing with a swimming pool or even a hammock to unwind and simply enjoy the views!

ACCOMMODATION: 7 nights in Jamaica
All 7 nights at the very comfortable Green Castle Eco Resort
Inclusive Meals: Full board

DAY 1:  Arrival – Transfer to Green Castle Estate
Following our arrival at Kingston airport, the island’s capital, we will travel through some impressive mountain scenery until we reach our base at Green Castle Estate. The journey time is approximately two hours and on our arrival we are assured a warm welcome by the Estate staff before we are allocated our rooms. We might even get lucky with a Jamaican Owl in the gardens before dinner! Overnight Green Castle Estate

Jamaican Woodpecker by Stu Elsom

DAY 2: Green Castle Estate
Today, the birding will start right outside our rooms as we explore the gardens before breakfast where we are sure to find a good mix of true Jamaican endemics as well as a number of endemic subspecies.
True endemics such as Orangequit and Jamaican Oriole should be easy to find as well endemic subspecies like Olive-throated Parakeet, Loggerhead Kingbird and Vervain Hummingbird. Aside from the 28 true Jamaican endemics there are also at least 19 endemic subspecies. These subspecies are just as interesting as the 28 assigned endemics because in time, some of them may also be assigned to full endemic status!

After breakfast we will take a full day exploring a couple of the many birding trails. The pace will be relaxed, much like all life on a Caribbean Island! Whilst we slowly walk through the undulating hills we should see a good selection of key endemics like Orangequit, Jamaican Tody, Jamaican Oriole and Jamaican Woodpecker. Other impressive endemics we will search for include Sad Flycatcher, White-chinned Thrush and the mesmerising Red-billed Streamertail! Scarcer endemics we hope to find include Yellow-shouldered Grassquit and Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo. Overnight Green Castle Estate

DAY 3: Blue Mountains – Hardwar Gap
Today we will have an early start and take an excursion out from the estate to explore the Hardwar Gap and the Blue Mountains National Park. The Blue Mountains are famous for their coffee production, but we will be focused on trying to see three key Jamaican endemics, the Blue Mountain Vireo, Jamaican Blackbird and probably the trickiest of all the endemics, Crested Quail-Dove. If successful, we will then reward ourselves with some Blue Mountain coffee! As we proceed to the Hardwar Gap we will be birding at an altitude of around 1,300 metres walking along a quiet road through some wonderful cloud-forest. Species we will be looking for include Ring-tailed Pigeon, Jamaican Vireo, Rufous-tailed Flycatcher, Jamaican Pewee, Arrowhead Warbler, Jamaican and Greater Antillean Elaenias, the impressive looking and grandly named Jamaican Spindalis and the beautiful Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo!

After our evening meal we will go spotlighting for night birds. The targets will be American Barn Owl, Northern Potoo (endemic subspecies) and most importantly, the endemic Jamaican Owl. Overnight Green Castle Estate

Red-billed Streamertail by Stu Elsom

DAY 4: Green Castle Estate
Today we will stay local again and take a full day to explore some different trails within the Green Castle Estate. There are are around 20 miles of trails in the estate with many different birds, both resident species as well as a number of colourful winter migrants like Northern Parula and Prairie Warbler. Other species we should find include, Yellow-faced Grassquit and Greater Antillean Grackle, Black-whiskered Vireo and Loggerhead Kingbird. The aptly named Stolid Flycatcher will also be on our hit list along with the busy Jamaican Mango and the very shy Mangrove Cuckoo. Overnight Green Castle Estate

Vervain Hummingbird by Stu Elsom

DAY 5: John Crow Mountains – Ecclesdown Road
Another early this morning as we travel to the Ecclesdown Road and through the lush John Crow Mountains to the far eastern end the island. The name John Crow stems from the local name for Turkey Vultures.
The limestone mountains in this part of the island are exposed to the prevailing eastern Trade Winds and so unsurprisingly, it is the wettest part of the island. However, it is also one of the best for birding as all the endemics occur at this one site! Therefore this gives us a great chance to pick off new species as well as ones that we may have missed or species we simply want to enjoy more. Black-billed Streamertail is the key endemic to find here with its incredibly delicate restricted range found only in these rugged limestone mountains. Other specialities include both the Yellow-billed and Black-billed Amazon Parrots, and the very vocal Jamaican Crow.

The Ecclesdown Road itself will allow us further chances of finding any of the endemics that we may have missed previously. We will walk this quiet road for the rest of the morning where we should get some closet views of birds allowing for some good photographic opportunities too!
After lunch at Boston Bay, the world famous home of Jamaican Jerk, we will make a number of birding stops on our return to base. With luck we may find some waders as well as the expected Magnificent Frigatebirds and Royal Terns over the sea.
After our evening meal we will go spotlighting one again for night birds. Overnight Green Castle Estate

Orangequit by Stu Elsom

DAY 6: Green Castle Estate
A local day exploring more new trails! Today will be very much about targeting any species that we are missing or species that we would like to see better. Whilst birding the trails at Green Castle, there is usually always a surprise species that pops up. Some visits get lucky with a day roosting Jamaican Owl which will certainly be a top class sighting!

The afternoon will be at leisure for those that wish to take some time to relax or for the keener members of the group we will walk the nearby low cliff tops. Here, we should have great views of Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds and Royal Terns feeding offshore, as well as any surprises that are always possible on an island! Overnight Green Castle Estate

DAY 7: Flexible Day
Today is a flexible day dependent on our success with the endemics. Overnight Green Castle Estate

DAY 8: Airport Transfer
Today we will have the whole morning to enjoy the grounds of Green Castle before an early evening flight. There will be an option to take a final morning birding one of the trails or to simply relax and enjoy the gardens.

After lunch we will take the transfer back across the mountains to Kingston airport where the tour concludes.

Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides

Leader: Stu Elsom
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals, bottled water, tea & coffee, all entrance fees, ground transport and services of leaders
Not included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, alcoholic drinks and any airport/visa fees
Accommodation: Very comfortable lodge
Single Supplement: £270
Transport: A/C Minibus
Difficulty: Moderate
The walking on this tour will involve trails that are quite undulating on mostly gentle slopes. We will be covering walks of 3 – 5 miles a day. Therefore a reasonable level of fitness is required.
Climate: Subtropical, pleasantly warm to hot, dry and sunny.
Tour Start Point: Kingston airport, Jamaica
Tour End Point: Kingston airport, Jamaica
Suggested Airlines: British Airways

Jamaican Owl, Green Castle by Stu Elsom