Bonaire Nature Tour
Part 2

Many of Bonaire's birds are
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I'd always thought these ridges were created by pounding waves from long ago, but Jerry says the were created in a much more complex way.

The eroded area, technically known as a solution notch, was formed not by waves but by algae and snails that lived in the ancient tidal zone. The algae produced an acidic juice that would dissolve the limestone.

In addition, snails that grazed on the algae also rasped away small bits of limestone, which in turn were carried away by the sea. Wave action was the least important part of the process.

As Jerry discusses how the topography was formed, he stops frequently to identify the birds flying over us or landing nearby. He has a spotting scope for everyone to look through to see the birds closeup.

For someone who's lived on the island for only a couple of years, Jerry has an amazing knowledge about what is going on around us, but guiding nature tours is just an extension of his 25 years as a high school science teacher in, of all places, Colorado.

From Ol Blue we travel by minibus first along the shoreline and then turn inland toward the city of Rincon . Just before Rincon we pass Goto Meer, an inland lake at the bottom of a steep hill.

Goto Meer not only is one of the best places on the island to see Bonaire's national bird, the pink flamingo, it is the most picturesque setting in which to photograph them.

The flamingoes often float and feed near the road, but they tend to "drift" away if someone opens a car door and gets out. Stopping, looking and staying inside does not seem to disturb the birds as much.

In another 10 minutes we are at the entrance of Bonaire 's premier birding area, the 135,000-acre Washington/Slagbaai National Park. As many as 200 species of birds, two types of parrots and two types of hummingbirds have been counted here.

The winter migratory season provides the greatest bird count; with Bonaire located only 50 miles from Venezuela and the coast of South America, the birds that show up here are real rarities.

  The national park, like most of the island, consists primarily of cactus and acacia bushes. The miles and miles of big Kadushi always remind me of Arizona and its giant saguaro cactus, and at any moment I expect to see the cavalry chasing Indians across the plains.

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