A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Holland: Birding and Dutch Masters 2022

November 26-December 5, 2022 with Godfried Schreur & Jesse Fagan guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Herring Gulls in front of the Hofvijver and the governmental buildings of the Binnenhof, while in the background you see the modern skyline of The Hague. Photo by participant Len Sander.

Birds & Art, a perfect match!

Bearded Reedling and Smew were rated as the best birds of the trip. No wonder! Look at their design, the colors, the harmony, in a way they represent the finest artwork on earth...

White-tailed Eagle, Long-eared and Tawny Owl were also considered as very exciting. Although the Kingfisher, Northern Lapwing, Eurasian Curlew and the Tundra Bean Goose were very much appreciated as well. Overall, we surely observed impressive birds and in good numbers, especially waterfowl.

Meanwhile we experienced that the weather in the Netherlands in winter is unpredictable. During the tour we had a bit of everything, including cold, wind and fog. Arriving to a comfortable museum in the afternoon after some winter birding, having a warm lunch and afterwards enjoying some brilliant masterpieces was very convenient. That's why Holland is such a good destination; it combines birding with visits to the top notch museums with paintings of the most famous painters. In this sense, it was definitely the Mauritshuis that overruled our highest expectations. What a charming first class fine art museum!

But there was more that made this tour so interesting and special. We have had the opportunity to see and learn about the history and the ever-lasting battle of the Dutch against the water. There was no day that we did not bird from a dike, a dam, or next to an ancient windmill. Furthermore, we were able to see that nature conservation is taken seriously in Holland, with big projects of "rewilding", reconverting agricultural land into (new) nature. It was great to get to know the Netherlands from inside and from different perspectives.

—Godfried Godwit Grutto

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

GRAYLAG GOOSE (Anser anser)

Massive numbers everywhere

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Graylag Goose is a common resident in The Netherlands and their grazing activity plays an important role in maintaining the open water in wetlands. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.


Very common as well. I remember searching for the Lesser White-fronted Goose in the mist as we scanned through hundreds of Greater White-fronted.

TUNDRA BEAN-GOOSE (Anser serrirostris)

We saw dozens, both in the Southwestern Delta as well as close to Den Oever. The darker head stands out when scanning through hundreds of grey geese.

BRANT (DARK-BELLIED) (Branta bernicla bernicla)

Present in good numbers in all the coastal wetlands. We enjoyed close views of them at the Brouwersdam.

BARNACLE GOOSE (Branta leucopsis)

Numerous in meadows both at the coast as well as further inland.

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We scanned through many groups of Barnacle Goose in search of the rare goose species. Photo by participant Mae Sander.

CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis) [I]

Very common but still considered an escape.

MUTE SWAN (Cygnus olor)

The most abundant of the 4 species of swans seen during the tour.

BLACK SWAN (Cygnus atratus) [I]

We saw two individuals in the Southwestern Delta.

TUNDRA SWAN (BEWICK'S) (Cygnus columbianus bewickii)

We first saw and heard them at the same moment that we observed the Smew for the first time. So we did not pay too much attention to this bird at first. The next day on Texel we had a second chance and we enjoyed good views of this pretty swan.

WHOOPER SWAN (Cygnus cygnus)

Only 3 Whoopers in the Oostvaardersplassen.

EGYPTIAN GOOSE (Alopochen aegyptiaca) [I]

Very abundant and widespread.

COMMON SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadorna)

All together, we saw over 120 individuals of this extremely attractive and rather big duck.

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Common Shelduck is easy to pick out and distinguish amongst the waterfowl. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

Present in almost all wetlands. At least 300 individuals at the Southwestern Delta.

GADWALL (Mareca strepera)

Common and widespread in "the lowlands".

EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope)

All together we must have seen over 1000. We encountered the biggest numbers in the Southwestern Delta.

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)

Present in all types of wetland, even in the canals in towns and cities.


