Jamaica is well known to the world as the land of rum, reggae and white sand beaches, but there is a side to Jamaica lesser traveled and equally alluring. A walk through the island’s interior opens you up to a wonderland of beautiful flora and fauna. A hike through the Bluefields Mountains on the South Coast affords sightseers spectacular views of Bluefields Bay as well as an opportunity to take in some of Jamaica’s 280-plus species of birds who call the island home, including 28 that are found only on Jamaica.
The thickly forested Bluefields Mountains rise from the sea to nearly 2,600ft and are listed by BirdLife International as one of Jamaica’s globally Important Bird Areas (IBA). Among the plant species of the Bluefields Mountains is the Chusquea abietifolia, a bamboo that flowers only once every 33 years and is due for its next bloom in 2017. Jamaica’s other unique residents include the Jamaican Tody, a bird that nests in the ground instead of in trees, varieties of rare yellow snakes and the Giant Swallowtail butterfly, which has a wingspan of up to six inches and is thought to be the largest butterfly in the western hemisphere.
Jamaica has more endemics than any other island in the Caribbean. From the mountains to the sea, we are exceptionally fortunate at Bluefields to see a tremendous number of species of birds. In winter, through migration, we nearly double the number of species in Jamaica. These migrants can arrive in August and remain here until May. For birders from North America, it is a good opportunity to see species that do not occur in their home territory. Whilst for people from Europe, the winter season is an ideal time to visit and to catch the mainly North American influx. Many of the species that come at this time add to our own resident populations.
The Bluefields birdwatching tour is for the naturalist who wants a serious introduction to the many endemic species of beautiful Jamaican birds and butterflies. The views over the bay and from Savannah la Mar to Whitehouse are breathtaking. You will pass through pimento plantations and hope to see the elusive Mountain Witch. Of the 28 Jamaican endemic species, birders have observed 22, plus a further 13 endemic subspecies in this area.
Among the regular favourites are the Jamaican Tody, Jamaican Oriole, Jamaican Stripe-headed Tanager, Orangequit, Jamaican Euphonia, Jamaican Elaenia, Olive-throated Parakeet, Rufous-throated Solitaire, Rufous-tailed Flycatcher, Jamaican Woodpecker, Arrow-headed Warbler and White-eyed Thrush, Red-billed Streamertail, Vervain and Mango Hummingbirds. In spring, we have a few species that migrate to breed here, Black Whiskered Vireo, Caribbean Martin, Antillean Night Hawk. On your tour you will follow old parochial roads and well-defined tracks through woodlands and forest, with plenty of time to observe and enjoy the spectacular surroundings. For more details on the tour go here!