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  1. The Red-flanked Bluetail in Los Angeles! Saw it a couple months ago, but it was extremely difficult to photograph at that time. We got some fantastic views this time. Red-flanked Bluetail by mattgrube, on Flickr
  2. TRIP SUMMARY: In all, we really enjoyed the trip. I had some concerns going in, mainly due to safety issues that non-birding friends had warned me about in Jamaica, and on the birding front about whether we could do it without a guide. I never felt unsafe while in Jamaica. The people were very friendly. Sure, in the towns people are often trying to sell you goods, but we never had any that were overly pushy. Many of the locals out in the rural areas were very friendly. On the birding front we did quite well. In reality we really didn't even need to stay so long. We got all 27 endemics in just 2.5 days! A guide certainly might have helped for some of those endemics, and surely we would have seen a few more non-endemics birds. We never saw a Northern Potoo (wouldn't be a lifer), but I'm sure a local guide would know exactly where a reliable day roost is. Perhaps we might have had better luck with Bahama Mockingbird and West Indian Whistling-Duck? Overall, no regrets. It often is a lot of fun to just be out birding with your friends! If you are out for pure numbers of birds, smaller islands will never be your best bang for the buck. However, they offer up birds that are just not present anywhere else, and sometimes in a relatively high concentration. Anyone who plans on doing even a moderate amount of traveling to see birds will want to hit up the Caribbean. Species total - 132 Endemic species - 27 of 27 Caribbean/Bahamas endemics - 39 Native lifers - 40 Introduced lifers (presumably countable) - 3
  3. For our final half day in Jamaica we decided to get back to "better" Jamaican birding, looking for the endemics, rather than fruitlessly trying to find that duck. On our first day we went to Stewart Town in the afternoon and enjoyed it, so we thought it might be worth going back there and see what it is like. We would also have more time to explore into new areas. There was also one target to look for. In all, we did rather well and saw 21 of the 27 endemics (plus the near-endemic Jamaican Oriole). We did end up seeing distant Green-rumped Parrotlets, which are introduced to Jamaica. Some of the highlights were great looks at a male Jamaican Becard, a ridiculously cooperative Rufous-tailed Flycatcher (earning its local name of Big Tom Fool), and a very close Jamaica Elaenia. A Ruddy Quail-Dove flushed from right in front of us and was never seen again, which is unfortunately how we saw all of them during the trip. Yellow-billed Parrot by mattgrube, on Flickr Rufous-tailed Flycatcher by mattgrube, on Flickr Rufous-tailed Flycatcher by mattgrube, on Flickr Jamaican Becard by mattgrube, on Flickr Jamaican Becard by mattgrube, on Flickr Arrowhead Warbler by mattgrube, on Flickr Jamaican Elaenia by mattgrube, on Flickr Many additional photos are in the eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S52301278 On the drive back to Montego Bay to catch our flight we made a quick roadside stop at the beach and connected with some Ruddy Turnstones which we had somehow managed to miss up to that point. Of course the airlines weren't gonna let us get home without any delays. Flying into Jamaica we were delayed because they put in too much fuel, well, this time we were delayed because they had not put enough in. Luckily we had a long enough connect in Miami that we were there in time. No matter, though, because that flight ended up getting delayed by about two hours since they needed to change a tire. What luck, all 4 of our flight segments were delayed by mechanical issues or human error.
