Practical information about the Netherlands
Grey lag goose. Pixabay free download
Practical information on the Netherlands in a nutshell
The Netherlands is a small country in north-western Europe. It is densely populated, yet big cities are absent. There is still a lot of quiet country-side. Only few areas can be called hilly. Our typical landscape has towns and villages, roads and railroads, meadows with cows in summer, fields, heath and forest. And, last but not least, water. Lots of water. Lakes, canals, rivers, estuaries, and of course, the sea. No Netherlands without the sea.
Water is found everywhere. And so are the birds. The Netherlands is full of birds. And often real close to town.
The Netherlands is a safe place to visit but for some minor inconveniences in tourist areas. The country has excellent infrastructure. This enables you to visit all the good bird watching locations within a maximum of three hour’s driving. And you can even reach many spots by public transport.
The Netherlands is not very expensive nor very cheap. Eating out and hotels are comparatively costly, shops have average prices. All in all, the Netherlands is a top bird watching destination!
When to watch birds
Birds are everywhere and in all seasons. In winter, the country is flooded with geese, swans, ducks and waders from northern Europe. Also, rare song birds visit the coasts. In spring, hordes of waders visit the country on their way north. Meanwhile, the breeding birds take up their territories. The summer is usually quiet, but the southward migration already starts by the end of July. It is a good season to see birds of prey. In autumn, southbound migration is fully active. This is the season to look for rare vagrants from Siberia and the Americas.
The climate in the Netherlands is moist and mild. It is favourable for bird watching. Soaring heat, freezing cold, hurricanes and other natural violence are rare. However, weeks without rain or with continuous sun are also rare. Always consult the weather forecast. Reliable sites are weerplaza.nl and weeronline.nl. And, to avoid an unpleasant surprise by showers, consult buienradar. In general, it is wise to come well prepared and bring weather-proof clothers and shoes.
We have a small country. Within an hour’s driving of our capital Amsterdam you find some of the best bird watching spots. It is easy to rent a car in the Netherlands. Be aware that we drive on the right and have right-hand shift. Automatic transmission is rare but can be found. Most rental cars run on petrol (Am: gas). Public transport is excellent. Trains and buses allow you to reach many good bird watching locations. Consult 9292.nl for all public transport, or ns.nl/reisplanner for train tables only. Both sites are in English and are also available as a mobile app. The Wadden Islands can be reached by regular ferries.
If you book a trip with me, I can pick you up by car in most cases.
Money and paying
You can pay with card everywhere and with your mobile app in many places. For cash money you go to the ATM/Cash dispensers that are common. Most cafes and restaurants expect a small tip, but tipping is not obligatory.
Some more information on birds
The site Waarneming.nl registers daily bird reports by the fanatic and growing army of Dutch birders. The site is in English and many other languages. It is the best site to check the latest rarities. In addition, more and more info is found at the bird site ebird.org. The Netherlands has a fine mesh of bird watching hides and screens. These you can find on Vogelkijkhut.nl. Unfortunately, the site is only in Dutch. However, the site has an interactive map showing all the sites. Using your navigation device or app, you will be able to find most sites without any problems.
Last but not least: bird watching only works with binoculars. Bring your own or let me know you want to use mine! I will bring a telescope as well.