Fall Bird migration in full swing

2019 Black-bellied Plover_300x
 This is one of the migratory birds we were looking for, a Black-bellied Plover with some of its breeding plumage still intact. What a beauty!
Black-bellied Plover – Zilverplevier – Lopi shinishi| Shut, Curacao
September 2 2019

The first swallows have been flying around on several locations on the island, and slowly but surely many other bird species are starting to arrive. The fall migration of birds, flying from the Northern hemisphere to the South, is in full swing, and we are on top of it to record as much as possible and to try to take as many pictures as possible. Especially of the species with their breeding plumage still on (even if it is just a little bit). So yesterday Rob (Curacao Backyard Birding)  and I visited the area of Shut, well know for a lot of things that have nothing to do with birdwatching. But what a birding treat it is.


2019 Semi-palmated plover breeding plumage_300x
Gorgeous semi-palmated plover. A small bird which can be found on the island almost year round. The birds don’t breed here (yet). Now there is the opportunity to spot them in particularly beautiful breeding plumage. Take a close look at the yellow ring around its eye, a clear sign that this bird has actively participated in the breeding season.
Oh and by the way, did you know these birds breed in Northern Canada and Alaska. Imagine this small (19 cm ) long bird flying all that distance to our shores.
Semi-palmated plover – Amerikaanse Bontbekplevier – Lopi semipalmado | Shut, Curacao
September 2 2019

The area of Shut is kind of the opposite of famous. In the not so distant past this was the area which served as the main garbage disposal location of the island. Basically, all garbage was dumped here and systematically dumped into the ocean, a common enough practice on many islands and countries in the world. At the end of the 80’s this practice stopped more or less, if we are talking about ‘legal’ dumping. The area is still used to dump all kinds of waste, including wastewater which still has little other place to brought to as most of the water treatment plants on the island are in disrepair and can not handle the ‘black water’ brought in. But that is another article. Besides waste water and garbage, the area is also used as a dumping place for dogs and cats, many of which are rescued by organisations working on education, foster care and adoption all over the world.


Especially the dumping of waste water, including all kinds of insects (think cockroaches and such), combined with an overflowing waste water pipe from the neighbourhood, created a macabre sort of wetland where many birds feel right at home. A surplus of food and good hiding spots in between the grass also make this a place where many migrating birds come to take a rest and replenish their fat reserves, especially water birds.

Besides the customary Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs this area is also good for spotting the Pectoral sandpiper, Solitary sandpipers, Least sandpipers, Semi-palmated sandpipers, Spotted sandpipers, Black-bellied plovers, Killdeers, Semi-palmated plovers, Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Black-necked stilts and many other water and terrestrial birds. It is though, a location where birding alone is not a good idea. And also a location where you have to take into account that the other visitors coming there do not appreciate ‘nosy’ observers with camera’s.

2019 Pectoral sandpiper_300x
Pectoral sandpiper – Gestreepte strandloper – Snepi strepi fini  Shut, Curacao, September 2 2019

For now, we will bring you this small photo update of the birds we spotted there this week. And we will keep you posted of the new records we collect there. This is the latest Ebird list: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59496663 of September 2 2019.


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