January 24 - 30, 2011
Martin Gottschling


On the way to a three-weeks-birding trip to Ecuador the plane makes a scheduled

stopover on the Caribbean island Bonaire. Therefore I decided to stay for one week

on Bonaire for birding and snorkeling. This was the right decision because Bonaire

offers a wide range of great birds in superb landscape and is one of the best

snorkeling and diving destinations in the world. I didn’t find many trip reports for

Bonaire; the published ones on travellingbirder were quite helpfulfor me. Furthermore

I got in contact with Jeff and Allison Wells at thia website and they offered me some very helpful information.

 

A car was prebooked from Germany at AB Carrental, Kralendijk via the Internet. It

was a Landwind Xpedition (Class 12) which was very useful when driving the partially

bad roads in the National Park and to the mangroves at Lac Cai. With a normal car

you would have no chance to get to all the good birding places, therefore it is highly

recommended to use an off-road car type for your explorations on the island.

At the tourist information in Kralendijk I got information about available

accommodation and I chose Hotel Rochaline in Kralendijk (rate 60 $ (+ 5,50 $ Tax)

per night).

 

Now exploring the island could start. During the week I visited nearly all places for

more than one time. 1.) Kralendijk itself holds lots of birds. 2.) From Kralendijk take the

road to the north and via Rincon you get to Dos Pos, Gotomeer and Washington

Slagbaai National Park. 3.) South of Kralendijk are the wetlands around the airport,

the mangroves at Lac Cai, the Salinas and the Pekelmeer.

 

Some information for an additional place, “Dienst L.V.V.” – Sewage Works, Antriol,

which was found more or less accidental are given here. Antriol is located in the

north-east of Kralendijk. Take the road which takes you from Kralendijk to the Lagun

(east coast, in Kralendijk there’s a sign “Lagoon” you can’t miss). After passing the

last houses some open areas follow and soon you’ll see a big sign on the right side of

the road “Dienst L.V.V.”. Here you have to go to the right and immediately you are in

the good area. Please note: this is a private area; therefore you should find

somebody who is living or working there and kindly ask him for permission to have a

short look over the wetlands to look for birds. During my visits this was not a problem.

Furthermore you are looking most of the time from the car because the birds are

often so close. Just after entering the road you have a quite deep pond on the right

further away from the road and a larger wetland area to the left just next to the road

behind some walls. When passing the farmers buildings you continue the track and

come to a deep pond with lots of dead trees and to the sewage works. This area is

like similar places everywhere in the world, where there’s the dirtiest, smelliest and

ugliest place there are the best birds! Lots of shallow water edged with low reed

attracts different species of waders, rails and songbirds.

 

Finally I saw 77 species of birds in one week which was very successful. Highlights next

to the Caribbean near endemics and the hummingbirds were an immature Red-footed

Booby, a 1st winter Purple Gallinule, at least nine Soras and three Stilt

Sandpipers. I failed to find any Snowy Plover and Brown Booby, both I expected to

see sooner or later. One real miss was Black-whiskered Vireo but it was not possible to

visit all the good sites for this species in the National Park because some of the roads

in the park were closed, therefore the chances to find this species were limited.

 

Other species as Crested Bobwhite, Barn Owl, and Grasshopper Sparrow are very rare

or it was not possible to get any recent information where to find them and the time

was limited to explore more on my own.

 

The birding was superb and the chances for bird photography were excellent. Many

birds were quite tame and it was possible to get quite good pictures of many

species. Therefore I can recommend a birding, bird photography and snorkeling trip

to Bonaire!

 

The snorkeling was excellent, and with little effort it was possible to get views of many

exciting fish species, cephalopods, and nice corals. I snorkeled at the following sites:

Tori’s Reef; Pink Beach; Andrea I; Andrea II; Red Beryl; Windsock; Kralendijk (harbor

area in front of Dive Center); Klein Bonaire (north side drift snorkel).

 

Birdlist

01.) Blue-winged Teal. Seen at nearly all ponds during the week. Maximum was 25 in

the wetlands near the airport and 22 at L.V.V. Sewage Works.

