The Holland Dunes, great birdwatching yearround

May 22, 2021 | Best bird spots

The Dunes of Holland are among the best bird watching spots our country has to offer. Extending between The Hague in the south and Den Helder in the north, the region forms a string of beautiful nature reserves. These bird-rich  areas are within an hour’s drive from Amsterdam, The Hague or Rotterdam. The Holland Dunes offer great birdwatching yearround.

The areas show a transition from the wooded inner dunes, to the half-open central dunes with shrubs and flowerings plants, to the open grassy dunes near the sea. The hilly landscape is always beautiful. Blossoms of hawthorn, buckthorn and fields of violets in spring. Golden hues and seas of red berries in autumn. Grey-brown skies or raging clouds in winter. So, each season offers its own birds. But spring and fall migration are most spectacular.

Nightingales reach absurd densities in the dunes. They are so common that in April they often sit in full view in a shrub. Many forest birds otherwise restricted to the east of the Netherlands, breed here. For example, wood warbler, wood lark, tree pipit, crested tit, stonechat, hawfinch, bullfinch, common redstart. Ravens breed in some areas and the mysterious nightjars have returned recently. Black-necked grebes breed alongside little grebes and little ringed plovers in the dune lakes. And in winter, the lakes host wintering ducks. Whereas the shores without the summer guests, are the place to look for snow buntings. In both spring and fall migration, the dunes are full of wheatears and linnets. Whereas ring-ouzels forage in the grass of the outer dunes. The meadow pipit is common everywhere.

Practical information

The areas are great for beautiful walks and bike rides. Most areas are within easy reach by public transport. And (paid) car parks are available at the innermost wooded dunes and by the sea.

The areas are busy in the tourist season and Sundays with walkers and joggers. You, therefore, are wise to visit at sunrise or sunset. Not only are the dunes more private, the clear coastal lights give the landscape a silver lining.

Price indication for a half day including fuel is 65€. For a full day 90€. Prices are lower for larger company. Book a birdwatching excursion or ask for a free offer.

Top of page landscape picture: Vogelmeer (Bird Lake) at National Park Zuid Kennerland, near Haarlem

Black-necked grebe. Photo courtesy @Lars Ursem

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