World Record Birding at Green Castle Estate, Jamaica

The numbers are impressive but cannot do justice to the colourful and unusual nature of Jamaica’s birds. Which is why they have to be seen to be believed! Jamaica is the third largest of all the Caribbean Islands, 146 miles east to west and 51 miles north to south.

The lush grounds of the estate

From the coastal plains to the densely forested mountains, Jamaica contains a great variety of landscapes and vegetation. Key habitats include the coast, wetlands, montane forest, farmland and both wet and dry limestone woodland. Each habitat contains a distinctive avifauna but all of the key species can be found in a few, readily accessible sites. The ease with which so many endemic birds of Jamaica can be found is one reason why Jamaica is such a popular destination. With such a wide variety of endemic bird species Jamaica has become one of the international destinations for bird watching amongst the birding community.  Jamaica has a tropical climate all year round ensuring excellent visibility to see the birds of Jamaica.  Green Castle Estate tour recommendations provide bird watchers with the best chance of seeing and photographing this fascinating range of endemic birds, together with over 100 migratory and Caribbean endemic bird species, making for a colourful and spectacular landscape. 

This was partly why leading birding enthusiasts, Arjan Dwarshuis and Jonathan Rossouw chose Green Castle Eco Resort to help achieve their recent world records.  Arjan visited in 2016 as part of his attempt at setting the world record for number of species seen within a single year (known as ‘Arjan’s Big Year).  In 2018, Jonathan set a world record of becoming the youngest person to see 9000 bird species before his 50th birthday.

The Doctor Bird – Red-billed Streamertail

The large size of Green Castle’s estate means a diversity of ecosystems, including freshwater ponds, a mangrove swamp, streams, forests, pastures and coastline. Iconic species like Red-billed Streamertail, Vervain Hummingbird and Jamaican Mango are hard to miss, even in the garden! Many other endemics are regularly encountered on a short walk, including colourful species like Jamaican Tody, Jamaican Woodpecker, Jamaican Parakeet and Yellow-shouldered Grassquit. During autumn and winter, a range of colourful North American wood warblers add to the birding spectacle. Whilst most species are to be found in the extensive forest, the reservoir also attracts an interesting diversity of birds including the local race of Northern Jacana and the elusive West Indian Whistling-duck and we have been a hot spot in the past for the masked duck. Open areas attract Barn Owl and Antillean Night-hawk. The coast has breeding White-tailed Tropicbirds and at dusk hundreds of egrets and herons arrive to roost in the mangroves. After dark, Jamaican Owl and Northern Potoo can be found close to the main house. You will be surrounded by birds from dawn to dusk!

Vervain Hummingbird

Part of Green Castle’s birding tours include heading over to its coastline looking for shorebirds such as White-tailed Tropicbird, Magnificent Frigatebird, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Least Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Plover and Spotted Sandpiper. During the evenings at Green Castle, it is popular with birders to do a little night birding to look for Jamaican Owl and Northern Potoo, an endemic Jamaican sub-species and a potential ‘split’ in the future.

At Green Castle, all but one of the island’s endemics have been recorded with most groups regularly seeing all 28 endemics birding at Green Castle when combined with two mountain trips of carefully curated birding tours to the Blue and John Crow Mountains ensure bird watching enthusiasts can see all endemic birds of Jamaica and over 100 Caribbean endemics and migratory bird species as well. Over 100 bird species are regularly seen during Greencastle’s bird watching tours, with 171 species being the record.  All of this mostly within Green Castle’s private 1,600 acre/6.5 km2 rainforest. This is why major birding companies from around the world bring their birding guests to stay with us.

The best time to visit from a bird watching perspective in terms of numbers is November to April, however for Jamaican endemics and Caribbean endemics, any time of the year is fine to visit.

To find out more about birding, birding tours and Jamaican endemics at Green Castle, visit HERE 

This is an original article from Green Castle Estate House which is located at Robin’s Bay Road, St. Mary, Jamaica

Green Castle Estate House Verandah

Having birded the island myself I can vouch for it as a dream destination, with comfortable accommodation, superb beaches and lush bush full of birds and birdsong. Wandering the gardens of one of the large specialist villas makes for easy and relaxed birding and terrific hospitality. There are independent tour companies and birding packages offered by a number of eco-resorts just like Green Castle Estate. There’s nothing quite like sitting on a tropical veranda after a fine meal with a rum punch in your hand after a ‘hard day’s birding! Fatbirder