02.) White-cheeked Pintail. Seen almost daily at various sites all over the island.

Maximum of 10 birds and 6 fledglings at L.V.V. Sewage Works.

03.) Least Grebe. At L.V.V. Sewage works two pairs (one adult on the nest) and one

not fully grown juvenile. Calls similar to Little Grebe heard at Dos Pos.

04.) Pied-billed Grebe. Two birds in breeding plumage were seen. One on the lake

about 3 km in front of the NP entrance and one bird on the deeper pond at L.V.V.

Sewage Works.

05.) Red-footed Booby. On 25.01. a younger immature (1st or 2nd winter) was flying

over the southern part of Pekelmeer at 06:15 pm to the east and crossed me just 20

meters above my head.

06.) Brown Pelican. Only five different birds were seen. Up to three (1 adult, 2

juveniles) were sitting every day on a wall near the “salt mountains” in the western

Pekelmeer.

07.) Neotropic Cormorant. On 24., 25. & 27.01. the same older immature bird roosting

on a pier or on rocks in south-western Gotomeer.

08.) Magnificent Frigatebird. Seen daily but less numerous than expected. In total 17

birds were noticed, maximum 3 together hunting for discard at a fisherman’s boat in

front of Kralendijk.

09.) Great Blue Heron. Seen regular in the southern part along the mangroves and

the Pekelmeer with the maximum of 6 birds.

10.) Great Egret. Seen regular in the southern part along the mangroves and the

Pekelmeer with the maximum of 5 birds.

11.) Snowy Egret. A feeding party of 30 birds on a canal near the airport wetlands on

24.01., another 3 the next day in the mangroves at Lac Cai and a single bird on the

lake 3 km before the NP entrance on 27.01.

12.) Little Blue Heron. Seen in the wetlands near the airport, at L.V.V. Sewage Works

and in the Pekelmeer, in total 7 birds, except one all were more or less white 1st year

birds.

13.) Tricoloured Heron. A total of 17 birds was seen, all except one at Gotomeer were

in the south.

14.) Reddish Egret. Common in the South (Pekelmeer, Mangroves, Salinas) with

maximum of 9 seen on 28.01. Mostly red birds were encountered, but on 26.01. a red

bird with white tertials was at Sorobon and on 25. & 29.01. a white plumaged bird

was seen in the same location in the north-western Salinas.

15.) Cattle Egret. One bird in non-breeding plumage was flying over L.V.V. Sewage

Works on 29.01.

16.) Green Heron. Seen daily. Recorded mostly in the south and at L.V.V. Sewage

Works.

17.) Black-crowned Night Heron. In the mangroves at Lac Cai 1 adult at dawn on

26th.

18.) Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Proved to be more difficult than expected. Finally

successful in the mangroves at Lac Cai on 28.01. in the evening when it was nearly

dark. An adult bird was sitting in a canal just ten meters next to the road and allowed

great pictures with flashlight. On the way back to Kralendijk an adult Night Heron

sitting on the main road but flew off immediately was very probably this species, too.

19.) Greater Flamingo. (ssp. ruber) Seen daily, mostly in the South but also smaller

flocks at Gotomeer and in the NP. Maximum of over 300 birds in the south.

20.) Osprey. Seen nearly daily but only in the area south of Kralendijk at Pekelmeer

and Salinas. One very confiding individual was often perched just 10 meters next to

the road on the west side of Pekelmeer.

21.) Crested Caracara. Four observations of 4 single birds. 25.01. over the scrub on

the way to Lac Cai. 27.01. east of NP entrance. 28.01. seen perched on the way to

Lac Cai. 29.01. in the NP.

22.) Merlin. Seen on five occasions with a total of 4-5 individuals. 25.01. Lac Cai & SE

Pekelmeer (2); 26.01. Mangroves Lac Cai (1); 27.01. Gotomeer (1); 28.01. Lac Cai,

Pekelmeer (1); 29.01. L.V.V. Sewage Works (1)

23.) Peregrine Falcon. One adult bird was circling some time above the mangroves at Lac

Cai on 25.01.

