Tour At A Glance





Single Room Supplement:


Tour Code:

Relaxed, with little walking.

Group Size:

Six plus Leaders

White-tailed Eagle Smew Pink-footed Geese

The Netherlands - Wild Goose Chase

Date: 3rd - 7th December 2018
Leaders: Ashley Saunders & Marcus Nash



The tour meets at Amsterdam Schipol Airport mid morning following your morning flight from your regional UK airport [included in your tour cost]. From there we make our way thorugh the traffic and head out across the causeway over the Ijsselmeer to the north-east polder, where we will make a birding stop to break the journey and look for our first big flocks of Barnacle and Greenland White-fronted Geese. As dusk approaches, hunting Hen Harrier, Merlin and Northern Goshawk are often around, too, and we should also see some huge flocks of diving ducks, grebes and possibly Smew on the meer. We arrive after dark at our hotel near Groningen.
Overnight Hotel Spoorzicht. 
After breakfast this morning we head out into the polders for more goose-watching in countryside reminiscent of the Norfolk Broadswith its wide open landscapes punctuated by the occasional windmill and small villages. It is hard to describe the sheer numbers of birds in this rich wetland habitat and we will encounter vast flocks of Northern Lapwing, European Golden Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Ruff, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye and of course more geese including our first Pink-footed Geese and there is always a chance of a rarer species being present. Huge numbers of Common Gulls, Grey Heron, Common Starlings and corvids are also present and every fence post  seems to have its own resident Common Buzzard and Common Kestrel, while careful scanning may reveal a passing Hen Harrier, Northern Goshawk or even Rough-legged Buzzard. These raptors can send the huge congregations of birds skywards in spectacular fashion.  Flocks of Eurasian Wigeon and small herds of Whooper Swan may also be encountered, while dykes will be checked for Great White Egret and Smew. As dusk approaches and the skies fill with flocks of geese heading to roost, we make our way back to base. 
Overnight Hotel Spoorzicht
We spend the whole day  exploring the exceptional birding area known as The Lauwersmeer. We will visit several sites within the general area, many of which are off the beaten track as we search for the feeding flocks of geese.The numbers of birds involved has to be seen to be believed, especially Barnacle Geese which are present in uncountable numbers and we can also expect to see good counts of Greylag and Dark-bellied Brent Geese, as well as Greater White-fronted and perhaps Pink-footed Geese. Inevitably rarer species such as Red-breasted, Black Brant, Taiga Bean, Lesser Canada, Snow and Lesser White-fronted Geese are found annually, but the mobile nature of the birds and the expanse of habitat means we will need good fortune to encounter any of these, but we will have no difficulty in enjoying the spectacle of enormous numbers of Northern Lapwing, European Golden Plover and Eurasian Curlew. Small flocks of trumpeting Bewick’s Swans and a few Whooper Swans add a special atmosphere to the marshes and large numbers of wildfowl can be seen at various around the meer, which may include Goosander, while Great White Egrets stalk the reed fringed shallows.The small harbour at Lauwersoog should hold a few Snow Buntings, while Red-breasted Merganser and Common Eider should also be present. Occasional Lapland Bunting and other sea duck may also be present. On the mud flats of the Wadden See, large numbers of Northern Pintail, Common Shelduck and European Oystercatcher are present along with smaller numbers of Common Redshank and perhaps a Pied Avocet or two. Raptors are also well represented and it would be no surprise to see several Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard and Common Kestrel, while Merlin, European Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier and the mighty White-tailed Eagle may take a little more searching for. Wooded areas should hold flocks of winter thrushes, roving tit flocks may include Willow Tit and Goldcrest, congregations of finches should produce Brambling, Common Redpoll and Hawfinch. Our final stop offers a panorama of the marshes at sunset as Eurasian Woodcock emerge and goose flocks head to unseen roosts. 
Overnight Hotel Spoorzicht

Following breakfast, we check out and explore the Garrelsweer where some of the largest concentrations of geese are sometimes present and we will scan carefully in the hope of finding something unusual, but appreciating the spectacle of so many birds! We then begin our journey south through Groningen and take the motorway towards Zwolle, stopping for any interesting species along the way such as Long-eared Owl, Bohemian Waxwing, Great Grey Shrike and Common Crane. The forests at Dwingelderveld are a good place to see many woodland birds, includng Crested, Marsh and Willow Tits, Short-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest andpossibly Lesser Spotted and Black Woodpeckers. We arrive in Flevoland after lunch, and we will head for the coast of the Markermeer and the Oostvaadersplassen and begin searching the seaward side of the dyke for large congregations of diving ducks. Along this route, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard and Great Crested Grebes are present in enormous numbers, while smaller numbers of Common Goldeneye may also be seen. Raptors are again well represented with Hen Harrier and Peregrine likely and Rough-legged Buzzard possible. Small numbers of Whooper Swan frequent the pools and Great White Egret are again present in the channels and we finish the day with one of the highlights of the tour, where  a small lake holds sizeable numbers of Smew and Goosander which can often be seen at close range. We may also encounter Bearded Tit, Water Rail, Willow Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper here. We make the short drive back to our modern, yet comfortable hotel in Lelystad before dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Overnight Apollo Hotel Lelystad.
Following breakfast and checkout, we will  again spend time around the Oostvadersplassen before transferring to the airport for the afternoon flight back to the UK. 


Additional Information


Both hotels are of a very high standard with en suite rooms with internet access available. At the Hotel Spoorzicht in the quaint Friesland village of Loppersum, we offer superior rooms and excellent food served in a traditional setting. Hotel Apollo in Leylstad is in the centre of town but retains the ambience of a small hotel despite its modern spacious rooms and wide range of facilities.
Four nights dinner, bed and breakfast in en suite rooms, return economy class flights UK/Amsterdam including 20kg luggage allowance, all meals from dinner on day one to lunch on day five, minibus transport in The Netherlands, service of leaders and reserve entrance fees. 
Travel to/from UK airport and any additional overnight stays that may be involved, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.



Tour Reports


2008   2010




" A really enjoyable trip despite the freezing conditions " V R & P L Hertfordshire