A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Holland: Birding and Dutch Masters 2023

November 26-December 5, 2023 with Godfried Schreur guiding

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Kinderdijk: Holland at its Best!

With a small but wonderful group of wildlife and fine art lovers, we explored a selection of the best museums and most representative nature reserves of The Netherlands. It was a fantastic trip through a fascinating country, with all these man-made landscapes, dikes, dams and polders. We enjoyed many good birds, and when I say many, I mean MANY. We must have seen tens of thousands of ducks, geese, swans, shorebirds and waders. In this year's edition, the Smew, White-tailed Eagle nor the Bearded Reedling were not the most appreciated birds, although we saw them all. This year the Red-breasted Goose, Bohemian Waxwing and Middle Spotted Woodpecker were elected as the best birds of the trip.

Apart from the birding, we visited 4 lovely museums with awesome artwork of Dutch Masters like Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Vincent van Gogh and much more. The weather was reasonably good, although we encountered some cold, snow and fog; the normal stuff in the Dutch winter, nothing serious. Furthermore, the hotels, restaurants and lunchrooms were all warm, comfortable and pleasant and the food was terrific.

I look back to a fantastic tour through my original homeland!

—Godfried Schreur, "Godwit"

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)

Widespread but not so numerous as other geese.


We saw thousands of Greater White-fronted Geese.

TUNDRA BEAN-GOOSE (Anser serrirostris)

Seen well on Texel bird-island!

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The Dark-bellied Brant breeds in central and western Siberia and winters in NW Europe.

BRANT (DARK-BELLIED) (Branta bernicla bernicla)

impressive numbers of Dark-bellied Brants winter in the coastal areas of The Netherlands.

BRANT (BLACK) (Branta bernicla nigricans)

Our expert local guide Nils van Duyvendijk discovered 1 Black Brant amongst hundreds of Dark-bellied Brants. The difference in coloring was evident.

BARNACLE GOOSE (Branta leucopsis)

The Oude Land van Strijen was "stuffed" with thousands of Barnacle Geese.

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Barnacle Goose is breeding in increasing numbers in The Netherlands. In wintertime migrants from Siberia and Nova Zembla join the resident birds.

CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis) [I]

The Canada Goose maintains a naturalized population in The Netherlands.

RED-BREASTED GOOSE (Branta ruficollis)

One of our guests localized the beautiful Red-breasted Goose amongst hundreds of Brants. In the end of the tour this bird was elected as "The Bird of the Trip".

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The Red-breasted Goose breeds in Siberia and winters mainly in eastern Europe. In Holland it is considered a rare but regular vagrant.

MUTE SWAN (Cygnus olor)


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Mute Swan in a typical Dutch scenery.

BLACK SWAN (Cygnus atratus) [I]

The Black Swan has established a small but growing breeding population in Holland where it is considered as a non-native species.

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Black Swan with Mute Swam and a variety of geese in the background.

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

We encountered one group of dozens of Bewick's Swans on the island of Texel.

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Tundra Swan (Bewick's) with Graylag and Tundra Bean Goose.

EGYPTIAN GOOSE (Alopochen aegyptiaca) [I]

Another exotic goose species that is now common and widespread in The Netherlands.

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Egyptian Geese breed anytime of year.

COMMON SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadorna)

We observed the pretty Common Shelducks at 6 birding sites, all close to the coastline.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

Present in almost all wetlands.

GADWALL (Mareca strepera)

The Gadwall has become very common and widespread in Holland, occupying nowadays urban habitats as well.

EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope)

Too many to count! The soundscape of most wetlands was filled with the typical "peeeewww" of this attractive duck.

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Eurasian Wigeon

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)

Everywhere present, but in modest numbers.


We enjoyed the best views of Northern Pintails at the Mokbaai on Texel.

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

Common and widespread in most of the wetlands, but more low-profile than other duck species.

COMMON POCHARD (Aythya ferina)

After our first view of a single beautiful drake in the pond below the presidential office in The Hague, we encountered groups of hundreds (if not thousands) of Common Pochards.

TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula)

Often together with Common Pochards, we saw hundreds of Tufted Ducks.

GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila)

Challenging to pick up Greater Scaups in a group of hundreds of Tufted Ducks. But we succeeded!

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It was sometimes a bit cold, windy and we had some rain and fog, but most of the time we enjoyed dry, sunny weather with impressive clouds in the sky.

COMMON EIDER (Somateria mollissima)

Unmistakable... with the eye-catching black and white pattern of the adult males.

COMMON SCOTER (Melanitta nigra)

We discovered a small group of Common Scoters swimming on the rough sea west of Texel.

COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)

Small numbers in several wetlands throughout the tour.

