Roads and Trails Through Cockpit Country

A Turkey Vulture is king of the power tower

As I mentioned in my previous post, we’ve been traveling around Cockpit Country over the last week and a half by driving around from town to town and finding trails to lead us into the bush. Sometimes these trails are old roads that are clearly still sometimes used by SUVs and donkeys; often they are even older tracks that are for single-file passage and no longer pack-animal-friendly.

Justin on one of the “karstier,” more rugged valley trails

We started out our trip to Jamaica hiking some of these latter types of paths, accurately predicting that they would take us to places few people have birded and naively hoping that they would offer us views of hidden valleys or even the sky. They ended up being difficult to traverse and, as far as we can tell, not the right type of habitat for swallows.

John and Justin walk down one of the old roads

Then we advanced to the paths that are listed on our country map as the smallest state-paved roads. These have been more useful to us since they are wider and generally more open to the sky, and although we still can’t follow the road in the car this is actually better for us since we can focus more on getting all the views. Barbecue Bottom Road is one of these types of roads. Funnily enough, it’s listed as a second-tier highway despite the fact that it has rain-gullies crisscrossing through it, grass growing a meter high in the middle, and a massive rockslide that’s been blocking even motorcycles from following the whole road for several years now.

Exploring the “Alps” with two local guys

 The old roads like Barbecue Bottom tend to lead to farms that are still very much in use, and they’re often up on ridges looking over valleys, making for better birding. The inner forest trails are more for cutting through valleys and across hills to get from one side of Cockpit Country to another. Many of the people we’ve met at their farms have told us that the younger generation has no interest in being in the bush, or even the farm, which might explain why so many of the roads and trails have no maintenance. Even on the okay old farm roads, we’ve passed dozens of abandoned homes like the one John checked for Barn Owls (without testing the staircase) below.

John at an abandoned house off the road

2 thoughts on “Roads and Trails Through Cockpit Country

  1. Pingback: Jamaican Columbids | Raxa Collective

  2. Pingback: Melton West | Raxa Collective

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