Jamaica’s Green Castle Estate

If I had to make a list of my top ten birding sites, Green Castle in Jamaica would be on that list. I admit, after the first few days in Jamaica, I was a little let down because of some of our intial difficulties there. However, when we got to Green Castle, I became ecstatic.

Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani) at Green Castle…exciting!!!

It is truly an amazing place. There are many trails, many habitats, and plenty of room. We also had the most amazing luck as we were the only birders staying at the time, so we got the entire rainforest for ourselves. I will never forget what I experienced at Green Castle, and I recommend this place to every birder reading this post.

Here is a picture I took of a map in the guidebook that you can consult at the estate:

You’ll be driving in from Robin’s Bay road. You’ll get to a fenced gate that leads to the main estate. The trails are actually outside the locked gate but still on the property. If you want to do any spotlighting, you can talk to the staff. They’ll be happy to let you out at night and borrow a walkie-talkie so you can get back in.

Greater Antillean Grackle (Quiscalus niger)

The Tower Road Trail leads all the way down to Mango falls. There you can see Red-billed Streamertails hovering and drinking from the waterfall. All along the trail you’ll probably find a wide variety of birds. If instead you turned down the Cuckoo trail, you’ll come to a junction where you can go to the Reservoir. The Reservoir is a large lake that is incredibly rich in bird life. Expect to see American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Least Grebe, Blue-billed Duck, and of course if you’re lucky you’ll see the endangered West-Indian Whistling Duck.

West Indian Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna arborea)

We also were surprised to see so many birds by the shore of the Reservoir such as Spotted Sandpiper, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, and Green Heron. As soon as you get down to the Reservoir, there is a quaint bridge:

Cross that and you’ll get to walk to a small ridge that overlooks the Reservoir completely. There is a comfortable bench and it’s a great place to set up a scope or observe with binoculars. (We don’t own a scope actually.) While watching the birds in the Reservoir we also found a group of Olive-throated Parakeets eating in a tree behind us. The Reservoir is my favourite place at Green Castle.

Olive-throated Parakeets (Eupsittula nana) feeding in the trees at the Reservoir

Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis) feeding by the bank of the Reservoir

Back at the Windmill Tower you might find a slightly different set of birds like Mangrove Cuckoo, Shiny Cowbird, and even Barn Owl. If you exit the property by the beach you can also see Tricolored Heron and Cave Swallow. Maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to see Magnificent Frigatebird in the air. There are also a few ponds on the map near this area but they were dried up when we were around and you may only see them in or just after the wet season.

Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor) near Windmill Tower

The walking on these trails is also very peaceful since it is private property. It was just amazing walking around here, exploring the habitats of Jamaica. I highly recommend it, and also I would recommend spending at least four nights here.

Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo (Coccyzus vetula) says visit me at Green Castle!

Interested readers may also want to read the Jamaica overview page, which is in some ways more detailed.

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