Texel, The Netherlands

April 29 to May 2, 2001

Author : Ivan Steenkiste
all pictures © are originals, taken in Texel
photos are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or exploited in any fashion without written permission from the author e-mail: ivan.steenkiste@skynet.be 

GPS coordinates are in WGS84 format

 


Lesser Black-backed Gull

Introduction

My wife and I visited Texel, the most southern part of the Wadden Islands,  a chain of small islands located in the North of The Netherlands.  Texel is about 25 km long and 9 km wide - it is a famous resting place during the migration season but the island also welcomes lots of breeding birds such as Terns, Gulls, Godwits, Oystercatchers, Redshanks, Greylag geese, etc.  In Winter, Texel is known for being a safe reserve for thousands of Brent geese (see further down).

The weather was dry, sunny, with temperatures varying from 15 to 20 °C.


Island of Texel
a barrier island between Waddensea and Northsea


Lighthouse in the north of Texel
coordinates :
53° 10,86' N and 004° 51,12' E

Hotel


Hotel Boschrand - overview

We stayed in the Boschrand Hotel (hotel – restaurant ***; Fam. Boks and Fam. Wassenaar, Bosrandweg 225, NL-1796 De Koog) in the village De Koog.  If interested in reservation, please use their phone number 00 31 222 31 72 81 or fax 00 31 222 31 74 59.  If you want to send an e-mail, use boschrand@tref.nl  --- for more information, visit their site at http://www.ibw.nl/boschrand .  Be sure to reserve well on time as the hotel is almost always fully booked (which is a good reference !).

The hotel is located on walking distance from the center of De Koog, in a quiet area close to the beaches and dunes. The hotel has a large reception area and rooms are very clean and well equipped - the restaurant is comfortable with lot's of space and food is good (extensive breakfast and 4 course evening meal). The lounge has a bar and a large, cosy sitting corner.  The owner and his wife are very helpful and friendly.  There is a private car parking and bikes can be hired.  Rooms are equipped with bathroom, wc, direct-dial telephone, TV and safety box as well as hairdryer.  For GPS users, the coordinates of the hotel are 53° 05,47' N and 004° 45,88' E (WGS84)

We organized our birdwatching trip with the help of the website of the local “Vogelwerkgroep Texel” (Bird Working Group) at http://home.planet.nl/~witte005/rechts.htm (this website informs on their association, the coordinates of the project leaders, activities, year reports, observations, where to look at birds (Vogels kijken op Texel : click on the words “dit overzicht”), checklist, and links).  There is also an English section in this website.  A good colorful map ( http://home.planet.nl/~witte005/overzich.htm ) gives you an overview of all interesting birding sites accompanied by a description of the 19 observations areas.

For information on Texel, please see:

Texel Landscapes


ponds along the Lancaster dike

monument (RAF Lancaster propeller) to remember the many killed WW II air crews at 53° 04,93'N and 004°53,91 E

typical Dutch landscape

nature reserve De Slufter

Finally, The Netherlands would not be The Netherlands without the large colorful flower fields.

 

Traveling

We drove from Belgium to Texel taking highways (toll free) via Utrecht, Amsterdam towards Den Helder.  Rather than using the A9, N9 or N245 from Amsterdam to Den Helder, we took the highway A7/E22 towards Den Oever ( 52° 55,22' N / 005° 02,19' E  ) via Hoorn ( 52° 38,60' N / 005° 01,59' E ) - at Den Oever, turn left towards Den Helder using the N99 and N250.  The advantage of the A7 is that you proceed much faster which is not the case on the N245 (with speed limits of 80 km/h).

Route Planning

When driving at Texel, and you need some nice music in the car, chose Skyradio at 100.7 MH.
Be aware that Texel is very much visited by bike tourists, so be careful when driving as bikers drive left and right on the many single biking roads.

Descriptions / Observations

As we approached Den Helder from Den Oever, there were a lot of Egyptian Geese (15+) on the left side of the road.  While navigating on the ferry to Texel, the boat is accompanied by several gull species.


