On Monday, June 23rd, my wife and I flew from Pittsburgh to Aruba for our honeymoon. Everyone who knows my wife is aware that she is not a birder and will only tolerate a certain amount of birding – a fine line I’ve been walking since I started birding five years ago! The trip was definitely not a hardcore birding trip, but I managed to squeeze a few hours here and there during our week long stay at the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort.
We arrived in Aruba around 3:00 in the afternoon. As we were coming in to land, I spotted my first lifer of the trip – Magnificent Frigatebird, my favorite bird of the trip and one I would see many more times. Roads in Aruba are poorly signed, so after making a few wrong turns, running a red light, and ticking a few drivers off, we finally made it to the resort around 5:00. I didn’t too to much birding the night of the 23rd, but the view of the Carribbean Sea was excellent from our balcony.
The next day, I woke up early and birded the resort and Eagle Beach (eBird Checklist). From the balcony, I heard my lifer Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, saw a number of Bare-eyed Pigeons and Carib Grackles, and picked up my lifer Tropical Mockingbird and Shiny Cowbird!
After eating a tasty breakfast at the resort, we worked towards the California Lighthouse. Our first stop was the Bubali Bird Sanctuary (eBird Checklist), which seems to be one of the best birding locations on the island. We spent about an hour at the observation tower scanning the water and surrounding vegetation. Highlights include White-cheeked Pintail, Carribbean Coot, Brown-throated Parakeet, Barn Swallow, and good looks at Bananaquit. We ended up seeing Bananaquits all over the island.
After Bubali, we made a quick 15 minute stop at the Aruba Salina (eBird Checklist). The most numerous bird here was Black-necked Stilt – 17 total. Other shorebirds include Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Killdeer, and Ruddy Turnstone.
Our next stop was the California Lighthouse (eBird Checklist) – one of a few tourist attractions on the island. Here was had excellent looks at Crested Caracaras, Eared Doves, and a couple Venezuelan Troupials.
We spent the rest of the 24th relaxing on the beach, watching Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Pelicans work the coast for fresh food. That’s a wrap for Birding Aruba – Part 1. Be on the lookout for Part 2!