February 16 – Klein Curacao
The island of Klein Curacao, a small island of the east coast of the main island, has been a recurring source of joy for birdwatchers in the last couple of years, after starting to really monitor the variety and diversity of birds present here. It is now protected as a RAMSAR-site, because of nesting activity of several species of endangered sea turtles, it being an important breeding location for seabirds and an important stop-over location for migratory birds (although this part of the nomination did not have extensive supporting research results, besides some observations on breeding terns). The island is especially popular to tourists who spend a couple of hours on the island, with full catered tours by boat operators, many of which never realize the ecological importance of the island (more on that in later articles).
As of 2018 extensive monitoring of Klein Curacao by members of Bird Watching Curacao resulted in an increase of registered bird species on this particular island from around 20 to a whopping 101 species in 4 years’ time, making it part of the top 10 of birding hotspots on the island. Most of the migratory species stay on the small island for periods ranging from a day to a couple of weeks.
The latest new record (#101) for Klein Curacao was reported by Bird Watching Curacao birder Rob Wellens (known on social media as Curacao Backyard Birding) on the 16th of February 2022. A very unexpected Cocoi Heron. Not only a first for Klein Curacao but also a first for Curacao as a whole and also for neighboring islands Aruba and Bonaire.
This large heron can measure up to 130 cm in length and is a South American bird that is native to e.g. Suriname, Brazil, and Venezuela.
Even though the ABC-islands have a close proximity to South America, this species was never spotted before. The Great blue heron however is a regular occurrence on the islands.
ENGLISH: Cocoi Heron
SCIENTIFIC: Ardea cocoi