24.) Sora. My first Sora was found in the evening of 27.01. at Dos Pos. On 28. & 29.01.

at least 8 birds were seen at L.V.V. Sewage Works. Very probable much more

individuals were hidden in this superb roosting habitat for rails. Some of the birds were

very approachable with the car down to five meters and allowed fantastic pictures.

25.) Purple Gallinule. An unexpected and big surprise was the found of a 1st year bird

perched in the open next to an Iguana at L.V.V. Sewage Works on 28.01. Probably

the same bird was flushed on 29.01. in nearly the same area where it was seen the

day before.

26.) Common Moorhen. Only seen at L.V.V. Sewage Works on 28. & 29.01. with 4

adult, 2 1st years and 1 fledgling.

27.) Caribbean Coot. Seen at the wetlands around the airport, also at L.V.V. Sewage

works. At the lake about 3 km before the NP entrance the maximum of 14 birds was

noticed.

28.) Black-bellied (= Grey) Plover. In the mangroves at Lac Cai 3 birds on 26th.

29.) Wilson’s Plover. On 28.01. an intensive search along the west coast in the South

was successful at Punt Vierkant: a beautiful male joined a flock of 37 Semipalmated

Plovers.

30.) Semipalmated Plover. Only seen in the south at Pekelmeer, the Salinas and on

the shore. Biggest flock were 37, which were joined by a single Wilson’s Plover.

31.) Killdeer. While exploring the scrub east of the NP entrance, I found a probable

temporary lake between the windmills and the coast. One bird was present there

along other waders.

32.) American Oystercatcher. Three observations, mostly along the rocky coasts:

Pekelmeer (2), Sorobon (4), rocky coast east of NP (1)

33.) Black-necked Stilt. Seen in the wetland near the airport (20) and at L.V.V.

Sewage Works (17).

34.) Spotted Sandpiper. A total of 8 birds were seen spread all over the island.

35.) Solitary Sandpiper. On 28.01. two and on 29.01. three confiding birds at L.V.V.

Sewage Works.

36.) Greater Yellowlegs. About 14 birds in total. Seen daily with maximum 5 on one

day.

37.) Lesser Yellowlegs. About 40 birds in total. Maximum 24 at L.V.V. Sewage Works. In

total 20 unidentified Yellowlegs were seen well hidden in the mangroves at Lac Cai

and at the temporary pond east of the NP entrance.

38.) Whimbrel. One injured bird on 26.01. very early at dawn in the

mangroves at Lac Cai.

39.) Ruddy Turnstone. Regular seen along the coast mostly in the south, biggest flock

was a group of 25 birds. In Kralendijk common along the harbor, where up to 20

were begging for French Fries.

40.) Sanderling. On 26.01. two birds at Sorobon and 28.01. one bird on a shore in the

south.

41.) Semipalmated Sandpiper. Seen only in the south at Pekelmeer and the Salinas

with a total of 54 birds, highest count was 40.

42.) Western Sandpiper. On 26.01. one bird among other stints at Pekelmeer / Salinas.

43.) Least Sandpiper. About 70 birds were seen all over the island, highest counts with

25 and 39 in the south at Pekelmeer.

44.) Stilt Sandpiper. On 26.01. three birds together in the Pekelmeer were quite

approachable.

45.) Short-billed Dowitcher. One bird in winter plumage was seen on 28. & 29.01. at

L.V.V. Sewage Works.

46.) Wilson’s Snipe. On 28. & 29.01. a maximum of 6 different birds was noticed at

L.V.V. Sewage Works, but very probably more birds were involved and more were

hidden in the vegetation.

47.) Laughing Gull. In the evening of 26.01. one roosting adult on a pier at Kralendijk

harbor.

48.) Royal Tern. Seen daily along the coast. The maximum were 19 roosting at

Sorobon on 26.01., three of them wearing a metal ring.

49.) Rock Dove. Seen only around habitation, mostly at Kralendijk and a few at

Rincon.

50.) Scaly-naped Pigeon. Seen nearly daily in all regions of the island, a total of 12

birds were noticed.

51.) Bare-eyed Pigeon. common

52.) Eared Dove. common

53.) Common Ground-Dove. Common. Seen also on Klein Bonaire.

