Birding in the centre of the Netherlands, the Green Heart, Saturday 23 April 2017

guides: Menno van Duijn

Male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker during a guided birding tour by Birding Nethelands.

The coffee machine is switched on at 04:15 and with the smell of fresh coffee, and a quick breakfast, I check the latest bird sightings and weather info. Half an hour later, I drive to Leiden to pick up Wouter Teunissen. Wouter will also join on this guided birding day tour. Although it’s still dark, a Black Redstart is singing when I meet Wouter in the city centre. As we don’t want to be late, we arrive 20 minutes before 06:00 in Amsterdam to pick up Ed. Blackbirds, Chiffchaff and Wren are actively singing, while everybody is still asleep in the capital.

We drive towards Hilversum where we’ll be looking for Black Woodpecker and other woodland birds. When we arrive in the forest, we walk into an open area where we stumble upon a very beautiful male Common Redstart. The bird is singing in a treetop and gives us splendid views in the telescope. We walk on, and soon hear several singing Short-toed Treecreepers, another target for this morning. The air is filled with bird songs, like Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Tree Pipit and Woodlark. Suddenly we hear calls of a Crested Tit. We find the bird, which is looking for insects in a pine tree. It's showing off and it's pretty close!

While looking at a singing Tree Pipit in the first morning light, a pair of Hawfinches fly by. The birds perch in a treetop, which is still free of leaves. Wouter puts the telescope on them and there's not 2 but there are 4 birds in the same tree. The pairs don't tolerate each other and one pair is scared off by the other. In the distance we hear a Black Woodpecker calling. We decide to walk towards the calls. Then all of a sudden, two dogs flush a large black bird that lands 30 meters in front us, on the side of a tree. It's a female Black Woodpecker, all in the open and at eye-level! She sits still for at least 30 seconds and then flies off into the forest. Goosebumps and High-fives follow, what a splendid sighting! We continue our walk, see a few nice Bullfinches and on the car park we find some young Siskins that are being fed by a parent.

We visit the Hilversumse Meent, a marshland particular good for Purple Herons. As soon as we step out of the car Sand- and House Martins fly overhead and from every stretch of reed we hear Sedge Warblers singing. Other songbirds we encounter here are Bluethroats, Grasshopper Warblers, Savi’s Warblers, Stonechats, Common Linnets and Reed Buntings. In total we see 5 Purple Herons, 2 Great Egrets, some Grey Herons and a few Spoonbills. A Raven is a nice surprise as are the four Garganey of which we get very nice flight shots. The number and variety of waders is lower than expected with only 3 Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, two Redshank and about 20 Avocets. It's also reasonbly good for Ducks. Apart from the Garganeys, we get Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler.

Our next destination is Nieuwkoop but we take the tourist route. We stop at the Loosdrechtse Plassen, where we hope to see Litte Gull and Black Tern. When we scan the lake we count over 150 Little Gulls and 25 Black Terns all in summer plumage, about 150 Swifts also forage on the numerous emerging non-biting midges. As we drive further we tick-off Eurasian Widgeon, Red-crested Pochards and Rook along the road.

A 15 minute downpour keeps us in the car on the parking lot at Nieuwkoop so we have a coffee and tea with some dutch biscuits “Stroopwafels”. As soon as the rain stops we see about 200 Black-tailed Godwits taking off as do about 50 Ruff. Luckily there are plenty resting and foraging in the area. We had to work to get our wader species. We got some Little Ringed Plovers, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Avocets, Spotted Redshanks, a Common Snipe, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew. But we also missed a few wader species that are regular occuring species in this time of the year. Despite this, we have fantastic views on Savi’s Warbler, Bluethroat, Avocets and Spoonbills. Especially the Savi's warbler showed well. This species is more often heard than seen, so we were very happy with this bird!

We have some spare hours and decide to drive to the dunes near The Hague. When we stop beside the road to look for Nightingale, Lesser- and Common Whitethroat we suddenly spot a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, foraging in the treetops where the leaves and flowers start to emerge. Soon we also find the female and we have great views on both. We count ourselves very lucky, as woodpeckers are very difficult to find as soon as they start breeding. Later we also stop at Katwijk to look for gulls, terns and other seabirds. We do see the regular Herring, Lesser- and Greater Black-backed Gulls and briefly see a possible Caspian Gull. We scan the sea but only see Common Terns and four Black Scoters but no migration.

The last stop of the day: the meadows and flowerfields near Voorhout. On the fields we see Sky Larks, 8 Northern Wheatears, 3 Whimbrel and the local breeding Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks and Lapwings. By now it’s time to head back to Schiphol for Ed to catch his flight. We had a very good day which resulted in 115 species of birds.

The day started with some nice sunshine but later the cold wind from the north picked up and brought in more clouds and some showers. Weather conditions with northwestern winds were really bad for bird migration not only today but also the last week. So even without any bird migration, we got way over a 100 species within this 12 hours of birding. Imagine what we could have seen if weather conditions were only a little better.. Still we were very happy and felt very successful with the number of species we recorded. But not only the number was good, even more important was that the quality of the sightings was good, especially with the Black Woodpecker, the Garganey, the Savi's Warbler, the Little Gulls, the Purple Herons and of course... the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers.

(all photos were taken during the trip!)