  4. Yellow-bellied Siskins Yellow-bellied Seedeater Rufous-collared Sparrow and Palm Tanagers A Euphonia...I suspect Thick-billed Clay-colored Thrush Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
  5. After finding the Crake, we really only had one major, semi-realistic target left. We spent a bunch of time checking around the southwest side of the island hoping to stumble across a West Indian Whistling-Duck, and ultimately we had no luck whatsoever. We had thought about checking out the Fonthill Nature Reserve, but we got a bit short on time. About a week after we got back, some reports of Ducks came in from that area. Too bad we didn't give it a try (or that the reports hadn't come in sooner)! Oh well, they are supposed to be easier to find on other islands, so maybe some time in the future. The other interesting news that recently came from Fonthill is that a Kirtland's Warbler was just found. It is the first record for Jamaica! This is a highly surveyed area, so it is unlikely that there is an unknown wintering population. More likely it is an out of range wintering bird, but in any case, it is probably a good sign for this species that has shown a great comeback. A female Yellow-faced Grassquit outside our B&B in the morning. I also saw a Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo fly by. Yellow-faced Grassquit by mattgrube, on Flickr We searched around the Parottee Pond area as it looked good for the Ducks. A local told us that a lot of birds come in during the morning and evening, and that he has ducks there. It was sounding promising, but then he described having like 200 Whistling-Ducks. At that point the story started sounding a bit fishy, and we decided it wasn't worth staying there until late afternoon. Finally our best looks at Vervain Hummingbird. It is said to be the second smallest bird in the world, only slightly larger than the Bee Hummingbird in Cuba. Although, it might take the record for the smallest eggs. Vervain Hummingbird by mattgrube, on Flickr A boat trip along the Black River was pretty slow. They told us they knew of 1-2 locations where the Whistling-Ducks have nested. No luck, but we may have had better luck if we had been there early in the morning. Main highlight was spotting a Least Bittern hidden away. Cattle Egret by mattgrube, on Flickr Least Bittern by mattgrube, on Flickr With not much better to do, we decided to look for a few species that would be new species for our Jamaica lists, so we headed to the beach to find birds like Sanderling, Willet, Semipalmated Plover, Wilson's Plover, etc. Wilson's Plover by mattgrube, on Flickr Magnificent Frigatebird by mattgrube, on Flickr Outside our lunch stop run by a Rastafarian (really good vegetarian food), we finally got a few decent looks at a Jamaican Mango. Jamaican Mango by mattgrube, on Flickr Finally, on our way back to the Montego Bay area, we gave another try for the Whistling-Ducks that had been reported at a golf course, and again came up empty. White-crowned Pigeon by mattgrube, on Flickr
  6. I don't have much experience with Guatemala, but just to get things started 1. Suspect Cabanis's Wren 2. I don't think it's Emerald-chinned, that bill looks way too long 3. Long-billed Starthroat 4/5. Pass. These might be Blue-tailed, but I'll leave that to others. 6. Azure-crowned Hummingbird
  7. At this point we were starting to run low on targets. There had been a recent report of a few West Indian Whistling-Ducks from a golf course a bit west of Montego Bay. We gave it a try but couldn't find them. The golf course is closed to the public. We could see pretty much all the ponds from the road. Perhaps we missed them if they were tucked away. We then traveled south and ended up along the Black River at a place called Elim Ponds. Lots of waterfowl were again here. In the past the Whistling-Ducks have been reported in the general area, but nothing recently. Again, we didn't find any. We did have another target. Although not a lifer, we were happy to see a Spotted Rail. Spotted Rail by mattgrube, on Flickr After trying a few different spots, my friend finally noticed some grass move in response to playback. After playing cat and mouse for a while, we finally got exceptional views of a Yellow-breasted Crake, our main target for the location! Yellow-breasted Crake by mattgrube, on Flickr Yellow-breasted Crake by mattgrube, on Flickr Yellow-breasted Crake by mattgrube, on Flickr Yellow-breasted Crake by mattgrube, on Flickr Yellow-breasted Crake by mattgrube, on Flickr We also had our only Limpkins of the trip, only Magnolia Warbler, and a calling flyover of the only Solitary Sandpiper. https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S52252373
  8. The next morning we went to a spot just south of Falmouth. The original plan was to go here the very first morning, but the flight fiasco nullified that plan. There was one main reason to go here. Plain Pigeon is a tough bird on Jamaica, but some birders have noticed that there seems to be a roost in the area, and they can be spotted in the morning as they fly out of the roost. So sure enough, not too long after sunrise we got the first few fly over. Over the course of the next half an hour or so they kept on coming. We counted at least 141 Plain Pigeons! Plain Pigeon by mattgrube, on Flickr Right next to where we parked the car we had a Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo out in the open for a few seconds! Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo by mattgrube, on Flickr In uncharacteristic fashion, we went back to the hotel to actually eat a real breakfast. There were a few birds in the area such as Common Ground-Dove, Greater Antillean Grackle, Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull, Magnificent Frigatebird, etc. However, while we sitting down and eating breakfast one of the others looked out into the bay and spotted an American Flamingo! There are few Flamingo records in eBird for Jamaica, but I'm sure there are way more seen than get reported to eBird. We asked the boat drivers at the dock, and they said they might see them one or twice a year. Unfortunately, the boat drivers couldn't take us closer to get better photos. Common Ground-Dove by mattgrube, on Flickr Greater Antillean Grackle by mattgrube, on Flickr American Flamingo by mattgrube, on Flickr https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S52226319 We then hit the road heading west back to Montego Bay. A stop at the water treatment plant turned up a lot of waterfowl and shorebirds. There were lots of Northern Shovelers and Blue-winged Teal, with smaller numbers of Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck, and Least Grebe. Previously the Coots had been split into Caribbean Coot and American Coot, but they were recently lumped back to just American Coot. We saw a few of the type that were previously Caribbean Coot, which have a white shield extending further up the forehead. A few land birds were also around, including some Scaly-breasted Munia, completing our introduced Munia trifecta for Jamaica (how exciting). Prairie Warbler by mattgrube, on Flickr American Coot (White-shielded/Caribbean) by mattgrube, on Flickr https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S52252479
  9. It's most definitely a Hutton's Vireo. Thicker bill, thicker and somewhat bluish colored legs. Also note that it lacks the "kinglet bar", which is the dark black "bar" beneath the lower white wing bar.
