January 24 - 30, 2011
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)
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
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).
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.
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
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
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
17.) Black-crowned Night Heron. In the mangroves at Lac Cai 1 adult at dawn on
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
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
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
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.
36.) Greater Yellowlegs. About 14 birds in total. Seen daily with maximum 5 on one
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Martin Gottschling (Germany)