Justin, John and I have been in Jamaica almost two weeks, and the “Sharpied” names on our Rite in the Rain notebook covers have already faded off, our shirts smell soberingly of rotting onion, and our feet are eager to be released from their boots at any opportunity. At one point John had over a hundred tick nymphs on his body––the actual count was 163––but we won’t talk any more about that.
We’ve seen over sixty species of bird in our twelve days here, and only one of them has been a swallow: the Cave Swallow. In general, aerial insectivores like swifts and swallows have been quite scarce, which is really surprising since we’re going through huge swaths of great habitat.
These last several days we spent covering the northern portion of Cockpit Country and its borderlands, getting both full rainforest and heavily
fragmented edge ecosystems, the latter of which actually seem more likely to host a pocket of Golden Swallows given their foraging and nesting behavior.
A road known as Barbecue Bottom in the northeast of Cockpit Country was among the last areas where the species was confidently seen, so we’ve been moving along cliffs, in valleys, and through head-high ferns to get the best views possible of ideal swallow habitat.
From here we’re heading down to check out the southern portion of Cockpit Country and reconnect with several of the interior trails that we hiked halfway on from the north so we could later tackle the remaining portions from the south. Over these last two weeks we’ve been getting great use out of our gear and we look forward to reviewing the panoply of items when we have time!