John van der Woude
|We have been to Curacao
several times in the '90-s, and always did some birding
there besides visiting our relatives. Compared to nearby
Venezuela, Curacao is not so rich in bird species.
However, for whatever reason you are there, you will have
nice birding as well, with several very typical species.
This short report gives some sites for that, but is far
|Northern part of
Christoffel National Park, with Christoffel mountain (300
m, highest point of the island) on the background.
Voous (Birds of the Netherlands Antilles) points out,
most of the species occur in most of the habitats. So
already in the gardens of Willemstad and
definitely so in the green quarter called Zuikertuintje/Rooi
Catochi (where we lodged), we saw several of the species
of Curacao: Magnificent Frigatebird (from the nearby
Schottegat Bay), Cattle Egret, Crested Caracara, Bare-eyed
Pigeon (photo right - the eyering is much more
conspicuous and blacker here than in Venezuela; there is
a large night roost at Rooi Catochi, with often a
Peregrine feeding on them), White-tipped Dove, Common
Ground Dove, Yellow-shouldered Parrot (escapes; more
recently, Orange-winged is reported), Caribbean Parakeet,
White-tailed Nightjar, Common Emerald (Chlorostilbon
mellisugus), Yellow Oriole, Troupial, Tropical
Mockingbird, Shiny Cowbird (a recent intruder, but
numbers vary over the years), Bananaquit, Rufous-collared
Sparrow, Black-faced Grassquit, Saffron Finch.
At the North side of Piscadera Bay (West of Willemstad) there is a nice mangrove forest and a marshy area around a water purification installation. To find this site, take the most western highway running North-South on the outskirts of Willemstad, and take the small road nearly opposite the Veeris road. Drive on to the Piscadera Bay, follow its northern edge up to a T-junction. To the left is mangrove forest, to the right the road ends at the installation with interesting ponds. Maybe it is safer to take the road that goes directly to the water purification plant from the highway at a point a bit further North than the point across the Veeris road. Species here included Pied-billed Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, American Coot, Common Gallinule, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Glossy Ibis, Least Grebe, White-cheeked Pintail, American Kestrel, Black-winged Stilt, Sanderling, Common Snipe, Greater and Lesser Yelllowlegs, Groove-billed Ani, House Sparrow, Northern Waterthrush, Eared Dove. Many of the birds listed for the gardens were here too, so this area would be one of the best of Curacao. This area would deserve protection, but I think there is none.
|Leaving Willemstad for
trips to the West of the island, you cross the Grote
Berg. Here we saw White-tailed Hawk a few times.
is well-known for its Greater Flamingos in the salt pans
(photo above). You can easily see them from the road 1 km
East of the village of St. Willibrordus. More birds can
be seen if you walk East along the salt pan area towards
the sea. There was a territory of Osprey, and one of
American Kestrel. We also noted a.o. Spotted and
Semipalmated Sandpiper, and a Belted Kingfisher. Also
Common Emerald, Grey Kingbird, Brown-crested Flycatcher,
San Juan is one of
those quiet scrubby hill areas with an entrance road to a
small bay/beach. It is located almost halfway the
southern road to Westpunt (West Point). There is a nice
lagoon too. Here we saw Spotted Sandpiper, Ruby-Topaz
Hummingbird, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Smooth Flycatcher,
Red-necked (Scaly-naped) Pigeon. Another area like San
Juan and near to it (but hard to find) is called Santa
Pretu Bay. Further species here were: Brown Booby, Brown
Pelican, Peregrine Falcon, Eared Dove, Grey Kingbird,
|A bit further to the West
than San Juan is Santa Marta Bay with nice
mangroves (Snowy Egret, waders).
In the Christoffel
National Park (along the northern road to Westpunt)
we valued especially the first 300 m of the track from
the parking lot at the foot of the Christoffel Mountain
to the top (photo above). Some water trickles here (not
always) through the bushes, with several Yellow Warbler.
Crested Caracara and White-tailed Hawk can often been
seen here. Crested Bobwhite breeds near the parking lot
|At Westpunt (the
West point of the island) we saw Barn Swallow hanging
around, and in the village is (was?) a famous feeding
place for numerous Troupials.
|Quite different from the
rest of Curacao is the barren North coast. One
area we visited here is San Pedro (West of the airport,
in the so-called Hato plain). Crested Bobwhite and Red-necked
Pigeons and several smaller birds were on the inland
cliff bordering the plain, just along the short and quiet
road to the San Pedro farm.
Another North coast area is Noordkant (straight to the North of Willemstad/Brievengat), where you come close to the trade-wind beaten shore with some bays. Great Blue Heron, American Oystercatcher, Ruddy Turnstone, American Kestrel. A similar area is West of the National Park, with Peregrine in Jan. 1998.
Photos above and below are from these areas at the North Coast.
observed by us in the nineties: