This week Frank and I pretended we were ornithologists, which we are definitely not. We participated in the Echo Bonaire annual count of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot.
Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot – photo from Echo website.
Due to heavy trapping of these birds and poaching of nests for the pet trade, as well as diminishing habitats, these parrots are classified as vulnerable on the endangered species list.
Called Loras here on Bonaire, this parrot has become extinct on Aruba and their status on Curacao is undocumented. So each January the Echo Bonaire team organizes volunteers and on one Saturday morning a count of Loras on Bonaire is undertaken.
Our roost is the rocky hillside in the left third of this picture.
Thursday our neighbors, Barb and Chuck of Tusen Takk II, helped me scout out the spot Frank and I were assigned for the count. Pre-spotting was well advised as our observation perch was on a rocky outcrop and access was best found in daylight the first time.
Saturday morning we departed LIB just before 5 am and were dropped near our site by 5:35. With flashlight, deck chairs and note taking papers in hand, Frank and I ducked thistles and dodged cacti until we reached our rocky outcropping. By 5:50 we were at our assigned point and waiting patiently for the Loras to awaken and take flight so we could count the those in our designated roost. Simultaneously about 50 other volunteers waited in additional observation spots throughout Bonaire.
The inky darkness dissipated gradually as the sun awakened and cast a bit of light on the south facing hillside we were assigned. By 7 am we had seen not a single parrot but we agreed that even without the Loras, this was a unique and pretty way to share the dawn.
Our site in the soft light of dawn.
The notes we received about our site stated that last year only two parrots were seen at the roost and we thought this year was a bust. But a little after 7 am we began spotting Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrots flitting up from the scrubby brush and alighting on the cacti.
The total count from our roost was 12; a significant increase from last year! We also had several groups of Loras land on the brush behind us and fly through the valley where our roost was located. It was fun to watch them flutter from place to place.
Many of the volunteers for the parrot count.
Volunteers gathered around 8:45 that morning to turn in their official drawings and bird counts. The news was good for this years’ parrot count. Last year a total of slightly over 700 Loras was made, but this year the number jumped to 1021 sightings.
Good news for the Yellow-shouldered Amazon of Bonaire! And fun spotting for the volunteers.
The Echo folks did a good job or organizing and communicating with the volunteers. The only hiccup was that the transportation they arranged for us fell apart.
Chillin’ in the truck bed post bird count.
Luckily, Barb and Chuck came to our rescue. Their truck seats were accounted for, but they let Frank and I throw our chairs in the back and they took us on a scenic trip back to the anchorage.
Tusen Takk II are awesome neighbors and we are lucky to be moored next to them! Thank you Barb and Chuck for telling us about this volunteer opportunity and making our participation possible!
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