Holland - Texel Island - August 8th - 9th, 2013

Published by Graham Chisholm (graham.chisholm AT gmail.com)

Participants: Graham Chisholm


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Eurasian Oystercatcher -- Jos Van den Berg
Eurasian Oystercatcher -- Jos Van den Berg

During a recent trip to Europe, a friend and I were able to squeeze in a short day and half trip to Texel, the western most of the West Frisian Islands, off the coast of Holland. Texel’s primary land cover is agriculture though there are some nice dune systems along the western shore. It is 25 km long and 9 km wide and lies 3 km off the mainland. We were primarily interested in enjoying Texel’s large aggregations of shorebirds on southward migration.


It is very easy to visit from Amsterdam. There is regular and convenient train service from Amsterdam’s Central Station to Den Helder (75 minutes), the “E” Bus to the Ferry Terminal (10 minutes) and ferry to Texel (20 minutes). Once you arrive on Texel, there are a number of options for getting around.

We arranged to have a local birding guide, Jos van den Berg (www.birdingtexel.com) help us get to know the island. Jos and his wife live in De Cocksdorp, the eastern most community on the island, and both speak excellent English and are great to be around. Jos knows the island well and is knowledgeable about land-use, conservation and natural history. He is an avid photographer as well as birder. We stayed at his home as they also operate a B&B. It was very comfortable, clean and great to be in the center of the small community.

We rented bikes on the evening of August 7th in order to have them available first thing in the morning. We made clear from the start we were interested in a relaxed day of birding by bike.


August 8th

Leaving the house at 6:30 am, we biked along the island’s northeastern shore toward the lighthouse, stopping several times to scope the shore line and Wadden Sea. There were numerous gulls (Herring, Black-headed, Lesser black-backed, Common Gulls, and a few Greater Black-backed Gulls), Little and Sandwich Terns, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot and Dunlin.

We parked our bikes and searched an area of shrubby vegetation just south of the lighthouse for an Aquatic Warbler that had been found on August 5th. After searching for 30 minutes, we decided to move on to searching for land migrants. There are a series of shrub and tree patches that consistently attract migrants. The fall songbird migration was just beginning to get underway. We found several residents and migrants, including Northern Wheatear, Stonechat, European Pied Flycatcher, Grasshopper Warbler. We enjoyed watching Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Eurasian Kestrel.

In order to catch the high tide along the shore and seek out shorebirds roosting in agricultural fields, we bicycled back through De Cocksdorp and along the dikes on the island southeastern shore. We quickly found a flock of well over 2,000 Eurasian Oystercatchers, and several large flocks of Eurasian Curlews, totalling perhaps close to 15,000 birds. In addition, there were large groups of Eurasian Golden Plover. In the fields, small wetlands and near shore we saw numerous other species, including Eurasian Spoonbill, Greylag (numerous), Barnacle (small numbers) and Egyptian (introduced) Geese, Common Eider, Gadwall, Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Great Crested and Eared Grebe.

We stopped at a wetland created within the past three years that this year is hosting 1,100 pairs of Sandwich Terns and watched a continual stream of adults bringing back small forage fish for nearly fledged young. Other species in the vicinity included: Northern Lapwing, Common Ringed Plover, Common Greenshank, Common Redshank, Spotted Redshank (1), Pied Avocet, Black-tailed (2) and Bar-tailed (850) Godwit.

We bicycled across the island to join the numerous bicyclists out for a ride along the edge of the dune systems along the island’s western shore, stopping to scope the De Slufter, an estuary. Along our route we had a flock of migrating Common Swift, Common House-Martin, Barn Swallow and Sand Martin. We returned to the area south of the lighthouse to look for the Aquatic Warbler again and we disheartened to hear from two birders that they had waited unsuccessfully for three hours. They wished us luck and within five minutes we found the Aquatic Warbler perched at the top of a shrub giving nice, if brief looks. Within a few minutes it also obliged by giving a short version of its song. Others joined and while waiting in vain for another view, we had Wren, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler among others.

August 9th

The next morning Jos and I bicycled back up to the lighthouse to look for land birds. We added a few new species including a stunning look at an adult Hobby and Northern Gannets (offshore).

Species Lists

Greylag Goose 400
Brent Goose 1
Barnacle Goose 15
Common Shelduck 8
Gadwall 2
Mallard 35
Northern Shoveler 2
Green-winged Teal 4
Tufted Duck 8
Common Eider 22
Pheasant 20
Great Crested Grebe 12
Eared Grebe 2
Northern Gannet 3
Great Cormorant 175
Eurasian Spoonbill 80
Western Marsh-Harrier 3
Common Buzzard 4
Eurasian Coot 14
Northern Lapwing 80
European Golden-Plover 85
Common Ringed Plover 10
Eurasian Oystercatcher 2400
Pied Avocet 12
Common Sandpiper 1
Green Sandpiper 5
Spotted Redshank 1
Common Greenshank 30
Common Redshank 40
Eurasian Curlew 15000
Whimbrel 10
Black-tailed Godwit 2
Bar-tailed Godwit 850
Ruddy Turnstone 100
Red Knot 15
Sanderling 10
Purple Sandpiper 1
Dunlin 500
Black-headed Gull 500
Mew Gull 100
Herring Gull 150
Lesser Black-backed Gull 75
Common Tern 25
Sandwich Tern 850
Stock Dove 3
Common Wood-Pigeon 6
European Turtle-Dove 2
Eurasian Collared-Dove 12
Common Swift 8
Eurasian Common Kestrel 4
Eurasian Magpie 2
Eurasian Jackdaw 150
Carrion Crow 20
Skylark 20
Sand Martin 1
Barn Swallow 25
Common House-Martin 8
Great Tit 4
Blue Tit 6
Eurasian Wren 1
Aquatic Warbler 1
Sedge Warbler 1
Eurasian Reed-Warbler 5
Common Grasshopper-Warbler 1
Whitethroat 4
Pied Flycatcher 1
Willow Warbler 6
European Stonechat 6
Northern Wheatear 1
Eurasian Blackbird 2
Common Starling 40
Yellow Wagtail 1
White Wagtail 4
Meadow Pipit 2
European Goldfinch 1
European Greenfinch 2
Linnet 15
House Sparrow 12