Dennis and Sarah had visited the Netherlands before, but in order to see as many as possible of the bird species they had not seen before as possible, they decided to hire a birding guide from the Netherlands to help them with this.
While looking for information on birding in Holland, Sarah came across www.birdingholland.com , a website for guided birding in the Netherlands and she decided to contact them well in advance to book the two tours she wanted to go on. Since all tours by Birding Holland are private tours, all Sarah had to do was ask for a specific date and tell which tours she wanted to take.
There was only one bird Dennis and Sarah really wanted to see: Bearded Tit, a species that had eluded them on previous visits to the Netherlands.
Even though Bearded Tit (also called Bearded Reedling) is rather difficult to see in July, we managed to get very good looks of a family, flying around in a reedbed on the Island of Texel.
The weather was mostly dry with a bit of rain on the first day and a lot of wind on the second day. The temperature ranged from 18º to 22º Centigrade (65 to 72 Fahrenheit).
During their stay in the Netherlands, Dennis and Sarah stayed in a hotel in the centre of Leiden and they were dropped off at their hotel on the island of Texel at the end of the second day.
All logistics were taken care of by Pieter, the owner and one of the guides of Birding Holland (www.birdingholland.com/aboutus). Dennis and Sarah were picked up at their hotel in Leiden the first day by Pieter. On their way south to the province of Zeeland they picked up Teus, the other guide for their tour. The second day Pieter picked them up at their hotel in Leiden again and they again met Teus, this time close to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
At the end of the second day Dennis and Sarah were brought to their hotel on the island of Texel, since they wanted to spend an extra day there after their birding tour.
Dennis and Sarah wanted to see a few of the sites of the famous Delta Works, which came into action after the disaster floods of 1953, so we visited some of these as well.
July isn't exactly the month that comes to mind when thinking of a great number of species that can be seen, but we managed to do well with an astonishing 109 species the first day and a total bird list of 122 species!
Tuesday, July 15th 2008
Pick up at the hotel in Leiden by Pieter, at 6.00 AM and a short drive to the town of Delft to pick up Teus, the second guide for the tour.
When we stop to buy some breakfast for Dennis and Sarah – the hotel kitchen wasn't open before they left – we start birding and kick off with two good species, a pair of Turtle Doves and a Green Woodpecker flying across the road.
Our first real birding stop is a small, newly formed wetland in the northern part of the province of Zeeland. On the shores and in the shallow waters there are waders like Common Redshank, Pied Avocet, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Eurasian Oystercatchers. Fortunately there is a lot more to see than just waders and after seeing ducks like Shovelers and Mallards, songbirds like White Wagtail and 6 species of gulls, including a Mediterranean Gull, we leave for the next site already having seen more than 50 species!
Teus had prepared this itinerary by visiting most of the sites in the previous weekend and he takes us to a giant tidal mudflat area where there are literally thousands of birds, all feeding or resting. It becomes apparent pretty quickly that we are going to see a lot of birds today: not only the expected waders and Eurasian Spoonbills are present, but we also see rare birds like Caspian Tern and a Ruddy Shelduck and uncommon birds like Little Tern. While overlooking the mudflat Golden Plovers and Common Terns fly by, all adding to our day list.
While driving to our next stop, Dennis sees a Marsh Harrier and since we are stopping to get a good look of the bird anyway, we have some coffee and enjoy one of the many Dutch specialities Pieter has brought, stroopwafels (a sort of caramel waffles). After finishing our coffee we move on to our next stop, a trail through a woodland area that leads to a hide overlooking large reed beds.
At this site a Cetti's Warbler has been present earlier this week, but when we try to find it, it appears to have left. The trail itself proves to be rather good, with birds like Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Short-toed Treecreeper, House Martin and best of all, a Kingfisher sitting out on a limb in plain view for minutes on end. The reed beds in front of the hide have some Eurasian Reed Warblers and Chiffchaffs and one of the mudflats has a family of Black-winged Stilt, again a rare bird in the Netherlands. On our walk back to the car Pieter spots a male Bullfinch flying by to the other side of the water, so we decide to cross the water and to try to find the bird. Unfortunately, the bird remains inside the woodland and is not to be seen. When walking back to the car the Cetti's Warbler suddenly bursts into a quick song; the bird hasn't disappeared after all.
Our route takes us across the Brouwersdam, one of the dams that was created as part of the Delta Works. The dam is a barrier between the North Sea on one side and the large Grevelingen Lake on the other side, preventing the sea from coming in during storms. The Brouwersdam is very good for birding in winter, but in summer there are fewer birds present, however we still manage to get good looks of Ruddy Turnstone, Mew Gull and Whimbrel. The lunch stop is just around the corner and before we get into the small restaurant to have lunch we take a quick look at the parking lot, finding Song Thrush, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and an Eurasian Sparrowhawk.