SMEW (Mergellus albellus)

W saw two stunning drakes at the Houtribsluizen close to Lelystad. They were rather far out but through the telescope they were unmistakable.

COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)

Small numbers of males and females at several wetlands.


At the Brouwersdam in Zeeland province, we counted over 100 individuals.

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Ring-necked Pheasant
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

GRAY PARTRIDGE (Perdix perdix)

We were lucky to find 7 Gray Partridges feeding in a meadow as this has become a very rare species in The Netherlands.

RING-NECKED PHEASANT (Phasianus colchicus) [I]

Originally introduced in Holland for hunting purposes, now established and a colorful appearance in the Dutch winter.

Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)

GREATER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus roseus)

What a great surprise to see the exotic Greater Flamingo in the cold water along the Dutch coastline!

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

It was hard to get good views as they were shy and diving under the water frequently. Still we encountered them on three occasions.

GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus)

Common and widespread, although mostly in winter plumage.

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Great Crested Grebe

EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)

We located 2 Eared Grebes at the Wadden Sea south of Texel.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)

Feral Pigeons in towns and cities.

STOCK DOVE (Columba oenas)

Easy to overlook with so many Wood-Pigeons around.

COMMON WOOD-PIGEON (Columba palumbus)

Common and widespread.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)

Only seen on two occasions during the tour, both in urban areas.

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Water Rail
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

WATER RAIL (Rallus aquaticus)

Splendid view of one Water Rail showing off next to an ancient Dutch windmill at Kinderdijk.

EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)

Present in most of the wetlands visited.

EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)

Impressive numbers of coots winter in the "lowlands" of Holland.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Fantastic views of this elegant shorebird at the Mokbaai on Texel island.

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Pied Avocets with Common Shelducks and more waders and shorebirds.
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)

EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus ostralegus)

With the black and white plumage and bright red beak and legs, the Eurasian Oystercatcher is hard to overlook.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

In winter, its English name "Grey Plover" is more suitable.

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European Golden-Plovers with Northern Lapwing and other shorebirds.

EUROPEAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis apricaria)

It was wonderful to see and to hear the huge golden flocks of plovers.

NORTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus vanellus)

This green plover is one of the most attractive shorebirds in the Old World. Holland is blessed with good numbers of these beauties.

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Northern Lapwing
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

EURASIAN CURLEW (Numenius arquata)

Large, brown shorebirds with long, down-curved bill. Common in all the coastal wetlands.

BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica)

We encountered two concentrations of this world champion long distance flyer.


The national bird of Holland is a migratory shorebird that winters mainly in western Africa. Some prefer to stay over in the cold Dutch winter.

COMMON SNIPE (Gallinago gallinago)

Looks very similar to your Wilson's Snipe.

GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus)

Only two birds were seen in flight.

COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus)

Very common and widespread wader in The Netherlands.

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Spotted Redshanks with 1 Common Redshank and 1 Black-tailed Godwit.

SPOTTED REDSHANK (Tringa erythropus)

We were lucky to see a nice concentration of Spotted Redshanks at the blind of Balgzand.

COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)

We encountered 3 individuals of this species that winters mainly in southern Europe and Africa.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

Good views at the Brouwersdam in the Southwestern Delta.

RED KNOT (Calidris canutus)

Some gray looking Red Knots were found in the cold Dutch winter.

RUFF (Calidris pugnax)

Seen well on two occasions on Texel island.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

It was delightful to see a resting concentration of Sanderlings at the Brouwersdam while a fishing boat was trawling in the sea in the background.

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Group of resting Sanderlings with 2 Dunlins mixed in.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

Present in significant numbers in coastal wetlands but always maintaining a low profile appearance.

Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)

PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus)

A lonely bird was found resting on the beach of the Brouwersdam while we were having lunch in a nice restaurant with good views.

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Parasitic Jaeger resting on the beach.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LITTLE GULL (Hydrocoloeus minutus)

One fly-by at the Brouwersdam.

BLACK-HEADED GULL (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Very common and widespread.

COMMON GULL (EUROPEAN) (Larus canus canus)

This mid-size gull with kind expression was seen frequently, especially in meadows, feeding on worms.

HERRING GULL (Larus argentatus)

Very common especially in coastal areas.

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Herring Gull


This massive gull is restricted exclusively to the marine habitats, where it is common although never numerous.


Most of the Dutch Lesser Black-backed Gulls that breed in The Netherlands fly south to winter in the Mediterranean region. Very few stay over during the cold months.

SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

One lonely Sandwich Tern at the Brouwersdam flying and on the ground together with a variety of gulls.

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Sandwich Tern
Gaviidae (Loons)

RED-THROATED LOON (Gavia stellata)

Seen well at the Southwestern Delta.

COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)

We observed 2 Common Loons flying south along the North Sea coastline at Texel island.

Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)

NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus)

Likewise, about 10 Northern Gannets flying south over the North Sea following the Dutch coastline.

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Northern Gannet
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)

The Great Cormorant is present in all wetlands visited, even in the pond below the governmental buildings in The Hague.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)

We encountered 3 individuals in the new nature reserves of the National Park of Oosterschelde.

GREAT EGRET (ALBA) (Ardea alba alba)

Ones and twos here and there, widespread but never abundant.

GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)

Every day bird, without any doubt the most common Ardeidae of the Netherlands.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

EURASIAN SPOONBILL (Platalea leucorodia)

Some Eurasian Spoonbills prefer to stand the cold in Holland instead of migrating south during the winter. We were lucky to see a dozen of these beautiful birds.

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Common Buzzard
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

HEN HARRIER (Circus cyaneus)

We saw several ringtails (females and first winter birds) and one stunning male.


Seen on 5 occasions. On Texel island, an obliging bird perched close to a visitor center, where we enjoyed a coffee with apple pie, allowed us good views.

EURASIAN GOSHAWK (Accipiter gentilis)

Until very recently it was named Northern Goshawk as it was considered conspecific with the American Goshawk.

WHITE-TAILED EAGLE (Haliaeetus albicilla)

On Day 5, we visited the Flevopolder and surrounding border-lakes. Here we found 3 massive White-tailed Eagles. We saw them both perched and in flight.

COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo)

Every day bird, usually perched next to the road side searching for voles or rabbits.

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Tawny Owl
Strigidae (Owls)

TAWNY OWL (Strix aluco)

Thanks to the help of Fokko, our knowledgeable local guide in the woodland area around Wageningen, we found a fantastic Tawny Owl.

LONG-EARED OWL (Asio otus)

Fokko also showed us a wonderful group of roosting Long-eared Owls. Fantastic!

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Long-eared Owl
Picidae (Woodpeckers)


The rare Middle Spotted Woodpecker that we found in the woodland next to our hotel showed very well indeed! One of the best birds of the trip!

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Middle Spotted Woodpecker


By far, the most common woodpecker in The Netherlands.


Seen on two occasions but unfortunately we were not able to take good pictures of this beauty.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

EURASIAN KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus)

Every day bird, seen often hovering searching for voles and mice.

Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)

ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET (Psittacula krameri) [I]

This introduced species from Africa with its bright green plumage is an attractive species to see compared to the gray and brown of most indigenous species.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

EURASIAN JAY (Garrulus glandarius)

This native species is actually very attractive, showing some bright blue feathers in the wing.


We saw this glossy bird with its iridescent plumage every day.

EURASIAN JACKDAW (Corvus monedula)

Very social and usually found in vocal groups. Next to our first hotel we found a pair of Jackdaws that was inspecting a potential nesting site.

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Eurasian Jackdaw

ROOK (Corvus frugilegus)

Seen only once in the east of Holland.

CARRION CROW (WESTERN) (Corvus corone corone)

Yet another every day Corvid.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

CRESTED TIT (Lophophanes cristatus)

Seen in the woodlands of the National Park of De Hoge Veluwe.

EURASIAN BLUE TIT (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Very attractive looking passerine. During a short walk around our first hotel we encountered at least a dozen of these charming birds.

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Eurasian Blue Tit

GREAT TIT (Parus major)

Like the Eurasian Blue Tit, the Great Tit is a good looking bird that we saw frequently during our Holland-tour.

Alaudidae (Larks)

EURASIAN SKYLARK (Alauda arvensis)

Seen in the Oude Land van Strijen in between thousands of geese.

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Bearded Reedling
Panuridae (Bearded Reedling)

BEARDED REEDLING (Panurus biarmicus)

We managed good views of this small bird with a highly attractive design, in a reedbed on the island of Texel.

Scotocercidae (Bush Warblers and Allies)

CETTI'S WARBLER (Cettia cetti)

We managed good views of this elusive skulker next to the Haringvliet dam.

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Cetti's Warbler
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)

LONG-TAILED TIT (Aegithalos caudatus)

Several encounters with the lovely Long-tailed Tits.

Regulidae (Kinglets)

GOLDCREST (Regulus regulus)

The smallest bird of Europe showed very well on several occasions. But they never sit still to take a good photo.

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COMMON FIRECREST (Regulus ignicapilla)

We managed good views in the woodland next to our hotel in the east of The Netherlands. More colorful than the Goldcrest.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

EURASIAN NUTHATCH (Sitta europaea)

Seen and heard in several woodlands.

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Eurasian Nuthatch
Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER (Certhia brachydactyla)

Very well camouflaged but discovered thanks to his constant vocalizations.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

EURASIAN WREN (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Small but brave and powerful bird, a real Wren.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris)

Very common, widespread and abundant.