  10. Later we continued down to the Hector's River area and checked out the cliffs. This is a popular spot to look for White-tailed Tropicbird. We had no luck, but I'm sure looking early or late in the day would be far more productive. Only plus was getting really nice looks at a pair of American Kestrels. You'll notice this subspecies looks a bit different than we are used to seeing in the US. American Kestrel by mattgrube, on Flickr American Kestrel by mattgrube, on Flickr We had quite a bit of driving to do the rest of the day as we headed back north and west along the coast. Much of the time it was raining, too. We decided to take a quick stop by Green Castle Estate as we had seen lots of eBird reports out of there. However, there was a very obvious sign that said you needed prior permission to enter the grounds. We ultimately somewhat haphazardly ended up in Falmouth and decided on a hotel called Glistening Waters. As we were checking in they asked if we wanted to do the boat trip that night. Why would we want to do a boat trip at night? Well, because that bay has bioluminescence! It turned out to be the non-birding highlight of the trip. Swimming in the warm water at night with the ocean water glowing as you move through it was far more entertainment than I was expecting that night. Did was still raining hard, otherwise I would have attempted to take some pictures. Here's a photo from the hotel's website
  11. The next morning we headed straight for Ecclesdown Rd on the far east end of the island. It is said that all 27 Jamaican endemics are possible along this road. We did record a fair number of species, but overall we didn't really have that great of luck in seeing many species very well. Perhaps it was just the day. In total we had about 40 species, including about 17 of the endemics. A few may have gotten away, too. Pretty sure we had very brief views of a Jamaican Blackbird, but not seen well enough to confirm (this is one of the best places on the island to find them). A Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo was heard and then briefly seen in flight. We also heard a vireo that sounded dead on for a Black-whiskered Vireo, but they aren't supposed to be around yet. Ring-tailed Pigeon by mattgrube, on Flickr On the far east end of Jamaica the Black-billed form of Streamertail is present. Some taxonomies treat them as different species, but eBird/Clement's treats both as subspecies of the parent species called Streamertail. I was a bit bummed to never get any worthwhile photos of an adult male, but one female did cooperate. Streamertail (Black-billed) by mattgrube, on Flickr Smooth-billed Ani by mattgrube, on Flickr Smooth-billed Ani by mattgrube, on Flickr https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S52225084
  12. Lots of great places in South Texas. Estero Llano, Sabal Palm, Bentson-Rio, and Santa Ana are always good for the specialty birds. Some species like Audobon's Oriole tend to be more reliable out at Salineno. The Whooping Cranes are further north. If flying from Corpus Christi, it often makes sense to look for the cranes either at the beginning or end of the trip when you are up that direction. I'd pay attention to where the rarities are being reported. Currently lots of good birds like Golden-crowned Warbler, Blue Bunting, Hook-billed Kite, Roadside Hawk, and Crimson-collared Grosbeak. I'd focus on going to those locations and picking up the specialty birds along the way. After that you should have very few remaining targets (like perhaps Aplomado Falcon), and then use eBird to direct you to those remaining species. If you don't care about the rarities, then I'd just tour the main WBC sites and you'll have a great time.
  13. How about a female Black-crowned Antshrike? Depending on how old your book is, it might be called a Western Slaty-Antshrike in the book (it was in mine!). The range, large bill, wing pattern, and undertail pattern all fit pretty well.
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