The Natural History Society of Jamaica

2017. Events

We have several activities planned for this year, including field trips and seminars.


Field trip to Portland Ridge, Southern Clarendon with an Emphasis on Coastal Plants(PDF version)
Our next NHSJ field trip is planned to Portland Ridge, a dry peninsula in Southern Clarendon. First we head for "Sugar Wharf" on the Salt River Road for a brief look at the island's industrial heritage. Decades ago, sugar was shipped out to Kingston. The barges used are largely submersed and corroding (see image here). Mr. Hermann Tobisch, NHSJ Treasurer, will inform the group about the site. We will continue our ride via Lionel Town and Portland Cottage to Portland Ridge and concentrate on coastal plants along the road on the northern fringe of the mountain range. The road faces Portland Bight, is unpaved (see image below, we are looking eastward) and use of SUVs is recommended (see image here). The hike is not demanding, but there is not much shade.
A total of 46 plant species, many of them flowering, have been seen during a scouting trip on April 15, 2017 (see an illustrated list of selected species here). Mr. Patrick Lewis, M.Phil., Curator at the Herbarium (Dept. Life Sciences, UWI, Mona), will be our field guide. Among others, the reproductive strategy of the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), can be conveniently studied. During the scouting trip, water birds were spotted, and we will watch out for them again. A bird expert will probably be at hand and assist with identification.
Two options are suggested for the time after lunch. First: Jackson Bay for a swim at your own risk. It is a remote public beach without changing/bath rooms. The image next page taken during our scouting trip, gives an impression. A creeping plant, the beach morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae), dominates the sandy areas. Second - as an opportunity for photographers - a visit of the grounds of St. Peter's Church in Alley. According to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (, the church was built around 1715. Nearby lies a cemetery with an impressive Guango Tree (Albizia saman) and a pasture overgrown with Rice and Peas (Antigonon leptopus), a creeping plant introduced from Mexico.

Gear:Carry rain/sun protection, insect repellent, plenty of drinking water and wear comfortable walking shoes.
Meeting: 6.45 a.m. at the Scientific Research Council (off Old Hope Road), collection of fees, issuing of tickets for lunch, carpooling, start at 7.00 a.m., meeting at 8.00 a.m. at the Total Gas Station (bathroom available) on the northern end of the Salt River Road in Freetown. Take the "Freetown" exit of the South Coast Highway (silos of Hi-Pro Feeds visible, see map). Participants from the North Coast may join in at that stage. At about 12.30 pm, we are expected at Essie's Avant-Garde Cuisine, a simple restaurant on the main road in Portland Cottage, for lunch (cold drink, fish, chicken, rice and peas, rough salad, desert).
Costs: 1200 JA$ for members, 1500 JA$ for non-members (includes lunch)
Booking: To organize lunch, we need to know the number of participants. Please book with: If you do not receive a confirmation via email within 24 hrs, please phone 977 1076.
Deadline for Booking: Wednesday May 3, 2017 at 6.00 p.m


Hike on the Fern Forest Trail and Visit of an Eco Lodge in St. Ann (PDF version)
Our next NHSJ field trip is planned to the Fern Forest Trail. It is an abandoned road off the Northern section of the Fern Gully in St. Ann. The area is used as a nursery by the Ministry of Agriculture for replanting the Fern Gully. The trail follows a gentle slope and is not demanding (see image here taken in early February 2017).
About 500 different species of ferns grow in Jamaica. The emphasis of this field trip will be on ferns, but there are also flowering plants to see. Mr. Patrick Lewis (Herbarium, Dept. Life Sci., UWI, Mona), Ms. Judeen Meikle (Ministry of Agriculture) and Dr. Trevor Yee (formerly Natural Products Institute, UWI, Mona) will assist with identification. Ferns, a moss and flowering plants seen on a brief scouting trip in early February 2017 are compiled in a separate PDF here. After the hike, we will have lunch (cold drink, soup, chicken and rice, dessert) at Durga's Den about a 15 min ride from the trailhead. A guided tour of Durga's Den follows.

