23-30 March 2003

Steve Mlodinow

 

My wife and I spent 5 lovely days birding in Aruba at the end of March 2003. Below are some observations, comments, and suggestions.

For navigating about Aruba, I highly recommend the Berndston and Berndston map (www.mapmyway.com). The Birds of the Netherlands Antilles (Voous 1983) provides interesting status-and-distribution information, but the plates are somewhat antiquated. Also, this book is out-of-print and difficult to obtain. Hilty's (2003) Birds of Venezuela is an excellent resource regarding possible vagrants from South America.

Dollars are accepted everywhere, and seemingly every soul speaks English. We stayed at the lovely Bucuti Beach Resort at Eagle Beach (www.bucuti.com). The employees there seemed to live to make our lives cozy and pleasant. Also, being a small property, coming and going was easy. As an added attraction, it had a lovely beach, and the grounds served as a roost for Carib Grackles and Shiny Cowbirds. Iguanas prowled the grounds incessantly, engaging in entertaining head-bobbing and wattle-shaking battles. Just down the street was Dushi's Bagels, which opened at 6am (Mon-Sat) or 7am (Sun), providing delightful bagel-and-lox breakfasts early enough to get to most birding spots near sunrise. The sun was up from about 6:45 to 6:45, and no birding location was more than 30 minutes drive away. Aruba's moniker is “One Friendly Island,” and that seemed utterly true. We usually felt most welcome and always felt safe. The lack of endemics or a substantial list may make Aruba seem like an unlikely birding destination, but if you want to take the family to a great vacation spot and get in some fun and interesting birding, I highly recommend this island. I owe many thanks to Eddie Massiah for encouraging me to give Aruba a try.