Sunday, June 1, 2014

Flamingo Spotting

Bonaire is a divers paradise. There are hundreds of marked dive sites all around the island. So I figured the first blog would be full of underwater photos. Turns out the island has great bird bird watching and an interesting rugged and dry interior. The northern 1/3  portion of the island is a park, the Washington-Slagbaai National Park. The place is filled with cactus and harsh rock formations. Except for the bird species, you would think you were somewhere in the southwestern deserts of the US.
bonaireIMG_5353 You need a truck or four-wheel drive to travel the park’s roads.  Maurice, from the boat Cattiva, rented this beauty of a Nissan. US$25 a day. No seat belts, no radio, the ignition key falls out on each bump. Once we got over the truck’s various sounds, it turned into a reliable pony.
bonaireIMG_5319The Bonaire brown-throated parakeets, locally called prikitchi, like to snack on the cactus blossoms. 
bnaireIMG_5322 On the windward side of the island they generate something like 40% of the island’s electricity needs via wind turbines.
bonaireIMG_5323  The windward side is a pretty rugged place.
bonaireIMG_5346 If you look close at the picture you can see a mooring ball in the center. Maybe sometime in the summer the winds back off enough to actually use it for diving. This time of year it would be a death sentence.
We asked one of the rangers the name of this lizard. He said it was “some other kinda lizard”.
bonaireIMG_5313 A medium sized iguana who had ejected his tail in some previous escape episode.
Maria, please don’t feed the iguanas!
Pre-historic monster enjoying a tasty piece of cucumber.
A Trupial (we think). It looks like a northern song bird, not a desert island inhabitant. This is a dry place. All the drinking water for humans comes from RO (reverse osmosis) plants.
Need fencing material? You grab what’s abundant – cactus.
boanireIMG_5511 A pretty bird. This is the endangered Yellow-Shouldered parrot, locally called a Lora. They’re poached  because they have good vocal skills and will imitate the human voice. They’re protected here on Bonaire, but apparently are still being taken even here. The park rangers have a hard time keeping people from raiding nests for the ├žaged bird trade’ and estimate that there are more in captivity on the island than in the wild.
Not every bird here thinks they need to dress up in garish colors. A Tropical mockingbird, or chuchubi, who has a pretty song.
You do have to watch for the attack lizards.
There are a lot of goats running free. These guys have no problem eating most of the cacti, including the Prickly Pear. Sometimes the Prickly Pear wins. This piece is sticking out of the poor goats neck.
bonaireIMG_5363But, not only goats get hooked up with a wayward Prickly Pear.
The other critter you see roaming around is the donkey. We spotted this pair is standing near the entrance of a high end housing development.
The donkeys even find things to munch on in the beach ruble.
The south end of the island has large salt drying ponds. The ponds turn reddish as they concentrate. On the right side of the photo are the mining trucks and salt mounds.
IbonaireMG_5479  Ever wonder where all that salt they put on the roads for a northern winter comes from?
These are some big trucks.
Down this end of the island they use windmills to move water into the drying ponds. How Dutch.
In the colonial times, the salt mining was done with government slave labor. These are small slave huts used to house the workers along the beach.
bonaireIMG_5488 Along the beach there are these colored obelisks. The different colors represented different grades of salt. Based on what was on the a ships manifest, the captain would know to anchor off the correct colored obelisk to pick up the grade of salt that they were transporting.
 bonaireIMG_5429 Now back to Flamingo spotting. These guys are practicing their coordinated marching.
Now, everybody’s getting air borne.
Old grump watching the flamingos.
Nature’s art.
We drove the trusty Nissan on a dirt road for mile or so to see these cave paintings. They are most likely night sky images made by a local pre-Colombian astronomer.
bonaireIMG_5499We did a stop at the Cadusky Distillery in the oldest town on the island, Rincon. They make cactus based liqueur. Chris and Marie testing the green stuff. Yum!
IboanireMG_5500 That’s the one and only still in the back ground.
The distillery was located on the site of an old movie theater. They had a number of these projectors just sitting around. Not rusty, but almost as good as seeing rusty stuff.


  1. Fabulous photos, especially of the flamingos. Kind of beats the ones we saw on Anegada, right? Or should we say, the ones we didn't really see but took photos of anyway hoping some speck of pink might appear after enlarging?

  2. Hi Paul & Chris
    Please say hi to Maria & Maurice from us!
    Those drawings look like my doodling on the notepad beside the phone, but I haven't been on Bonaire yet, except maybe in an earlier life, who knows ;-)
    Flemming & Hella

  3. Hey Dude,
    Great photos with superb commentaries
    MariA and Maurice, s/v Cattiva