28 + 14 = Port Antonio, A Host of Safe Endemics
A little-spoken fact about the rich island of Jamaica is that the island’s 4,111 square miles is home to over 200 birds. For those birders looking at exploring this Caribbean ornithological paradise, the less developed & tranquil North East of the island, where the coffee growing Blue Mountains meet the warm Caribbean Sea, provides an exclusive safe home to the island’s 28 Jamaican Endemics and 14 Caribbean Endemics and is the ultimate area to explore.
Higher than any Eastern United States mountain range, the Blue Mountains act as perfect nesting beacons for many species during December through to April, Jamaica’s dry season, when you can get to see warblers escaping the Northern Hemisphere’s winter and southern migrants begin to arrive.
Nestled into 7 acres of lush tropical hillside in the quiet, historic town of Port Antonio at the base of the Blue Mountains is Hotel Mockingbird Hill, Jamaica’s No.1 eco-chic hotel. The hotel itself is listed in Ralph Curtis’ Birds of the West Indies as “one of the best places for bird watching in Jamaica” due to its low-density housing, small woodlots and extensive gardens – a very “birdy” habitat. Flowering shrubs attract such species as the Black-billed Streamertail and the treed sections hold both Chestnut-bellied and Jamaican Lizard Cuckoos, to name but a few.
A comfortably intimate 10-room hotel, with light and airy rooms, Hotel Mockingbird Hill’s panoramic views of the Blue Mountains & Caribbean Sea are particularly inspiring at sunset when martini-on-fire skies are the perfect way to relax, Sundowner Cocktail in hand after a successful day’s birding. Mille Fleurs, the in-house organic restaurant recently voted ‘Jamaica’s Best Kept Secret’ by the Jamaican Observer provides delicious Euro-Jamaican fusion food accompanied by the calls of Jamaican Owls from the surrounding forests. It’s the perfect base for combining the pleasures of a Caribbean vacation (i.e. pristine beaches, Frenchman Cove Beach is just a complimentary 10-minute shuttle away) with exploration of an exceptional island.
Birding Day Excursions and Birding packages are arranged by the hotel owners utilising the local John Crow & Blue Mountain Park Wardens as guides, where the hotel supports a re-forestation programme. Not only will guides introduce guests to Jamaica’s unique bird species, but also its flora including a variety of ferns, butterflies, orchids (66 endemic species) bromeliads and other unusual flora. Two-centre birding holiday opportunities are offered by the team based at Lime Tree Farm (a working coffee plantation proclaimed by The Independent as “an exotic plantation retreat providing tranquillity, history – and a perfect brew!”) whom Hotel Mockingbird Hill believe provide the perfect base to birding high in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains.
Shireen Aga said,
“To celebrate our 15th anniversary of providing tailored birding holidays within Jamaica, for each birding holiday booked before November 2009 we will donate 1 tree to the John Crow National Park on behalf of each guest birder. Each birder when they arrive will receive a certificate, listing the tree and its location safe in the knowledge that their holiday is helping to provide homes and a safe environment for birds in Jamaica for another 15 years+”