We started our tour with a visit to the beautiful Wadden island of Texel, an island that just a week after our tour has been voted number 9 in the Lonely Planet’s list of top European destinations!! Our visit certainly didn’t disappoint with the birds including Eurasian Dotterel, Black-winged Stilts, Temminck’s Stint, Garganey, thousands of geese and terns including Black Brant, Arctic and Little Terns, Western Marsh Harriers, a Northern Goshawk being tormented by Eurasian Magpies, spectacular numbers of shorebirds, many of which in full breeding plumage, Eurasian Spoonbills, Icterine Warbler and a Nightingale that obliged by singing nonstop whilst we watched him in the telescope!
These experiences were all enlivened by beautiful spring weather, and a stay in what can only be described as one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. We were treated to some superb local food, washed down with locally brewed ‘Skuumkoppe’ and a selection of wines. The breakfast buffet was a spectacle in itself, just missing out on the Lonely Planet top 10!
Once back on the mainland we diverted slightly to enjoy a Red-necked Phalarope, one of 13 species of wader on a small pool! From there we drove between the IJsselmeer and Markermeer, using the Houtribdijk, and ended our journey at a site where a wintering Red-breasted Goose was still delaying its return journey north. With the afternoon sun this rare and beautiful goose looked stunning, surrounded by Barnacle Geese and displaying Black-tailed Godwits.
Our home for the next two nights was the Hoge Veluwe, where beech and pine forests are separated by patches of open heath. The weather had changed by the time we visited but that didn’t prevent us from seeing Eurasian Nightjar, Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Stonechat, Whinchat, Common Cuckoo, Short-toed Treecreeper and Crested Tit.
Further north we managed to enjoy part of the small Red-footed Falcon invasion, with several birds being seen plus Eurasian Hobby, Common Crane and White Storks.
The last day saw us heading south west towards Rotterdam, where a small reserve hosted breeding Black Terns, Purple Herons, Bluethroat, an amazingly showy Cetti’s Warbler and a selection of ducks and a ‘reeling’ Savi’s Warbler.
From there we had time to explore the Biesbosch, the only tidal freshwater habitat in Europe. The highlight here was undoubtedly the adult White-tailed Eagle that flew over, but there were plenty of shorebirds and ducks to keep us busy, a couple of Mediterranean Gulls, more Eurasian Spoonbills and several Great Egrets.
So in just a few days we had had chance to sample a real mixture of habitats in one of Europes smallest countries, we were well looked after by the hotels and nobody seemed to go hungry?! At the end of the tour we dropped the group in Amsterdam where everyone was spending a few days to see the sights.
– James Lidster
Created: 27 May 2016