After lunch, on our way to a nature development area, we drive to the town of Ellemeet with our windows down. Pieter hears a call that he doesn't recognize so we decide to get out of the car and do some birding in this little town. A good decision, because when Pieter shows Dennis and Sarah a Robin and a singing European Greenfinch, Teus finds the bird that has been making the call, a young Icterine Warbler. These birds are not uncommon in the Netherlands, but they usually remain deep inside the foliage, so seeing it can be rather difficult. However, this young bird is constantly calling to its parents to be fed, so we are able to get good looks of both the young and two adult Icterine Warblers.
The nature development area is as always good for birds and we add Dunlin, Sanderling, Barnacle Goose and Sky Lark. An albino Egyptian Goose is somewhat confusing, especially because all birds suddenly take off in panic: an Osprey is flying overhead. Ospreys are rare birds in the Netherlands, only present during migration. This individual is the first one of the season to be seen; our luck doesn't seem to end!
A viewpoint overlooking some inland lakes and wetlands has Arctic Tern and Eurasian Wigeon present, bird 100 for the day! On our way back we stop at a site that is usually good for Eared Grebe, which we find, but we also get good looks of Little Grebe, Reed Bunting and Willow Warbler.
The last birding stop for the day is an area which holds a lot of Barnacle Geese, but we also manage to find the Greater White-fronted Goose that has been present here. While looking at a Greater Whitethroat we again see panic among the birds, but we fail to find a raptor that may have caused it. A quick re-check of the pylons in the area shows us why the birds got scared: an immature Peregrine Falcon just flew into a pylon close to us. Brilliant views of yet again an uncommon Dutch Bird. When we are about to leave we are treated to a bonus: a Great Egret flying by. Fortunately Teus is able to relocate the bird at the other end of the reserve, so we manage to get good looks of it.
Just before we drop off Teus again, he shows us a nest of a White Stork, with 2 birds present, our last bird for the day.
Pieter drives back to Leiden to bring Dennis and Sarah to their hotel and in the meantime Teus has checked the times for the high tide in the northern part of the Netherlands for tomorrow and he calls Pieter on his cellphone, so we can agree on a pick up time for the next morning, getting us to the high tide roost in time.
Wednesday, July 16th 2008
Pieter again picks up Dennis and Sarah at their hotel in Leiden at 6 AM and drives north to a meeting point close to the Amsterdam airport, where we pick up Teus. The drive north takes us past Amsterdam, but because it is holiday season there are no traffic jams. We arrive at the high tide roost in the north of the country at exactly the right time when the water is at its highest, causing the waders to come very close to shore to roost, allowing for perfect looks. Close to 1500 Eurasian Oystercatchers, dozens of Common Redshanks and smaller groups of Eurasian Curlew, Ruddy Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin are a true spectacle to be watching this close!
Because we have to be in Den Helder in time to catch the ferry to the island of Texel and because there are two more sites we want to visit before we get to Den Helder, we have to leave the high tide roost and we drive to the town of Den Oever.
Den Oever has two ports: one on the seaside of the dike, where we manage to see our first Black Terns of the trip, but amazingly Teus also spots a Little Gull sitting on a pipeline. Other birds here include Red-breasted Merganser, Great Black-backed Gull, Linnet, Common Swift and several Great Crested Grebes. The port on the other side of the dike is much more protected from the elements and has a different set of birds, including Eurasian Reed Warbler, lots of Tufted Ducks and Mute Swans and some Common Pochards.
On the ferry there is usually some good birding to be done and we see some of the gulls very nearby, including Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black-headed Gull less than 6 feet away! Common Terns and Eider are also present and we manage to see a Common Seal resting on a sandbar just before we reach the island of Texel.
Texel is the most western of the Dutch Wadden Isles and very good for birding. Nowhere in the Netherlands have more species for the country been found! Today we are not necessarily looking for rarities, but for the more common birds of the island. Our first stop is at a large tidal mudflat with some reed beds where we hope to see the target bird of the trip, Bearded Tit. We do hear them calling, but fail to see them, so after scanning the mudflat where Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Eurasian Spoonbill and European Golden Plover are present, we go for a walk to a lookout point first.
Pieter has been to Texel just one week ago and even though he heard a Penduline Tit on this walk then, the bird is no longer present. The lookout point itself has a lot of Herring Gulls and on the lake there are Gadwalls and Ruddy Duck present and we finally manage to see Great Tits, a bird we somehow managed to miss yesterday. Just before we reach the car we can hear Turtle dove calling and we see Greater and Lesser Whitethroats feeding in the bushes. When we scan the reed beds for Bearded Tit again, we finally get a group of them into view, sitting out in the open up in the reeds for a long time. The most wanted bird for Dennis and Sarah seen well!