Lesser Black-backed gull (LBBG)

LGBG and Black-headed gull

Around the lighttower area, we saw Northern Shoveler, Black-tailed Godwits, Shellducks, Herring Gulls, Jackdaws, Black-headed Gulls, Brent geese, Cormorants, Sandwich Terns, Pied wagtail (M.a. yarrellii), Lapwings, Common Gulls, and Avocets.

At the Slufter, we saw some Eiders but due to abundance of tourists walking around, it was rather quiet for birdwatching. A remarkable observation however on April 30 at the Restaurant De Slufter was a White-cheeked Bulbul - the same bird was seen on the mainland at Huisduinen about two weeks later.  Around de Slufter, we saw Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Yellow Wagtail, and Linnet.


White-cheeked Bulbul

A famous spot on Texel is the Zeeburg reserve at 53° 08,83' N and 004° 53,45' E - here, from October until mid May (around the 12th), an estimated 10.000+  Brent geese population is coming in and stays over in Winter time.  A special program was developed to foresee enough grass in order to keep these birds on this spot as much as possible so that they don't hinder (or hinder less) the farmers on Texel.  We observed some ringed species (see pictures below).


the Zeeburg reserve with Brent Geese on the far left


the Zeeburg farm (with our Land Rover)

On these three pictures, you can see the color-ringed markings 

top left: red ring with white 3 left, green ring with 2 right
top right : orange ring left with black 5, yellow ring right with black 9
left : red ring left with 5, green ring right with F

Due to the timing of the year, the mating season was at it highest as illustrated in the following pictures.


mating Black-headed gulls

mating Oystercatchers

mating Common Terns

others prepared their nest such as this Black-headed gull

 


the Waal area 
A very good spot for birdwatching and taking pictures of birds is the Waal area located at 53° 05,20' N and 004° 49,00' E or north of Den Burg at the crossing of De Staart (between posts 5518 and 5517) and the Westerboersweg -- here we saw Redshanks, Ruffs, Godwits, Oystercatchers - a special visitor was a colorfull male Ruff (see 2 pictures below).  In the fields around, we observed one Wheatear and some Sky Larks.


Oystercatcher


Redshank

Black colored Ruff

orange colored male Ruff
the display plumage shows here an erectable crest and ruff which can be in variable combinations of plain or coarsely barred black, deep rufous, orange or white

 


also visible are the warty skin of the face and the usually orange legs


Godwit

 


Wagejot
53° 03, 03' N --- 004° 51, 84' E

In the same area were Tufted Ducks, Gadwalls, and a couple of Spotted Redshanks.


Spotted Redshank (top)

 

 

Down to the south of the island, we saw at Wagejot  three Tern species, i.e. Little Tern, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern; also, many noisy Black-headed gulls, some Dunlins and Great Ringed Plovers.  On April 29th, we saw one Spoonbill.

 

 


Great Ringed Plover


Little Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

Grey Heron in search for food

Greylag Goose adjusting feathers

an elegant Avocet

resting Turnstones
one of them (top of picture) had a metal ring

At the Petten ( 53° 00,67' N / 004° 45,17 ' E ) we saw Oystercatchers, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern,  Redshank, Shellduck, Common Gull, Turnstone,  Common Teal, one Whimbrel, 60+ Golden Plovers, some Egyptian geese, and Brent GeeseAt the Mok ( 53° 00,49' N / 004° 44,83' E ) we observed male Hen Harrier, Eider, and Marsh Harrier.

Conclusion

Texel is really a birdwatching paradise and is almost entirely run as an ornithological reserve and natural park.  Here you can see an undescribable quantity of seabirds and limicolous while the flights of wild geese obscure the sky and fields.  There are beaches, new and old dunes, heaths, wetlands of all types, and extensive mudflats on the Waddensea.


... as free as a bird ...  mastering the seas