Not so abundant as the previous duck species, still we saw dozens of Northern Pintails.

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (EURASIAN) (Anas crecca crecca)

We enjoyed the best views of this species at the island of Texel.

COMMON POCHARD (Aythya ferina)

There were about 2500 Common Pochards roosting at the Gouwzee near Marken.

TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula)

Common and widespread in all the wetlands that we visited. We encountered the biggest number, about 5000 individuals, at the Gouwzee.

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About 250,000 Tufted Ducks winter in Holland. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.

GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila)

15 Greater Scaups at the Gouwzee near Marken.

COMMON EIDER (Somateria mollissima)

We had distant views of Common Eiders on two occasions, in the Southwestern Delta and on the Wadden Sea at Texel.

COMMON SCOTER (Melanitta nigra)

A group of about 40 Common Scoters flew past the ferry from Texel to the mainland.

COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)

We saw dozens all together and some good views on several occasions.

SMEW (Mergellus albellus)

For some guests this was the best bird of the trip. We saw males and females of this attractive species on several occasions. We managed the best views close to Lelystad.

COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)

Dozens all together, males and females. Best views, together with the Smew, close to Lelystad, province of Flevoland.


In the Southwestern Delta we saw most of the Red-breasted Mergansers of this tour, at least 200 individuals.

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Mallard, very abundant but still a good looking duck. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

RING-NECKED PHEASANT (Phasianus colchicus) [I]

Once introduced as a hunting species, it is now resident and fairly common in the Netherlands.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

In winter plumage.

HORNED GREBE (Podiceps auritus)

Together with Eared Grebe at the Brouwersdam. That was a good opportunity to compare the two similar species in winter plumage.

GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus)

Very common and widespread. Beautiful bird!

EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)

In winter plumage it looks like a Horned Grebe. At the Brouwersdam we were able to compare the two species and see the differences.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)

Feral Pigeons in cities like The Hague and Amsterdam

STOCK DOVE (Columba oenas)

Smaller than the Common Wood-pigeon and lacking the white on wings and neck, the Stock Dove is a common winter bird in the Netherlands.

COMMON WOOD-PIGEON (Columba palumbus)

Almost every day bird. Present in all places with some trees, and very common in woodlands.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)

We saw a few Eurasian Collared Doves, mainly in urban areas.

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Eurasian Moorhen. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

WATER RAIL (Rallus aquaticus)

Heard on several occasions, seen only distantly at the Oostvaardersplassen.

EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)

Present in all fresh water wetlands.

EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)

Probably the most numerous bird in winter in the Netherlands. We saw thousands, the biggest number at the Gouwzee near Marken.

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About half a million Eurasian Coots winter in Holland. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)

This elegant wader is a regular winter visitor in Holland. We saw at least 200 individuals.

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The black and white pattern of the Pied Avocet in flight is unmistakeable. Photo by participant Len Sander.
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus ostralegus)

In the Southwestern Delta, we saw hundreds Eurasian Oystercatchers gathering during the afternoon at a roost in order to spend the night amongst family and friends.

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Eurasian Oystercatchers at a roost getting ready for a cold night. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

In winter this plover is lacking the black belly. The English name, Grey Plover, would be more appropriate during this time of year.

EUROPEAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis apricaria)

We saw good numbers of the European Golden Plover, although we had to wait until Texel to manage close by views.

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European Golden-Plovers often feed together with Northern Lapwings. Photo by participant Len Sander.

NORTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus vanellus)

Hundreds if not thousands of Northern Lapwings spread out over the meadows and wetlands of the lowlands.

COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula)

Seen on two occasions.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

EURASIAN CURLEW (Numenius arquata)

Very common winter visitor in the Netherlands.

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Beautiful picture of Eurasian Curlews in flight. Photo by participant Len Sander.

BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica)

We saw small numbers at the Haringvlietdam and on the coast of Texel.


