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April 29

Sam Williams, PhD | Apr 29, 2006


To help us record as many breeding attempts as possible we asked a former poacher Buchy Frans if he’d show us some nests. I met Buchy on my last visit and kept in touch with him as I knew he had a wealth of information on the parrots. Buchy is a remarkable Bonairian. He’s 76, though probably fitter than most over 50s on the island. He’s sailed around the world several times, speaks five or more languages and he knows the island like the back of his hand. He had us driving down tiny donkey tracks and we’d stop in a seemingly featureless bit of habitat, whereupon he’d walk 100 meters or so right up to an old parrot nest. Sadly as Buchy says “the new poachers are stupid, they cut holes in the trees with chainsaws to take the babies and the loras won’t come back”. In fact every tree nest Buchy showed us or that we have found ourselves has a chainsaw hole in it! 

This week Andrew Beckerman our supervisor came out on his first visit to Bonaire. It’s important for Andrew to see the lay of the land where both Rowan and I are working as then he can appreciate the problems we come across, before going on to tell us to just do it anyway! We had a lot of fun going out, seeing the parrots and discussing how we can collect the information we need in order to answer the questions we have. For example one of my interests is to determine what kind of habitat the parrots prefer, and whether they face competition in those areas. So I need to assess the habitat in the areas where the parrots are, but also in the areas they are not.

With Andrew’s help we made a plan for me to look at the areas we know the parrots go to feed, nest and roost and in addition I will be looking at randomly selected areas to investigate what is missing from those areas. I’ll be visiting each site (and there are nearly 50!) every two weeks to see what the plants are doing, such as, whether they are fruiting or if they have seeds.

Whilst I’m at each quadrant looking at the plants I’ll also be doing a 15 minute bird survey. This is to get an idea of what is where and when I compare that to the habitat information it may be possible to pick up on patterns. In particular I’m interested in 4 birds: the amazon, the endemic sub species of brown throated (St Thomas) conure (Aratinga pertinax xanthogenius), the Pearly eyed thrasher and the introduced troupial. I’ll be noting all the other birds and animals I see too but that means I’m going to need to brush up on the names of all the little birds in the next week or so!