One of Jamaica’s top independent birding guides Lyndon Johnson shares some of his tips about exploring Jamaica, and why he loves his position as one of Hotel Mockingbird Hill’s premier guides.
1.What 3 qualities make a great guide?
- A guide should always be on time.
- Know more than what your specified tour is about.
- Answer all questions and if you promise to return an answers always do.
2. Why pay a guide when you can read a guide book?
What a person expects from a guide is more than what is written in a book. Local knowledge of places, chatting to local people you meet on the road and giving advice on other tour or points of interest. It’s about relationships and the many personal contacts one builds by living and knowing people in the local community.
3. What’s the most exciting thing about guiding birding and flora and fauna tourists to Jamaica
To see the joy on person faces and the excitement in theireyes that generates upon a great find. Finding a bird like a Swainson Warbler which is a good bird even for a US birder, days like those you do not forget.
4. What 3 things made you fall in love with birding
- The love for birds
- The love of the outdoors
- For me my job birding doesn’t even feel like work, I’m being paid to do something I really enjoy doing.
5) What other tour should no-one leave Portland or Kingston without visiting?
Every person who visits the island for a tour should take the time out to enjoy a little bit of the local culture. Stop at Boston for a bit of jerk, drink a Redstripe. For relaxation you can do the Rio Grande bamboo raft tour. Twymans coffee tour is also a good stop.
6. Most guides are part-time tell us a little about your other hat
I am a Forest Ranger and have been working for the Government of Jamaica for the past 3 years. My job is to protect the forest reserve against person wanting to illegally cut trees, farm in the forest reserve and all forms of hunting. I have worked with the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust for 5 years where my job is to do bird surveys in and around the Blue and John Crow Mountain National Park.
7. A book you recommend that gives the flavour of your speciality or Jamaica
Birds of Jamaica Photographic Guide is a good book which give good insight into the spread of the bird in Jamaica.
8. Cassava or Breadfruit? Patty or Gizzada? Redstripe or Rum?
Breadfruit, Patty, Rum