After their tour through Europe, Kevin (a very experienced birder from New York State) and Karin wanted to end with a tour in the Oostvaarderplassen. The trip started early in the morning at their hotel in Amsterdam from which we drove to the Oostvaardersplassen. The weather forecast had promised clear and sunny weather, which it was.
Leaving the busy city, we soon arrived in quieter areas, and on the way over to our first stop we already saw a number of Buzzards, Canada Geese and along the dike many Lesser Black-backed - and Black-headed Gulls.
After parking the car, we noticed many Barn-Swallows and some Sand Martins overhead, as well as large groups of Starlings. Making our way to one of the blinds, we encountered quite some warblers (a.o. ChiffChaff), Black-caps (male and female clearly visible), Great & Blue Tits, Wren, Reed Warbler to name a few. Several times we heard the loud call of a Cetti’s Warbler, some we got to see pretty good as well.
Somewhere halfway our walk some Bearded Reedlings showed themselves extremely nicely (as in the field guide): male, female and juvenile – they all perched more than long enough on top the reeds to get the perfect view and see the differences.
From the blind we saw a.o. more Cormorants, Great Egrets and in the far distance a Common Pochard.
A bit later we saw a large group of Starlings forming some compact groups in the air (“balloons”), the reason for which was a hunting Sparrow Hawk, which by the way didn’t succeed and left ‘empty handed’.
After making our way back to the visitor center (during which we heard a Water Rail calling from the reeds next to us), we enjoyed coffee and juices in the sun, we drove the southern part of the Oostvaardersplassen, on the way making several stops and seeing plenty of Common Terns, one bringing in fresh fish, and some Black Terns as well. In the parking lots we stopped at White Wagtails were present almost everywhere.
On the dried-out flats, far away we could make out some silhouettes of Ringed Plovers and Black-headed Gulls but light was making it difficult to determine other species. We did get a pretty good look at a group of Ruddy Shelducks though. On the other side of the dike large groups of Tufted Ducks and Coots could be seen, as well as some Egyptian Goose families and Great Crested Grebes with young birds.
During the next walk, we visited three blinds, and saw – among other species – Gadwalls, Little Grebe, Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Teal and some large groups of Greylag Goose and small groups of Barnacle Geese. From the last blind we got to see a Marsh Harrier hunting right in front of the blind, and later on it even perched on the ground next to second. Other birds we saw from that place where a hunting Peregrine Falcon and two Green Sandpipers.
Unfortunately, time was up, but saying goodbye at the Amsterdam Hotel, we could look back on a very enjoyable day of birding with some 60+ species.
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Spotted Woodpecker