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Birdgiddie Cave,
aka Burguddie Cave, Raymonds Cave(?)

August 10, 2010



District: Belmont

Parish: Clarendon

WGS84 L/L: 18 02 26.7, 77 20 48.4

JAD2001: 713283 E, 654545 N

JAD69: 213172 E, 154256 N

Altitude: 520m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- 5m horizontal; +/- 10m vertical

 

Type: Chamber

Accessibility: Scramble or vertigear

Depth: 45m

Length: 155m

Explorers: GSD, 1954. JCC, 1966 (?)

Survey: None

JU Ref: pg 94, 304

JU Map: N/A

Entrance size: ~7m W, ~6m H open at top of cliff

Entrance aspect: SE

Vegetation in general locale: Scrub/farm/bauxite

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Geology: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Poor

Speleothems: Stals

Palaeo resources: None seen

Archaeo resources: None seen

Hydrology: Dry

Dark zone: 90%.

Climate: ~23 deg C, semi-humid.

Bats: ~2500

Bat guano: Some

Guano mining: Occasional

Guano condition: Some fresh/fluff

Visitation: Occasional

Speleothem damage: None

Graffiti: ?

Trash: Some (bottle torch)

Ownership: Private

Protection: None

Vulnerability: High.


Birdgiddie/Raymonds Cave
February 6, 2010
Team: RS Stewart, Kingman, Neville Blackstock, Tess Blackstock
Notes: RS Stewart

Birdgiddie/Raymonds Cave was visited on August 10, 2010, in assistance to the biodiversity division of NEPA and their investigations into the current status of bat-roosts in Jamaica. The primary task of the JCO in this project is to locate and conduct an initial assessment of the sites, and then forward baseline data.

We must first address the identification of this site: Several days of fieldwork in the district suggest that there are two entries in JU for the same cave, Birdgiddie and Raymonds. The reasons follow:

The cave most closely matches the description for Raymonds, including the text for Belmont Cave-1, "The upper decorated section appears to approach Raymonds Cave, but no connection is known". This is indeed the case. We also have in the text for Raymonds, "A 15m entrance scramble to a 7m high descending passage entering a large chamber. A higher level passage returns to the entrance." That is exactly what we found, except that the higher level passage reaches the outside about 10m to the SW of the main entrance, and is now mostly blocked by Jamalco bauxite land reclamation (a small opening with a strong breeze still exists).

However, the cave is known locally as Birdgiddie Cave. In the JU text for Birdgiddie we have, "A 3m drop to a descending slope leads to a second entrance. Incomplete survey by BV Bailey (not shown)." Part of the entrance scramble includes a 3m drop (Kingman climbed down/up this, Stewart, et al, used a rope). We believe that the second entrance may well refer to the upper level passage described in the Raymonds entry.

Much searching, and questioning of the people in the district who were most familiar with the local caves, resulted in nothing other than Belmont Cave-1, this site, Richmond Park Cave to the north, Beardyman Cave, and two unlisted sites - a large collapse feature that may have a shaft at the bottom, and a shelter cave. We did not positively locate Belmont Cave-2, although we suspect it is the shelter cave (description of Cave-2 in JU is "A shallow cave contains guano deposits", and the locals talked of having taken guano from it.)

The Birdgiddie entry is from the GSD in 1954. The Raymonds entry is from the JCC in 1966. The former gives a depth of 15m and length of 300m, but the survey was incomplete, and depth/length may have been estimated. The latter gives a depth of 46m, and length of 155m, which most closely matches what we found.

At this time, we are forced to come to the conclusion that Birdgiddie and Raymonds are probably one and the same, although if further work by others finds differently, we would be happy to be corrected.

With that out of the way, we will move on to the assessment details:

The bat-roost in the cave is not as large as what could be supported by the available roosting space, with occupancy at about 50% or less. Total numbers appear to be on the order of several thousand, with Artibeus jamaicensis definitely present (evidenced by sprouting fruit), and at least one other smaller species. Roaches were not seen, but neither were many cave-adapted invertebrate species. That said, fungus gnats were present, so spiders should also be.

The cave is mined occasionally for guano, although not to the same extent as the nearby Belmont Cave-1, presumably because of the more difficult access. Accumulation is moderate.

Capture and release of bats will be best done with a mist-net. The entrance is about 7m wide, and is open at the top of the low cliff in which it is situated. This top opening might be able to be covered with a large tarp, forcing more of the bats into the mist-net area.

Physically, the cave consists of a moderately wide/high passage trending east/northeast, and steadily descending until a large breakdown chamber is reached at the bottom. No extensions were found.

The land external to the entrance seems to be owned by Jamalco, although we are not certain of this.

This is the most important cave roost in the Belmont area, and it is in need of protection. We have already stressed in our conversations with the local people that guano mining has a very negative impact on bat populations, but a sign at the entrance to the cave that also addresses it might be helpful.

The principal investigator for the JCO during the visit, Stewart, would like to thank Neville and Tess Blackstock, of the local community, who joined us for the exploration.

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