In July 2013, I went to Jamaica for the 1st time. Being keen on nature in general and birds in particular, I searched the Internet for a bird guide; this is how I met Ricardo Miller on his website. His one-day tour to Hardwar Gap (in the Blue Mountains) and Hope Gardens in Kingston sounded quite interesting, and everything was arranged very efficiently by email.
He picked us up at my friend’s place at 5:30 am and provided her with a pair of powerful binoculars. After our 1st birding leisure walk where we particularly admired a Crested Quail-Dove lingering on the path, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast with local stuff. Another stop farther up the road let us admire gardens full of temperate and tropical flowers, and our first red-billed streamertail, the national bird; what an unforgettable sight.
At Hope Gardens, we enjoyed a local lunch at a nice outdoor place. Our bird list for the day: 37 species including 17 endemics.
That day was so pleasant I asked Ricardo for another customized outing; it was a full morning, starting at 5am, pick up time, walking in Hellshire from 6am till 9am, and breakfast before heading for Mountain Spring . His telescope came handy. The bird list was 42 species including 13 endemics.
Ricardo has a lot of patience and perseverance; he was determined to show me the northern Mocking bird AND the Bahama mocking bird in Hellshire, and he coaxed them both into coming nearer! In Mountain Spring, he did the same thing with the mangrove cuckoo.
Another quality to point out in Ricardo: the way he speaks English: I am not a native English speaker, but it was never a problem understanding him as he speaks so clearly.
I was very happy to have him as a guide for my first taste of Jamaican nature; hopefully, it won’t be the last one as I am planning to come back for his 8-day birding tour to see more of this large and fascinating island.
If you want more information, please feel free to send me an email; I’d be delighted if I can help.
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