Click images to enlarge.
Fern Forest Trail Field Station

2016. Events


NHSJ Nov 24 seminar Monitoring of seabirds along the German coast by aerial surveys
Speaker: Mr. Norbert Kempf, a self-employed Biologist based in Hamburg Germany).
Time: 5.30 p.m. Refreshments; 6.00 p.m. Presentation
Venue: Botany Seminar Room, UWI Mona, Dept. of Life Sciences, Block B upstairs
More information

2015. Events


NHSJ Nov 26 seminarSeminar: Plant Diversity Attracts Bird Diversity in a Jamaican Garden
Speaker: Mr. Andreas Oberli, conservation botanist, forester and long standing member of the Natural History Society of Jamaica.
Time: 5.30 p.m. Refreshments; 6.00 p.m. Presentation
Venue: Botany Seminar Room, UWI Mona, Dept. of Life Sciences, Block B upstairs
More information


Dr. Karl Aiken Sargussum Seaweed Seminar on Sargassum Seaweed: The Newest Invader
Speaker: Dr. Karl Aiken, Senior Lecturer, Department of Life Sciences, UWI, Mona
Time: 5.30 p.m. Refreshments; 6.00 p.m. Presentation
Venue: Botany Seminar Room, UWI Mona, Dept. of Life Sciences, Block B upstairs
More information


Petting the crocodile Field Trip to a Crocodile Sanctuary in Springvale (St. Mary)
The next NHSJ field trip is planned to a crocodile sanctuary in Springvale (St. Mary) established by Mr. Lawrence Henriques. He is a Biochemist/Polymer Engineer by profession and has worked in several large manufacturing operations both in Jamaica and England for over thirty years. Wildlife conservation in particular reptiles has been a "second" occupation for him during this time and he has operated several crocodile sanctuaries/rescue/rehabilitation centres as well assisting the environmental agency regarding the national protection plan for the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), listed as a Cites 1 endangered species. An active member of the "International Union for Conservation of Nature - Crocodile Specialist Group", his primary mission is to educate the public about the need to preserve the species in Jamaica, which is under serious threat of extirpation due to habitat loss and poaching. At present, the sanctuary houses about 30 animals in small groups in safely enclosed shallow ponds fed by the White River. Mr. Henriques will give a seminar on the history of the place and provide information on the behavior and status of the American Crocodile in Jamaica. The property includes a pool of the White River and there is the opportunity to swim. Changing facilities are available. Lunch will be provided on site (cold welcome drink, soup, chicken, pork, rice, vegetables and beverage; sweet potato pudding for desert).


Field Trip to the UWI Port Royal Marine Laboratory with a Boat Trip through the Mangroves and Access to the Biodiversity Centre
The Port Royal Marine Laboratory is located at the end of the Palisadoes peninsula and is an ideal base to explore coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats in relatively pristine conditions. Staff of the laboratory will deliver a seminar on the biology/ecology of the area, arrange a boat trip through the Port Royal mangroves and provide access to the Biodiversity Centre, which was supported by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and houses wet and dry exhibits of mangrove biodiversity, seagrass and coral reefs with an emphasis on the inter-relatedness of these coastal ecosystems.
Starting out... Through the mangroves Fishing Boats at Rest


Field Trip to St. Ann to visit a Private Farm and Sussex Great House
We will tour the property with Naturalist Wendy Lee to see birds common to the area. Wendy Lee regularly conducts tours on this farm. David Rickham, owner of the farm, will speak about its history and current activities. The farm specializes in pimento, cocoa and guava. A walk of 1/2 mile to a river is optional. We will have lunch mostly using locally grown food (fricasse chicken, curried vegetables, ground provisions/breadfruit, callaloo, salad, cake, lemonade) on the verandah of Sussex Great House (Lime Hall), a Georgian style Jamaican 18th century building.


Annual General Meeting
Venue: Biology Lecture Theatre, Department of Life Sciences, U.W.I.
Registration: 9:30 a.m.
Business Meeting: 10:00 a.m.
Guest Speaker: Dr Herlitz Davis
Announcement and Meeting Agenda


Insects and their Kin

Nature's Jottings
April 1999

  • In this issue:
  • AGM Results; Science Teacher Honoured
  • Earth Day Seminar; A Caterpillar story more
Insects and their Kin

Nature's Jottings
June 2000

  • In this issue:
  • Development of the Biological Sciences; In the footsteps of a 19th Century Naturalist; Conserving Jamaica's more
Insects and their Kin

Nature's Jottings
January 2001

  • In this issue:
  • Annual New Year Party; Piano & violin Recital: A Benefit Concert
  • The versatile coconut; A field trip to more
Insects and their Kin

Nature's Jottings
November 2004

  • In this issue:
  • A field trip to Bellevue; A proposed trip to Santo Domingo
  • Mushroom jottings; NHSJ/IOJ benefit from EFJ more