54.) White-tipped Dove. common

55.) Brown-throated Parakeet. common

56.) Yellow-shouldered Parrot. This species was seen almost every day. A single bird in

Kralendijk on 25.01., 21 birds were feeding at Papa Corness School in Kralendijk also

on 25.01. Most reliable area for observations was when driving from Kralendijk to

Rincon in the morning. Highest counts here were 15 on 25.01. and 28 on 29.01. Also

seen in Rincon and Gotomeer.

57.) Yellow-billed Cuckoo. On 25.01. one bird close to the coast near SW-Gotomeer.

58.) Groove-billed Ani. One bird seen very well 3 km before the NP entrance. On 28.

& 29.01. four birds at L.V.V. Sewage Works.

59.) White-tailed Nightjar. On the well known place, the lower part of the unpaved

road to the radar station above Rincon, a male and a female were seen on 27.01.

60.) Ruby-topaz Hummingbird. Two males chasing each other found less than five

minutes after having enjoyed the male Blue-tailed Emerald near the NP entrance on

25.01.

61.) Blue-tailed Emerald. On 25.01. one beautiful male near the NP entrance and a

female sitting for a short moment on a fence at L.V.V. Sewage Works on 28.01.

62.) Belted Kingfisher. Up to 3 birds in the Mangroves at Lac Cai and a single in the

wetlands near the airport.

63.) Caribbean Elaenia. This species proved to be the most difficult one of the four

flycatchers. Finally found in the NP at Put Bronswinkel on 29. & 30.01. with two

different birds. One reacted well to playback but was most of the time hidden by

leaves. The other bird found foraging in leaved branches was seen very well.

64.) Northern Scrub-Flycatcher. Seven birds in total were noticed at the following

sites: National Park, Gotomeer & L.V.V. Sewage Works.

65.) Brown-crested Flycatcher. Maximum of six birds in the NP on 29.01. Seen also

around Gotomeer and at L.V.V. Sewage Works.

66.) Gray Kingbird. Seen daily in all regions of the island.

67.) Tropical Mockingbird. common

68.) Pearly-eyed Thrasher. One seen flying along the road south of Rincon, two birds

were building a nest and/or feeding their young at Dos Pos and allowed great

pictures.

69.) Yellow Warbler. Common - especially in the north and in the mangroves. Only

males with a chestnut crown patch were observed.

70.) Northern Waterthrush. Six birds in total at various sites were observed: Mangroves

Lac Cai, Dos Pos, National Park and L.V.V. Sewage Works.

71.) Bananaquit. common

72.) Black-faced Grassquit. Seen nearly daily mostly in the northern part of the island

but also a male and a female in Kralendijk opposite Divi Flamingo.

73.) Saffron Finch. Seen more often than expected: 25.01. two confiding males at Divi

Flamingo in Kralendijk, later that day 10 immature male and female-type birds at

Papa Corness School in Kralendijk; 26.01. two males found feeding in the center of

Kralendijk; 29.01. two males at L.V.V. Sewage Works; 30.01. one male in the center of

Rincon.

74.) Carib Grackle. Quite common in Kralendijk. Regular in the morning passing flocks

in Kralendijk, maybe from a communal night roost. Common in the airport region.

Outside Kralendijk seen on two occasions: 1 male, 1 female at Bopec, west of

Gotomeer and one male in Rincon.

75.) Troupial. Seen daily but nowhere abundant. Only single birds or groups of up to

three were seen in nearly all habitats of the island.

76.) Yellow Oriole. Less common than previous species. 27.01. a pair at Gotomeer;

29.01. one bird in Rincon and one in Kralendijk.

77.) House Sparrow. Common around habitation, especially in Kralendijk and Rincon.

 

Other wildlife

 Some unidentifiable Bats at the nightjar site

A dead House Rat in Kralendijk.

Green Iguana. Common

Ruthven’s Anole. Single

Bonaire Island Whiptail Lizard. Abundant

Unidentified small black & white Lizard. One

Two species of tiny Geckos found near the entrance of the NP, one each of the

species.

 

Martin Gottschling (Germany)