Jamaican-Canada Training Program in Cockpit Country:

Session #2 Trip Report
(30 April to 17 May 2002)
Paul Prior

Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada
provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

Bird Studies Canada
P.O. Box 160
Port Rowan, ON
N0E 1M0

Executive Summary

The following report is compiled extensively from notes taken during the second Jamaican bander training workshop, run from 30th April to 17th May, 2002. Training was split between field sessions (banding) and non-field sessions (lectures). The field sessions were conducted on fourteen mornings and one evening at a variety of sites in the vicinity of the Windsor Research Centre in Cockpit Country, a region of karst limestone hills covered in wet forest, interspersed with medium intensity agriculture (coffee, sugar cane and banana). The lectures were conducted on 15 afternoons on the verandah of Windsor Great House.

Five of the six participants showed excellent progress both in the field and non-field sessions, maintaining a high level of interest and enthusiasm throughout the workshop, and achieving competence in many aspects of the banding operation. From the six participants the top five trainees were identified and then ranked as to their suitability for further training at Long Point Bird Observatory in the fall of 2002.

There was a total of 454 bird captures of which 314 were banded (183 resident birds and 131 migrants), 105 recaptured and 35 released unbanded. A total of 23 species (3 migrants, 20 residents) were handled. Over the course of the 15 field-sessions the total number of net hours was 506, with 204 net hours at the site next to the Windsor Research Centre, 114 net hours at the site on Mr. Connolly's property, and a further 188 net hours at a variety of four other local sites. The overall catch rate for the entire workshop (excluding the 2 bananaquits caught as incidental to the more standardized sessions) was 89.72 birds /100 net hours. This is an overall higher catch rate than at Long Mountain site although the figure given for the Long Mountain site does not incorporate the extremely high catch rate that was achieved in Catherine Levy's back-yard! This higher catch rate was achieved despite fears that running a workshop this late in the season would result in a much lower rate due to the absence of wintering migrants. In the end the figures were bolstered by the unexpectedly high numbers of one of Jamaica's few summer visitors - black-whiskered vireo.

As with the first workshop the only real problem was one of absenteeism and this only really applied to one individual this time around. I feel that part of this problem lies with the perception of the workshop in the eyes of the institutions and employers who allow participation by their staff. If the project is to continue it is important that this issue is dealt with. The May timing of this second workshop, originally planned for March, was potentially a great problem but we were extremely fortunate with the weather, which remained unseasonably dry and cool until the last days of the workshop. I would urge that future workshops be run only in the months between November and April, avoiding rain and excessive heat, and coinciding with the presence of the largest number of winter visitors and migrants.

Windsor Research Centre provided the workshop with an ideal setting and the participants and trainers were well catered for throughout the session. Although catch rate was low at several of the sites these remain good sites for research, bearing in mind that a training situation - as opposed to a research situation - requires a relatively high rate of capture so as to maintain the pace of learning for the trainees. (full report)