We found the national bird of Holland only once during this tour. The winter plumage is gray and dull but the black band on the tail is always a good feature.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

Showed up several times on rocky shores at the coast.

RED KNOT (Calidris canutus)

One obliging Red Knot showed well at the Brouwersdam. However our attention was more attracted by the Purple Sandpipers at that moment.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

We saw 5 sanderlings at the Brouwersdam.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

Wintering in large numbers at the Dutch coastline.

PURPLE SANDPIPER (Calidris maritima)

15 Purple Sandpipers allowed a good view at the Brouwersdam in the Southwestern Delta.

COMMON SNIPE (Gallinago gallinago)

Seen on 5 days of the tour, but never in great numbers, probably due to their camouflage and secretive behaviour.

GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus)

Two birds at the Oostvaardersplassen.

COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus)

Common along the Dutch coastline during winter.

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The Purple Sandpiper breeds in Scandinavia, Iceland and northern Russia, and winters in small numbers along the Dutch coast. Photo by participant Len Sander.
Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)

RAZORBILL (Alca torda)

One bird at close range at the Brouwersdam. However it was hard to manage a picture as he was constantly diving.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

BLACK-HEADED GULL (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Every day bird, common and widespread.

COMMON GULL (EUROPEAN) (Larus canus canus)

Widespread but in smaller numbers than the Black-headed and the Herring Gull.

HERRING GULL (Larus argentatus)

Abundant in all the wetlands visited during the tour.


Just one bird recorded during the trip.


This enormous gull appears regularly along the coast of the Netherlands in winter.

ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea)

We discovered an adult Arctic Tern in the harbour of Den Oever. That is considered a rarity at this time of year.

Gaviidae (Loons)

RED-THROATED LOON (Gavia stellata)

In winter plumage, the slightly upward shaped beak is a good feature.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Very common and widespread.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)

Common and widespread resident in Holland.

GREAT EGRET (EURASIAN) (Ardea alba alba)

Every-day-bird but less numerous than the Gray Heron.

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Nice shot of a Great Egret (Eurasian) in the sun! Photo by participant Len Sander.

LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)

The Little Egret is increasing rapidly in the Netherlands, especialy in the southwest.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

EURASIAN SPOONBILL (Platalea leucorodia)

We saw this beautiful bird on 3 occasions. Traditionally, all the Eurasian Spoonbills migrate to Africa in autumn but nowadays more and more stay over for the winter.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

EURASIAN MARSH-HARRIER (Circus aeruginosus)

Just one bird during the whole trip.

HEN HARRIER (Circus cyaneus)

We enjoyed splendid views of males and females in the dunes of Texel-island.


When there is alarm amongst the Starlings and other passerines, there is usually a Sparrowhawk close by.

WHITE-TAILED EAGLE (Haliaeetus albicilla)

In and around Flevoland we had the opportunity to see 3 cracking White-tailed Eagles. Two birds hunting in the same area caused a lot of alarm among the geese.

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Note the size of the White-tailed Eagle! Photo by participant Len Sander.

COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo)

Every day bird, common and widespread.

Strigidae (Owls)

TAWNY OWL (Strix aluco)

At the first hotel in Rockanje we heard the Tawny Owl calling every night. Close to the Veluwe our local guide showed us a stunning Tawny Owl that showed very well.

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Tawny Owl at his day-roost. Photo by participant Len Sander.

LONG-EARED OWL (Asio otus)

The same guide took us to a day roost of Long-eared Owls. At least 4 birds were visible. Brilliant!

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)


One of the birds that showed up during the tour stayed long enough on the same spot to enjoy the view through the scope. Lovely!

Picidae (Woodpeckers)


We saw and heard the Great Spotted Woodpecker at various places.