BNL List
UK NL Latin
Great Crested Grebe Fuut Podiceps cristatus
Great Cormorant Aalscholver Phalacrocorax carbo
Grey Heron Blauwe Reiger Ardea cinerea
Purple Heron Purperreiger Ardea purpurea
Great Egret Grote Zilverreiger Ardea alba
White Stork Ooievaar Ciconia ciconia
Spoonbill Lepelaar Platalea leucorodia
Mute Swan Knobbelzwaan Cygnus olor
Tundra Bean Goose Toendrarietgans Anser rossicus
White-fronted Goose Kolgans Anser albifrons
Greylag Goose Grauwe Gans Anser anser
Canada Goose Canadese Gans Branta canadensis
Barnacle Goose Brandgans Branta leucopsis
Shelduck Bergeend Tadorna tadorna
Wigeon Smient Anas penelope
Gadwall Krakeend Anas strepera
Teal Wintertaling Anas crecca
Mallard Wilde Eend Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Pintail Pijlstaart Anas acuta
Garganey Zomertaling Anas querquedula
Shoveler Slobeend Anas clypeata
Red-crested Pochard Krooneend Netta rufina
Common Pochard Tafeleend Aythya ferina
Tufted Duck Kuifeend Aythya fuligula
Black Scoter Zwarte Zee-eend Melanitta nigra
Marsh-Harrier Bruine Kiekendief Circus aeruginosus
Northern Goshawk Havik Accipiter gentilis
Buzzard Buizerd Buteo buteo
Kestrel Torenvalk Falco tinnunculus
Water Rail Waterral Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen Waterhoen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Meerkoet Fulica atra
Oystercatcher Scholekster Haematopus ostralegus
Avocet Kluut Recurvirostra avosetta
Lapwing Kievit Vanellus vanellus
Ringed Plover Bontbekplevier Charadrius hiaticula
Little Ringed Plover Kleine Plevier Charadrius dubius
Snipe Watersnip Gallinago gallinago
Black-tailed Godwit Grutto Limosa limosa
Whimbrel Regenwulp Numenius phaeopus
Curlew Wulp Numenius arquata
Spotted Redshank Zwarte Ruiter Tringa erythropus
Redshank Tureluur Tringa totanus
Greenshank Groenpootruiter Tringa nebularia
Ruff Kemphaan Philomachus pugnax
Common Gull Stormmeeuw Larus canus
Great Black-backed Gull Grote Mantelmeeuw Larus marinus
Herring Gull Zilvermeeuw Larus argentatus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Kleine Mantelmeeuw Larus graellsii
Black-headed Gull Kokmeeuw Larus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull Zwartkopmeeuw Larus melanocephalus
Little Gull Dwergmeeuw Larus minutus
Common Tern Visdief Sterna hirundo
Black Tern Zwarte Stern Chlidonias niger
Stock Pigeon Holenduif Columba oenas
Wood-Pigeon Houtduif Columba palumbus
Collared-Dove Turkse Tortel Streptopelia decaocto
Swift Gierzwaluw Apus apus
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Kleine Bonte Specht Dendrocopos minor
Greater Spotted Woodpecker Grote Bonte Specht Dendrocopos major
Black Woodpecker Zwarte Specht Dryocopus martius
Wood Lark Boomleeuwerik Lullula arborea
Sky Lark Veldleeuwerik Alauda arvensis
Sand Martin Oeverzwaluw Riparia riparia
Barn Swallow Boerenzwaluw Hirundo rustica
House Martin Huiszwaluw Delichon urbica
White Wagtail Witte Kwikstaart Motacilla alba
Pied Wagtail Rouwkwikstaart Motacilla yarrellii
Yellow Wagtail Gele Kwikstaart Motacilla flava
Tree Pipit Boompieper Anthus trivialis
Meadow Pipit Graspieper Anthus pratensis
Goldcrest Goudhaan Regulus regulus
Wren Winterkoning Troglodytes troglodytes
Dunnock Heggemus Prunella modularis
Blackbird Merel Turdus merula
Song Thrush Zanglijster Turdus philomelos
Mistle Thrush Grote Lijster Turdus viscivorus
Grasshopper Warbler Sprinkhaanzanger Locustella naevia
Savi's Warbler Snor Locustella luscinioides
Sedge Warbler Rietzanger Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Willow Warbler Fitis Phylloscopus trochilus
Chiffchaff Tjiftjaf Phylloscopus collybita
Blackcap Zwartkop Sylvia atricapilla
Whitethroat Grasmus Sylvia communis
Lesser Whitethroat Braamsluiper Sylvia curruca
Robin Roodborst Erithacus rubecula
Nightingale Nachtegaal Luscinia megarhynchos
Bluethroat Blauwborst Luscinia cyanecula
Redstart Gekraagde Roodstaart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Stonechat Roodborsttapuit Saxicola rubicola
Northern Wheatear Tapuit Oenanthe oenanthe
Long-tailed Tit Staartmees Aegithalos caudatus
Willow Tit Glanskop Poecile montana
Coal Tit Zwarte Mees Periparus ater
Crested Tit Kuifmees Lophophanes cristatus
Great Tit Koolmees Parus major
Blue Tit Pimpelmees Cyanistes caeruleus
Nuthatch Boomklever Sitta europaea
Treecreeper Boomkruiper Certhia familiaris
Jay Gaai Garrulus glandarius
Magpie Ekster Pica pica
Jackdaw Kauw Corvus monedula
Rook Roek Corvus frugilegus
Carrion Crow Zwarte Kraai Corvus corone
Raven Raaf Corvus corax
Starling Spreeuw Sturnus vulgaris
House Sparrow Huismus Passer domesticus
Chaffinch Vink Fringilla coelebs
Greenfinch Groenling Carduelis chloris
Siskin Sijs Carduelis spinus
Goldfinch Putter Carduelis carduelis
Linnet Kneu Carduelis cannabina
Bullfinch Goudvink Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Hawfinch Appelvink Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Reed Bunting Rietgors Emberiza schoeniclus