Sunday, July 16, 2023

Hotel Mockingbird Hill - Drapers, Jamaica

On February 18 of this year we were in Jamaica on a genealogical trip with my cousin Chad Cannon, researching my third great grandfather who was a slave trader in the late 18th century. We spent the previous night in Ocho Rios, then made stops at Dunn's River Falls and Park and then Konoko Falls in Ocho Rios.  
Red-tailed hawk at Knoko Falls

Turkey vulture at Konoko Falls
American redstart at Konoko Falls.
From there we had a 65 mile drive to Drapers, on the A3, east along the north coast, past Port Antonio, about a 2.5 hour drive. We had reservations for the night at Hotel Mockingbird Hill. In planning our trip I saw a number of posts raving about Hotel Mockingbird Hill as a fantastic accommodation and a great place for birding. Fat Birder said it was one of best birding sites in Jamaica. He noted that the gardens have hosted all but a few endemic species and subspecies and in a few days there he saw more than a dozen endemics, most from the restaurant. It has glorious gardens and stunning natural scenery. Surfbirds called it “an internationally renowned, upscale boutique establishment” with a “bird-filled garden” that is “dove heaven.” The hotel’s extensive garden, along with Cinchona, was the birdiest site they saw in Jamaica in a six day trip. 

We arrived at Hotel Mockingbird Hill about 6:00 p.m. and were shown to our wonderful room and had a fantastic meal. See Judy's post on it here
I made reservations beforehand with Ricardo Miller of Arrowhead Birding to have a guide meet us at the hotel the next morning, February 19, to bird at Mockingbird Hill, then San San, then back to Kingston on the Buff Bay to Kingston Road through Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, to New Castle. Lyndon Johnson was assigned to us as our birding guide. “Mockingbird Hill Hotel” is no. 13 on eBird for Jamaica with 115 species. “San San Police Station Road” is no. 56 on eBird with 77 species observed.
Lyndon met me in the dark about 4:30 a.m. We walked around the front grounds looking for owls and potoos, unsuccessfully, then drove to San San, a 1.25 mile and 8 minute drive, a small preserve behind a police station that has many of the same species of birds as Ecclesdown, a top birding sight in Jamaica. There he played calls for owls and potoos and we heard both respond, but got no sightings. We eventually headed back to Hotel Mockingbird Hill and walked the grounds much more successfully. I had lunch at the hotel. 

Black-tailed streamertail (here and next)

Chestnut-bellied cuckoo (here and next two)

Common ground dove

Greater Antillean grackle

Jamaican lizard cuckoo (here and next)

Ring-tailed pigeon

Rufous-tailed flycatcher

Sad flycatcher

White-chinned thrush (here and next two)

White-crowned pigeon (here and next)

Then Chad joined Lyndon and I for another trip to San San, this time in the daylight. 
Green-rumped parrotlet (here and next)

Jamaican oriole (here and next)

Jamaican tody (here and next)

Jamaican woodpecker

Ring-tailed pigeon
After we came back to the hotel we gathered our belongings and made the drive through the Blue Mountains, a hair-raising drive along steep and narrow roads with a memorable stop with a hike up the side of a mountain to a shack inhabited by a person that Lyndon had made prior arrangements with, where we saw some wonderful birds.  
Crested quail-dove (here and next)

Jamaican pewee

Jamaican tody

Red-billed streamertail

Ring-tailed pigeon (here and next) - from a stop along the side of the road relatively close to Newcastle.

We eventually made it back to Kingston where we had a hotel for the night. 

1 comment:

  1. The streamertails are my favorites. I don't know how they keep those tails from getting snagged by branches. Mockingbird Hill was a great place, even for me. :)