This past weekend, the first stage of the Smithsonian’s Jamaican Golden Swallow Expedition came to a close. After a full month of exploring Cockpit Country for whatever aerial insectivores we could find, we flew back to Ithaca on the 14th. Now we will process our data and imagery for two weeks while restocking for the second trip.
From our work during the last month, we can pretty confidently say that the Golden Swallow is not hanging out in or around Cockpit Country. The question that remains is whether or not the bird is in the Blue Mountains area to the east. We’re going to be prepping for our time in that part of Jamaica over the next several days, finding appropriate maps and trails and learning more about the area with the help of park rangers.
We’re looking forward to the second trip in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, which should be quite different from Cockpit Country in matters like ecology, weather, trail maintenance, and travel logistics. Below is a before/after comparison photo of the three of us, with our best crazed bushmen grins in the lower shot. Our beards are coming in handy with the current sub-zero temperatures of Ithaca, but we’ll probably shave clean for the second trip to start fresh!