After checking in at the hotel we go to the only woodland area on the island, a mixed forest of pine trees and deciduous forest. A Garden Warbler is singing at the parking lot and the walk we take here seems only to yield Robin, but when we are about to go back to the car we encounter a “feeding flock” with several species new for Dennis and Sarah in it. We get good looks of Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, and Coal Tit and finally of Long-tailed Tit as well. Flocks like this are uncommon in the Netherlands and neither Teus nor Pieter has ever seen one with this many birds in it, a good find!
After a quick lunch we drive north and visit another high tide roost, but because it is now low tide and because the wind has picked up considerably, there are very few birds present at this site and we decide to cross to the other side of the island where we hope there will be less wind. A good decision, because the small inland lakes do have quite a lot of birds and as usual they are very close to the car: Common Ringed Plover, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Lapwing and Sandwich Tern all come to within 30 feet of the car, allowing for superb views. The highlight at one of these small lakes however are Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Sandwich Tern and Little Tern in one scope view, something you don't see every day!
After spending close to an hour at this site, we move to the last site of the day, a large reed bed and wetland that is close to the hotel Dennis and Sarah will be staying in tonight. Just before we reach this site Teus spots a gray bird sitting in the meadow close to the car and when we stop to see what it is, it appears to be an adult male Hen Harrier sitting in the field, looking around quietly. The bird is about 100 feet for the car and we are able to study it carefully, even the yellow on the top mandible and the deep-yellow eyes are clearly visible.
Our last stop has Common Teal, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull and White Wagtail present, but the star attraction at this site is the Eurasian Spoonbill that is feeding close to road, apparently unaware of the nearby birders, eventually coming to about 40 feet from us. What a bird to end the day with!
© Birding Holland 2008
Day tour Zeeland
Day tour Texal
Previous trip reports
1. Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
2. Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
3. Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
4. Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
5. Gray Heron Ardea cinerea
6. Great Egret Ardea alba
7. Little Egret Egretta garzetta
8. White Stork Ciconia ciconia
9. Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
10. Mute Swan Cygnus olor
11. Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons
12. Greylag Goose Anser anser
13. Canada Goose Branta canadensis
14. Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis
15. Brant Branta bernicla
16. Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
17. Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
18. Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
19. Gadwall Anas strepera
20. Eurasian Teal Anas crecca
21. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
22. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
23. Common Pochard Aythya ferina
24. Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
25. Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
26. Osprey Pandion haliaetus
27. Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus
28. Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
29. Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
30. Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo
31. Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
32. Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
33. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
34. Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
35. Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
36. Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
37. Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
38. Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
39. Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
40. Eurasian Golden-Plover Pluvialis apricaria
41. Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
42. Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
43. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
44. Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
45. Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
46. Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
47. Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
48. Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
49. Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
50. Common Redshank Tringa totanus
51. Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
52. Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
53. Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
54. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
55. Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
56. Red Knot Calidris canutus
57. Sanderling Calidris alba
58. Dunlin Calidris alpina
59. Ruff Philomachus pugnax
60. Mew Gull Larus canus
61. Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
62. Herring Gull Larus argentatus
63. Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus graellsii
64. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
65. Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
66. Little Gull Larus minutus
67. Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
68. Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
69. Common Tern Sterna hirundo
70. Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
71. Little Tern Sterna albifrons
72. Black Tern Chlidonias niger
73. Stock Pigeon Columba oenas
74. Common Wood-Pigeon Columba palumbus
75. Eurasian Turtle-Dove Streptopelia turtur
76. Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto
77. Common Swift Apus apus
78. Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
79. Sky Lark Alauda arvensis
80. Bank Swallow Riparia riparia
81. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
82. House Martin Delichon urbica
83. White Wagtail Motacilla alba
84. Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
85. Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
86. Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
87. Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula
88. Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
89. Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti Heard only
90. Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
91. Eurasian Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
92. Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina
93. Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
94. Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
95. Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
96. Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
97. Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis
98. Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca Heard only
99. European Robin Erithacus rubecula
100. Bearded Reedling Panurus biarmicus
101. Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
102. Coal Tit Periparus ater
103. Great Tit Parus major
104. Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
105. Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
106. Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
107. Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
108. Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula
109. Carrion Crow Corvus corone
110. European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
111. House Sparrow Passer domesticus
112. Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
113. Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
114. European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
115. European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
116. Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina
117. Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
118. Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Introduced or escaped species (not countable):
119. Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus
120. Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
121. Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
122. Ring-necked Parakeet Psitticula krameri
European Hare Lepus europaeus
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus
Common Seal Phoca vitulina
© Birding Holland 2008