October Big Day 2021 saw 75 species on Bonaire in 12 hours.

Migratory birds were in abundance.

Posted October 19, 2021

October Big Day offered the opportunity to learn to respect nature.

​Twice each year, in May and October, birders around the world get out and count birds to provide data to scientists about what birds are where and when. Several of Bonaire’s birders got out on October 9th–this year’s October Big Day–to see how many species they could find in one day.

Bonaire did quite well, topping off at 75 species in about 12 hours. Many of the species observed were migratory birds, which will help ornithologists keep track of migration routes and trends.

But unfortunately, all was not perfect. In this image of an Osprey with a catch, one would think it ate well that day.

An Osprey with a catch on Bonaire's southern coast.
An Osprey with a catch on Bonaire's southern coast.

 But the reality was quite different and illustrates how human actions, even those which are unintentional, can affect our feathered friends.

We were observing this wonderful Osprey from our vehicle parked at the side of the road at a southern dive site. We didn’t see the Osprey make the catch, but we saw it precariously perched on the top of a rock protruding from the surface in the surf zone. It was literally on a little island, water all around. The parrotfish was heavy…..very possibly heavier than the Osprey!

As we watched from a respectful distance, we saw this Osprey trying to lift off to get its catch to a better location where it could eat in peace. It was having a difficult time trying to take off vertically, just like a helicopter. Even with its huge, powerful wings, it couldn’t quite get enough lift to get airborne with its heavy catch. It tried four times, and four times resettled back down on the rock. It rested in between attempts, clearly tired with the huge effort and with its energy draining away.

An Osprey with a catch on Bonaire's southern coast.
An Osprey with a catch on Bonaire's southern coast.
An Osprey with a catch on Bonaire's southern coast.

Then a car pulled up, drove onto the beach, and a human got out of the car, I do believe totally unaware of the Osprey just mere meters away. The Osprey, as any bird will do when confronted with a human violating its comfort zone, took off so quickly to get away, that it couldn’t secure its catch, and the fish fell back into the ocean.  The Osprey circled around and perched in a nearby tree to rest.

We hope it was able to catch another fish in the next round.

An Osprey with a catch on Bonaire's southern coast.

The moral of the story—be aware of your surroundings, be aware of all animals in your immediate vicinity, and keep a respectful distance!

About the author:

Susan is a certified bird guide, living on Bonaire, in the Dutch Caribbean.Susan has been living on Bonaire for over 30 years. She is a certified bird guide, as well as a topside and underwater photographer. She is a 2016 graduate of the Caribbean Birding Trail Interpretive Guide Course conducted by BirdsCaribbean.

Reach out to Susan

Contact Susan via email, Facebook Messenger, give Susan a call, or simply use the online form below.

If you have any questions in regard to your birding tour on Bonaire, feel free to contact Susan to get answers.  She is always happy to elaborate on routes or best times for a tour based upon your own personal preferences.  Tours can be tailored to your own interests, whether that be birds, photography, or both!

It is also recommended that you do some homework about Bonaire's birds before you visit.  By knowing a little bit about the birds which might be encountered on tour, your enjoyment will be heightened!  Be sure to check out these resources for Bonaire Birding. Reading the Bonaire Bird Blog will also accustom you to the birds that habitually are encountered on Bonaire.

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