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Spare day in Holland - suggestions please! (1 Viewer)


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The wife and I will be in Holland/Germany for the first week of April this year, driving from Amsterdam to visit family and friends in Groningen and Bielefeld.

I appreciate the timing may not be ideal for birding, but I would like some suggestions for somewhere to visit for a few hours to break up the journey between Amsterdam and Groningen - looking on google maps it seems that we have the option of either the A6 or A7 for our journey, and we are tending towards the latter for the novelty factor of driving over the sea, as well as some potentially interesting looking habitat around Sneek (?).

I don't have any specific targets in mind as I don't think there are any new birds I could see (save for some vagrant), but if there was any chance of e.g. a nice wetland with chance of Crane/Spoonbill/Bluethroat/harriers/Geese that would probably fit the bill - open to any and all suggestions though!

Thanks in advance.​
Always start everything with Waarneming.nl

Spoonbill should be readily available at many sites in Noord-Holland – I would think that a combination of De Petten north of Schoorl with a short stint at Het Zwanenwater (to add Bluethroat) near Callantsoog will be successful. This is along the A9/N9 a bit west of your route.
Even closer to the A7 is the Dijkgatsweide which also will hold Spoonbill and a few Bluethroats. It's not as scenic as the previous two spots.

Just south of the Afsluitdijk the former island of Wieringen sports many Dark-bellied Brent Geese: the flocks may contain the two other varieties. The saltmarsh at Den Oever is nice at higher tides when the birds are visible.

Heading into what the northern birders call "Top of Holland", north of the Afsluitdijk south of Harlingen there are some pools along the N31 which are quite popular with birders. I think I always just drive by on my way to the ferry...
For Crane, you'd have to head for the Fochteloërveen (other moorlands are available, locations may be hidden) and have some luck. Probably a good chance of Bluethroat again. Too early for Short-toed Eagle.

I don't think there's much of interest on the lakes in Friesland (around Sneek), despite their apparent attractiveness on the maps.
It is probably a bit early for the Zuidlaardermeer on Groningen's doorstep. The Lauwersmeer is a bit of a detour but if the water levels are good this would probably be better than any of the previous sites.

For sites in Friesland/Drente, you could ask TheDutchbirder here on Birdforum... I don't think many people know the area better than him.
Be careful as all of the good advice above is enough to fill half a week!

As you mention you would have only some hours, you can either rush through a lot of places (stop less than 30 minutes at each site), or concentrate on 1.

If you (or your OH) are into sightseeing, the Northern route is still very OK and probably more interesting than the A6 route (passing by some old villages like Volendam, Bolsward, Sneek, windmills at Zaanse schans etc.).
If your stop is nature orientated, I would rather go for only one stop, e.g. Lauwersmeer, and drive the shortest way to tere. It's a detour of approx. 50 minutes on your total travel time, but driving through Friesland is pretty stress-free, and the whole region, with Ezumakeeg, Moddergat and the Wadden has, for me, most appeal.

I would personally not drive along the A7 just for the driving-over-the-sea experience, as the A6 route also has a lot of water on the way (big bridges, driving through big lakes), so I wouldn't rate that experience to highly.
Thanks @temmie and @Dortmundbirder We will have a look this evening and decide what to do - it seems likely it will only be a half day (at best), but as we are mostly visiting OH family and friends, I've hopefully got some birding brownie points to cash in!
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