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This large area to the east of Amsterdam lies on reclaimed land or "polders" in the huge and shallow lake, the Ijsselmeer, which itself was once an inlet of the sea, the Zuiderzee.
Now one of the premier wetland bird sites in northern Europe, Flevoland is a vast, flat and fertile area of mainly cultivated land with lagoons, reedbeds and occasional woodland patches and shelterbelts. Several of the more important areas are now nature reserves.
There are good birds at all seasons with an excellent range of breeding wetland species in summer, huge numbers of passage birds including many rarities and in winter the fields attract thousands of swans, geese and ducks. More than 320 species have been recorded here including rarities such as Pygmy Cormorant and Great Knot. Great Egret and Little Egret and Black-winged Stilt have bred and the first nesting of Melodious Warbler in the Netherlands took place here. Lesser White-fronted Goose and Red-breasted Goose are recorded annually in small numbers. Feral Ruddy Shelduck and escaped Greater Flamingo and Chilean Flamingo are often present.
Oostvaardersplassen is a large lagoon with extensive reedbeds between the towns of Almere and Lelystad. It is one of the most productive areas in summer and is now an important nature reserve. Here is the largest Great Cormorant colony in Europe as well as breeding Greylag Goose, Marsh Harrier and Hen Harrier, Pied Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit and other reedbed species including Eurasian Spoonbill, Great Bittern, Purple Heron and Spotted Crake. Both Great White Egret and Little Egret have become regular breeding species in recent years. Also a breeding pair of White-tailed Eagles can be found in this area.
Passerines nesting here include Bluethroat, Penduline Tit, Bearded Tit and Common Rosefinch and the warblers include Savi's Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Great Reed Warbler and Marsh Warbler. This area can be viewed from the Oostvardersdijk which runs along the north-western side or from hides at Knardijk at the south-eastern end where the visitor centre is located.
Trekvogel, to the west has a car park, trail and hide overlooking smaller areas of water and reedbeds but with similar birds.
Many of these species also breed at Harderbroek to the south which is smaller but still has large areas of reedbed. To the northeast is Harderwijk and just east of here is a woodland with Western Honey Buzzard, Northern Goshawk and Black Woodpecker. All the wooded areas of Flevoland are worth checking for these species as well as Golden Oriole and other passerines including Hawfinch.
In winter the goose flocks can be widely scattered over this large area and can require some searching. For the ducks wintering on the Ijsselmmer the best points to watch from are to the north and west of Lelystad, especially the power station outflow to the north, and the bridge across the Ketelmeer to the east.
The A6 road to Ketelmeer also continues north to Balk on the Friesian coast which also has good watchpoints over the Ijsselmmer and this area generally holds the highest goose numbers. Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Scaup and Smew all occur in large numbers in winter and flocks of Black Tern, usually with one or two White-winged, are seen here on passage.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Great Cormorant, Great Bittern, Little Bittern, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo (escape), Chilean Flamingo (escape), Mute Swan, Bewick's Swan, Whooper Swan, Tundra Bean Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Barnacle Goose, Red-breasted Goose, feral Ruddy Shelduck, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, European Honey Buzzard, White-tailed Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzard, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Merlin, Northern Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Common Quail, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Pied Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Dotterel, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Mediterranean Gull, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Common Swift, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Horned Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Water Pipit, Rock Pipit, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Common Wren, White-spotted Bluethroat, Eurasian Robin, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Common Grasshopper Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Firecrest, Bearded Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Crested Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Penduline Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Great Grey Shrike, Common Jay, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Twite, Common Crossbill, Common Rosefinch, Hawfinch, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting, Little Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Reed Bunting
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Access and Facilities
The area is easily reached by road from Amsterdam via Harderwijk on the A28 which then crosses Flevoland. Lelystad can also be reached from Amsterdam by train.
The towns of Lelystad and Harderwijk have hotel and guest-house accommodation and there is a campsite to the south of Lelystad at Het Oppertje.
A car is necessary to cover the large distances over Flevoland but public transport is good and bicycles can be hired.
Content and images originally posted by Steve
I can only say something about the Oostvaardersplassen area. It is a very fine place to visit in winter as well. Rather reliable for a wintering Rough-legged Buzzard. As much of the area can only be looked into from two vantage points on the southern side, a good scope is advisable! Some interesting mammal herds, though essentially captive.