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Woodpeckers were hard to find during the tour. But we saw the Great Spotted Woodpecker almost every day. Photo by participant Len Sander.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

EURASIAN KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus)

Common and widespread, often seen hovering next to the road.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

A hungry Peregrine Falcon caused some disturbance among the waders that were gathering at the roost for the night.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

EURASIAN JAY (Garrulus glandarius)

On various occasions, we encountered Eurasian Jays but they often disappeared rapidly in the woodland. In the end we managed to get a good view.


Pretty bird that showed up on each and every day of the trip.

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The Eurasian Magpie has got the reputation of picking up all kinds of silver and glittery items, and indeed, it´s true. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.

EURASIAN JACKDAW (Corvus monedula)

Good numbers, sometimes forming big flocks at the communal roosts.

CARRION CROW (WESTERN) (Corvus corone corone)

Very common and widespread.

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

One bird was seen at the Oostvaardersplassen where they feed on carrion.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

CRESTED TIT (Lophophanes cristatus)

Awesome little bird with this funny crest.

MARSH TIT (Poecile palustris)

Seen and heard on two occasions.

EURASIAN BLUE TIT (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Very attractive looking bird with his striking face pattern and blue cap.

GREAT TIT (Parus major)

Common garden and woodland bird. Seen almost every day, often forming mixed flocks together with the Eurasian Blue Tit and other species.

Alaudidae (Larks)

EURASIAN SKYLARK (Alauda arvensis)

They tend to stay hidden in the grass, but on Texel we managed to get some views.

Panuridae (Bearded Reedling)

BEARDED REEDLING (Panurus biarmicus)

The bird of the trip! This surprisingly attractive reedbird showed in two occasions very well. Wonderful!

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It was hard to get a good shot of the Bearded Reedling, because they stay hidden most of the time in the reedbed. Photo by participant Len Sander.
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)

COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (Phylloscopus collybita)

Two birds in the Oostvaardersplassen that prefered to stay in the cold north than flying a long way to the warm south.

Scotocercidae (Bush Warblers and Allies)

CETTI'S WARBLER (Cettia cetti)

Jesse found one Cetti´s Warbler that showed relatively well, for this species...

Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)

LONG-TAILED TIT (Aegithalos caudatus)

Funny little dot of feathers with a long tail. A small group of Long-tailed Tits appeared during our walk in the Oostvaardersplassen.

Regulidae (Kinglets)

GOLDCREST (Regulus regulus)

The Goldcrest is known as the smallest bird in Europe. Their high pitched calls can be hard to pick up. We managed to see them in several wooded areas.

COMMON FIRECREST (Regulus ignicapilla)

Slightly bigger and obviously more colorful than the Goldcrest, the Firecrest is actually a wonderful bird to see.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

EURASIAN NUTHATCH (Sitta europaea)

Common in the older woodlands with bigger trees. Seen well at the Veluwe, in the central (inland) part of the Netherlands.

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER (Certhia brachydactyla)

Seen and heard on several occasions.

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You hear the Short-toed Treecreeper more often than you see it. Photo by participant Len Sander.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)

EURASIAN WREN (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Amongst the smallest and the loudest birds of Europe. Incredible how such a small bird can produce such a loud song. Common in wooded areas.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris)

Common and widespread.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

REDWING (Turdus iliacus)

This beautiful winter visitor from Scandinavia showed nicely at the island of Texel.


Very common garden bird in Holland.

FIELDFARE (Turdus pilaris)

Another attractive thrush that showed very well on the island of Texel. Fieldfare and Redwing often form mixed flocks.

Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)

EUROPEAN ROBIN (Erithacus rubecula)

The classical winter bird that appears on Christmas greeting cards. Lovely to see them live and direct!

BLACK REDSTART (Phoenicurus ochruros)

Just one bird was recorded during the trip. It appeared in the parking lot near the Haringvliet-dam.

Prunellidae (Accentors)

DUNNOCK (Prunella modularis)

Very low profile and well camouflaged and consequently often overseen. The bird in the garden of Vogelbescherming Nederland (Birdlife International) in Zeist however showed nicely.

