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Winter and Early Spring Birding in The Netherlands
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Winter and Early Spring Birding in The Netherlands

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 7 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 6 people
Destination(s): Netherlands  
Specialty Categories: Birdwatching   Ecotourism  
Season: December - April
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 2285 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2585 US Dollar (USD)

In winter and early spring, low-lying fields are a haven for geese with up to 14 species being recorded. Here tens of thousands of Barnacle, Brent, Bean, and White-fronted Geese along with smaller numbers of Pink-footed, Lesser White-fronted, and Red-breasted Geese flock each winter. There are also large concentrations of ducks and swans to enjoy including the exquisite Smew. Raptors are also plentiful too with Hen Harrier, Rough-legged Buzzard, and White-tailed Eagle often being seen. Other target birds, depending on season, include Eurasian Spoonbill, Whooper Swan, Black Grouse, Jack Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Black Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Common Kingfisher, Wood Lark, Water Pipit, Rock Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Bearded Reedling, Yellowhammer, and Twite.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival at Amsterdam Airport, birding in Noord-Holland and along the Afsluitdijk on the way to Friesland. Waterfowl should be abundant especially Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Eurasian Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Common Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Common Teal, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, and Smew. As we travel between the various wetlands, we'll be keeping an eye open for Gray Heron, Water Pipits, as well as flocks of Blackbirds, Redwings, Fieldfares and Brambling. Other hoped for birds include Great White Egret and Eurasian Spoonbill.

Day 2: Birding around the Lauwersmeer in Friesland. Marshes, estuary, mudflats and meadows. Arguably the best bird-site in The Netherlands the wetlands of the Lauwersmeer and the surrounding grassland can be a very rewarding visit. The number of geese to be found at Anjumer Kolken can be breathtaking. The most common species to be found are Barnacle, Dark-bellied Brent, Graylag, and White-fronted Geese, but smaller numbers of all other species can also be found. Every year most of the rare geese visiting the Netherlands (Red-breasted Goose, Ross`s Goose, Lesser White-fronted Goose and Black Brent) are reported in this area.

The nearby coastal areas should produce flocks of coastal passerines, including Shore Lark, Rock Pipit and Twite. The marshes in the Lauwersmeer give a great opportunity to see Great Bittern, Hen Harrier and Bearded Reedling amongst others. Other widespread birds we should see include Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Common Magpie, Eurasian Kestrel, Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank, and European Golden Plover.

Day 3: Birding in the southwest corner of Friesland. Meadows and lakes. This is the main wintering area of Pink-footed Geese in The Netherlands. Depending on the time of year virtually the whole Spitsbergen population of the species is present in this area. Big numbers of waterfowl are present on the lakes and big flocks of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover can be found on the meadows.

Day 4: Birding in Overijssel and the Oostvaardersplassen. Heathland,forest and marsh. In March it is possible to visit the Holterberg, the last place where Black Grouse occurs in The Netherlands. Witnessing the display of these grouse is a true spectacle. Other birds occurring on the heathlands and surrounding forests are Black Woodpecker, Great Grey Shrike, European Bullfinch and Hawfinch, amongst others. The Oostvaardersplassen are a large wetland in the central reclaimed area of The Netherlands is a popular place to visit both by Dutch birdwatchers and by foreign visitors. It can easily be reached and there are some excellent hides in the area. In winter it is one of the best places to see White-tailed Eagle. The attractive Smew favors this area too (and can sometimes occur in big flocks if the weather has been cold), while other nice finds could include Water Rail, Ruff, Whooper Swan, Great White Egret, Eurasian Golden Plovers, and the solitary Great Grey Shrike.

Day 5: Birding on the Veluwe in Gelderland. Heathland and forest. In the center of the country, we will visit the National Park Hoge Veluwe with its extensive forests and heathland. Here and in much of the surrounding woodland we can find most of the characteristic woodland species such as Black Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Willow Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit and European Nuthatch.

Day 6: Birding around Arnhem, Gelderland. Around this city we will visit a variety of habitats to connect with the last of our target species. The city parks provide a good chance to see both Common Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. Marsh areas and meadows along the river Rhine hold Great White Egret and both sub-species of Bean Goose. Other birds that will be searched for are Caspian Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Jack Snipe, Tawny Owl, Long-eared Owl and Little Owl.

Day 7: Birding in Gelderland and Utrecht on the way back to Amsterdam airport. The available time on our way to the airport will be spent looking for waterfowl in the Randmeren. These are shallow lakes between the former two provinces and Flevoland. Large numbers of grebes and ducks can be found here. Including Slavonian Grebe and the uncommon Red-crested Pochard.

Leader: Vincent de Boer. Expect: c110 species

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Brochures not available. Please write for information. Note: Significant discount will apply if staying in bungalows instead of 3-star hotels.

Price Includes:
- Accommodations
- Ground transport
- All meals
- Bilingual naturalist guide (specialized in birdwatching)
- All entrance fees.

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