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Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

MISTLE THRUSH (Turdus viscivorus)

A big Thrush with a striking call. We saw it in the woods next to our hotel in Wageningen.

SONG THRUSH (Turdus philomelos)

Unlike the name suggests, the Song Thrush is rather non-vocal and secretive in winter season. As a result we encountered only a few of them.

REDWING (Turdus iliacus)

This striking thrush with bright supercilium and reddish underwing covers is a regular winter visitor in Holland.


This time, the Blackbird was not singing in the dead of night and his wings were not broken whatsoever ;-)

FIELDFARE (Turdus pilaris)

Another beautiful thrush that winters regularly and in good numbers in The Netherlands. During our tour, the fields of Texel island were full with feeding Fieldfares.

Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)

EUROPEAN ROBIN (Erithacus rubecula)

Every day bird. The first morning we enjoyed a very close encounter with the cute Robin.

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European Robin

BLACK REDSTART (Phoenicurus ochruros)

One encounter on a stony dike.

EUROPEAN STONECHAT (Saxicola rubicola rubicola)

Just one short encounter on the first excursion day.

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

BOHEMIAN WAXWING (Bombycilla garrulus)

We found out that there were two Bohemian Waxwings recorded close by our last hotel. Of course we couldn't resist this twitch. After a short search we found the two marvelous and rather tame birds. It was fantastic to see them at close range. Consequently, the Bohemian Waxwing was elected as the second best bird of the trip.

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Bohemian Waxwing
Prunellidae (Accentors)

DUNNOCK (Prunella modularis)

Good views during the pleasant walk around our first hotel.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

Not so common anymore as it used to be.

Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

ROCK PIPIT (Anthus petrosus)

Very typical observation of one bird at the edge of a rocky dam next to the coast. A lifer for most of the guests!

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

COMMON CHAFFINCH (Fringilla coelebs)

The most common finch of Holland. When we managed a close look, we discovered the beauty of this species.

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Common Chaffinch

BRAMBLING (Fringilla montifringilla)

It was not a good year for Bramblings. Nevertheless we found a small group during a walk around our last hotel in the dunes of western Holland.


Lovely view at the Arboretum in Wageningen.

COMMON REDPOLL (Acanthis flammea)

We found a mixed flock of finches on Texel with mainly Eurasian Siskins and European Goldfinches in the group, but mixed in there were some Common Redpolls. Some did pick up the red fronts.

RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)

Some flybys of Crossbills in the woodlands of eastern Holland.

EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH (Carduelis carduelis)

It was nice to see the ancient painting of Fabritius in the Mauritshuis museum, named "Het Puttertje". But we prefer seeing these lovely birds life and direct in the wild, free and without chains.

EURASIAN SISKIN (Spinus spinus)

Frequently heard but seen only on few occasions. This lovely little finch is a regular winter visitor in The Netherlands mainly from Scandinavia.

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The gardens around our last hotel-palace were very finchy.


OLD WORLD RABBIT (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Seen as a prey of a Common Buzzard.

EUROPEAN BROWN HARE (Lepus europaeus)

These rather large hares were very active with displaying and courtship.

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European Brown Hare

EUROPEAN RED SQUIRREL (Sciurus vulgaris)

Seen well during that lovely walk around our first hotel.

HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina)

In the ferry port of Texel.

GRAY SEAL (Halichoerus grypus)

We saw a couple of Gray Seals interacting close to the Brouwersdam.

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Gray Seal

RED DEER (Cervus elaphus)

We saw Red Deers in the National Park of De Hoge Veluwe.

ROE DEER (Capreolus capreolus)

The small Roe Deer is rather common appearance in the Netherlands in all kinds of habitats, even in wetlands and arable fields.

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Van Gogh´s Country Road in Provence by Night. Apart from beautiful birds and mammals we were thrilled by seeing wonderful paintings of Dutch Masters like Van Gogh, Vermeer, Rembrandt, etc...


During the Holland Birds & Art tour, I did my best to show you a fine selection of interesting museums with stunning artworks and a variety of natural areas with good birds, all framed in a balanced program, a relaxed pace and with comfortable hotels and restaurants and good food. I think we managed, all together, to make this trip into a successful and unforgettable experience.

Above all, I want to thank my guests for your positive vibes, patience, interesting conversations, and good company! Looking forward to meeting you all on a next Field Guides tour!

And, last but not least, I want to thank tour manager Christine Boilard, and Miriam van der Sloot from our ground agent for getting all the logistics of the tour just right. It all worked out very well indeed. You both did a great job! Thanks for all your help and assistance!

Godfried Schreur


Totals for the tour: 124 bird taxa and 7 mammal taxa