The fields of Groningen, harriers and rails

Jul 15, 2021 | Best bird spots

Harriers in the fields of Groningen

The fields, pastures and wetlands of the province of Groningen and bordering Drenthe offer wide vistas. These landscapes are home to all four harriers. The marsh harrier is the commonest breeder. But the region is the stronghold of the rare Montagu’s harrier. It has recovered strongly since the beginning of the century after decades of dwindling numbers. However, the hen harrier is under threat and only breeds here and on the Wadden Islands.  And since a few year, the eastern pallid harriers shows itself. It may even have started breeding possible forming hybrid pairs with a Montagu’s harrier.

Rare rails in the wetlands of the north

In addition, the region hosts a number of special and rare rails. Bailon’s crake, corn crake, spotted crake all breed in the area. The Zuidlaardermeer area is the best place for black-necked grebes with a few hundreds breeding pairs. While red-necked grebe, little grebe and great crested grebe are also present. In some years Slavonian grebes stay over during the summer. Quails, the threatened grey partridge and yellow wagtails take up the fallow fields in the east of the province. The rare whiskered tern breeds together with small numbers of black-winged stilts and an occasional white-winged tern. In short, the region is one of the most spectacular areas in the breeding season. Groningen, harriers and rails!

In winter, the few domestic hen harriers are supplemented by birds from Scandinavia. Short eared owls roam the fields and marshes near the coast together with merlins, snow buntings, horned larks, Lapland buntings and twites. In other words, the region is also good for birdwatching in winter.

During spring and fall migration the shores and shallows of the wetlands receive hosts of waders.

Price indiation for a half day including fuel is 110€. For a full day 125€. Prices become lower with larger company. Ask for a free offer.

Top of page landscape picture: Groningen fields in spring, Pixabay free download

Marsh harrier Photo courtesy @Lars Ursem

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