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Birding until dusk. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

Seen only at two sites, which is surprising, having in mind that it was once one of the most common birds in the Netherlands.


A small flock of Tree Sparrows kindly showed up when we were searching for rare geese in the mist. That was a nice and welcome interruption of our difficult task.

Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

WATER PIPIT (Anthus spinoletta)

A Water Pipit shortly showed up at the site with the Bearded Reedling, White-tailed Eagle and Smew. How come we did not pay too much attention to this little, brown bird?

ROCK PIPIT (Anthus petrosus)

On the rocks.. at the Haringvliet-dam.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

COMMON CHAFFINCH (Fringilla coelebs)

Every day bird. Very common and widespread.

BRAMBLING (Fringilla montifringilla)

Around the Kroller Muller museum there was a group of about 30 Bramblings mixed up with Common Chaffinch.

HAWFINCH (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)

In the woodland of Robbenoordbos there were several Hawfinches. One showed nicely during a minute or so, long enough to get the scope on the bird.

EURASIAN BULLFINCH (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Six birds flew by at the Haringvliet-dam.


Just two European Greenfinches were discovered during this trip.

EURASIAN LINNET (Linaria cannabina)

The only Eurasian Linnets seen during this tour were also spotted at the Haringvliet-dam. That was a productive place for finches.

EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH (Carduelis carduelis)

Apart from the Goldfinches in the Mauritshuis Museum, we were delighted to see real ones, for example at the Oostvaardersplassen. It's always a treat to see these colorful birds.

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The famous "Puttertje" of Fabritius is not the only European Goldfinch in the Mauritshuis Museum. Here, we see two European Goldfinches amongst other birds in the painting "Het aardse Paradijs met de zondeval van Adam en Eva" ("The earthly paradise with the fall of Adam and Eve") of Jan Breughelde Oude & Peter Paul Rubens. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.

EUROPEAN SERIN (Serinus serinus)

One European Serin was discovered in the mixed group of finches at the Haringvliet-dam. That is considered a rare species in Holland, especially in wintertime.

EURASIAN SISKIN (Spinus spinus)

The first Siskin showed up in the garden of our first hotel. During the rest of the tour we would encounter them on several occasions.

Emberizidae (Old World Buntings)

REED BUNTING (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Two birds were discovered at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk, during our boat tour along the windmills.


EUROPEAN BROWN HARE (Lepus europaeus)

At the end of the excursion through the Southwestern Delta, eight European Brown Hares were interacting showing a behavior of display next to our coach.

HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina)

At the Brouwersdam, we saw a Harbor Seal at close range. From the ferry to Texel island we also enjoyed good views of the this mammal.

GRAY SEAL (Halichoerus grypus)

From the Brouwersdam we saw dozens of Gray Seals and Harbor Seals that were resting on a sand bank 1 mile out of the coast.

RED DEER (Cervus elaphus)

In the Oostvaardersplassen we observed a big group of Red Deers in the distance. It must have been at least 200 animals.

ROE DEER (Capreolus capreolus)

In the Soutwestern Delta we saw at least 5 Roe Deers, some were standing in the water at the shoreline of a lake.

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The small Roe Deer is used to living in wetlands and agricultural fields. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.


The birds were fantastic and the artwork even better; the hotels were comfortable, the meals fine, the transport perfect, plenty of "comfort stops", professional drivers and knowledgeable local birding guides. It worked all perfectly well, thanks to Christine Boilard in the Field Guides office, who had everything lined up beforehand and our ground agent who took care of the logistics. Jesse and I we did our best to find and show the birds and to get the right flow and pace in the tour. But what made this tour so pleasant was your company, your patience and understanding and interesting conversations.

So, I want to thank you all for making the 2022 Birds&Art tour to Holland into a huge success.

Looking forward to welcoming you on another Field Guides tour!

Totals for the tour: 120 bird taxa and 5 mammal taxa