Pick-up at the airport and transfer to your hotel in the central part of the Netherlands. Depending on your arrival time, we can go birding in a grassland area close to the hotel. Possible birds include Eurasian Spoonbill, White stork, Little Owl, Kingfisher and Purple Heron.
Overnight in a hotel in Zuid-Holland.
We drive to the town of Den Helder where we will take the ferry to the island of Texel, in the north western corner of the Netherlands. Depending on the season our focus will be on ducks and geese (winter), migrant birds (spring and fall), or songbirds and waders (summer). Target birds for today will be Pale-bellied Brant, Common Eider, Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Golden Plover, Common Redstart, Firecrest, Red Crossbill and possibly rare birds like Waxwing or Yellow-browed Warbler.
The island of Texel is the largest and most western of the Dutch Wadden Isles. It is the only island which has a regular ferry service to the mainland, with at least one boat every hour. Nowhere else in the country have more birds been found that are new for the Dutch list than on the island of Texel.
Because of its geographic location, the island is a migrant and rarity hotspot, and we will do our best to find some unexpected birds ourself!
In the afternoon we will take the ferry back to the mainland and drive to the north eastern part of the country, stopping at sites along the way.
Overnight in a hotel in Groningen.
A short drive will bring us to one of the best birding areas in the country on the border of the provinces of Friesland and Groningen. This area is good any time of the year and we will focus on the birds that are present at the time. Birds to look for in this area are Ruff (there are several leks here), Wood Sandpiper, Golden Oriole, phalaropes, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Red-breasted Goose, Twite, Curlew Sandpiper and Great Bittern.
The area, Lauwersmeer, used to have an open connection to the sea untill not too long ago. After the disaster floods of 1953 in Zeeland the government decided not to make the existing dikes any higher, but to build a completely new, 8 mile long dam across the inlet, which meant the end of the open connection to the sea. By doing this a magnificent nature reserve was lost, but a new, completely different reserve was created. The new area is home to great numbers of birds, and will be one of the highlights of the trip.
In the afternoon we will drive south towards our next destination in the extreme south east of the country.
Overnight in a hotel in Gelderland.
A visit to the southernmost province of the Netherlands, Limburg, will bring us some birds that are only possible here. We will focus on forest birds, with Wryneck, Nightjar, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Firecrest as some of today’s target birds.
Limburg is somewhat different in geography from the rest of the country. It is the only place where there are hills, which have some birds that are not present in other parts of the country. The target bird for today (and for many for the entire trip) is Eurasian Eagle Owl! The world’s second largest owl has a roost in the extreme south of the country. Although it is difficult to see anywhere in the world, we may be fortunate enough to see up to 5 individuals of this species, even in broad daylight.
Other key species for today are Fieldfare, Red-backed Shrike, Common Crane, Treecreeper and Short-toed Treecreeper, Yellowhammer, European Serin and in some years Melodious Warbler.
We will drive back to the central part of the Netherlands to be close to the sites we will visit tomorrow morning.
Overnight in a hotel in Zuid-Holland.
An early start takes us to the province of Zeeland in the south-western corner of the country. Today’s focus will be on waders and waterbirds, with possible highlights like Wood Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Ringed Plover and Little Plover, Dunlin and Pied Avocet.
The province of Zeeland was severely hit by the 1953 disaster floods and has undergone serious changes since then. The Delta Project, a series of projects that have created several dams and dikes, not only made this part of the country safe from floods, it also created several new habitats for animals.
Before the Delta Project was put into effect, most water was salt water with a direct connection to the North Sea. Today salt water only remains at the coast itself and partly in the only connection Antwerp has to the Sea, the Westerschelde. Most other parts are either fresh water or brackish water and birds have found their way in this diverse eco system.
The birds that are present vary enormously with the seasons. Zeeland is the warmest part of the country in winter and because of this geese abound on the grassland: Greater and Lesser White-fronted Goose, Black Brant, White-bellied Brant, Barnacle, Brent, and Greylag Goose and the very rare Red-breasted Goose.
Since most of the water doesn’t freeze over, ducks like Long-tailed Duck, Pintail, Shoveler, Mallard, Goldeneye, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, Eurasian Teal and Scaup are often present in the relative warm water here.
Other waterbirds to look out for in winter are up to five species of grebes, three species of loons and six species of gulls.
In spring and summer some of these species will have left, but usually we are able to find a lot of these winter birds that stay during the summer, supplemented with new breeding birds and some migrants.
Birds to look for in summer include Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Great and Blue Tit, Gargeney, Little Tern, Turtle Dove, Yellow Wagtail and Blackcap.
At the end of the day we drive back to our hotel.
Depending on your departure time we will have the opportunity to go birding close the hotel, visiting sites where birds like Little Owl, Purple Heron, Mediterranean Gull, Icterine Warbler, Tree Sparrow, Kingfisher and White Stork are regular birds.
If you have a flight leaving from Amsterdam we will drop you off at the airport. If you have an extended stay in the country, we can also take you to your hotel.