October Global Big Day 2020, Bonaire Style!

91 species logged on Bonaire in just 24 hours!

Posted October 22, 2020

Last Saturday, October Global Big Day, four of Bonaire’s most intrepid birders took to the roads, beaches, marshes, salt ponds, salinas, and fields, in order to catalog exactly what avian species are here right now.  Of course, Bonaire’s resident birds are always around, but currently, in the midst of the fall migration, we also have other species arriving either to stay the winter (the “snowbirds”) or to rest and relax a bit before heading further south to other over-wintering grounds.

About Global Big Day 2020.

Global Big Day is a semi-annual celebration of the birds around the world, held in May and October each year.  When birders around the world go out and count birds, and report them to eBird, then scientists have excellent data and can create a snapshot of what birds are where and when.  This helps them identify trends, or perhaps identify a species whose numbers are decreasing.  It’s an important birding event to practice citizen science and to get out and provide real-time data for scientists.

American Golden Plover

Sora

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Plover

Groove-billed Ani

Highlights illustrate some impressive statistics.

Bonaire’s four active birders on Global Big Day 2020 logged 31 total checklists indicating a total of 91 species covering 2352 individual birds.  These birders observed approximately 38% of the island’s recorded bird species (currently standing at 238 species) in just one day.

The majority of birders were out on the road before sunrise and kept birding all day until well after sunset.  They crisscrossed much of the island with the exception of Washington-Slagbaai National Park.

Bird of the day, the Black-throated Blue Warbler!

By far, the most exciting find of the day was the female Black-throated Blue Warbler, observed by local birder Steve Schnoll.  Not only was Steve able to find the bird, but he also got excellent images of it as well.

The female displays strikingly different plumage from the male.  Females are a plain brownish-olive with buffy underparts and a subtle face pattern. Steve reported that the small white patch on the wing was instrumental in his identification of the bird.

Here on Bonaire, it was observed in shrubby habitat, coincidentally in the same area as a Prothonotary Warbler (another very nice observation!) and several Blackpoll Warblers.  Bonaire is on the extreme southern border of the over-wintering grounds for the Black-throated Blue Warbler, so definitely it was an exciting find!

Other noteworthy observations on Global Big Day 2020.

Ospreys

In addition to the warblers, some other observations are noteworthy.  Although Bonaire has a small population of Ospreys which is resident on the island, during the winter months, that population grows.  It appears that many of the island’s arriving Ospreys got to the island just in time for Global Big Day.  Large numbers of Ospreys were reported, with one observation stating six in sight at one time, with four of those six actively hunting!

 

Belted Kingfishers

The Belted Kingfisher is another bird that migrates to over-winter on Bonaire.  In the days preceding Global Big Day, only two kingfishers were reported.  However, by the Big Day, the kingfishers had arrived and were very much present and accounted for!  Two birders reported finding four Belted Kingfishers in a very small area, which is certainly outside of the norm for their territories.

October Global Big Day 2020 was Bonaire’s best ever!

Finding 91 species was by far Bonaire’s top record for Global Big Days.  But now the gauntlet has been thrown….can Bonaire’s birders beat that record in May 2021 for the next Global Big Day event?  It will be a hard record to beat, but I’m sure Bonaire’s birders are up to it!

Images courtesy of Steve Schnoll of Reef Traveler.

About the author

Susan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a certified bird guide, a PADI SCUBA Diving Master Instructor,  and an underwater and topside photographer.

Susan Davis, the author.

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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