Illustration by Dawn Cooper

1. Red-breasted goose, Lauwersmeer National Park

Close-up of a Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis).

Red-breasted goose in Lauwersmeer NP © Ger Bosma/Getty

Spectacular numbers of barnacle and white-fronted geese overwinter here, along with rarities such as the red-breasted goose. Montague’s harriers and golden orioles both breed in the park too.

2. Sand lizard, Hulshorsterzand, Veluwe


Sand lizard in Hulshorsterzand, Veluwe © David Courtenay/Getty

This area of the Veluwe is the most important location for inland sand drifts in Europe and is a great place to encounter sand lizards.

3. Bluethroat, De Groote Peel National Park

A stunning Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) in the grass searching for food.

Bluethroat in De Groote Peel NP © Standbridge/Getty

This unmistakeable, robin-sized songbird breeds throughout much of the Netherlands, but the wetlands of De Groote Peel are an excellent place to start.

4. Black woodpecker, Grenspark de Zoom-Kalmthoutse Heide National Park


Black woodpecker in Grenspark de Zoom-Kalmthoutse Heide NP © Javier Fernandez Sanchez/Getty

A mosaic of habitats make up this cross-border (with Belgium) national park, including pasture and dunes. The coniferous woods surrounding the central heathland area are home to this striking woodpecker.

5. Konik pony, Oostvaardersplassen

Konik Pony-Norfolk Broads National Park-Norfolk-England- Breed originated in ancient lowland farm areas in Poland- Konik means small horse in Polish-Direct descendant of the wild European forest horse or Tarpan that once roamed across Europe and is now extinct-Used widely in Europe to manage wetlands by keeping land open and improve habitat for certain wildlife -Graze on weeds-reeds-rushes and other plants-Conservation grazing projects use these ponies to improve habitat for bitterns-corn crakes-spoonbills and other species

Conic pony in Oostvaardersplassen © John Cancalosi/Getty

‘Rewilded’ hotspot Oostvaardersplassen is 50km2 of wetland, grassland and woodland and home to a range of birds and mammals. Not strictly wild horses, but the semi-feral konik ponies are the nearest we can get today to the extinct European tarpan.

6. Spoonbill, Texel

Eurasian Spoonbill / Common Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) foraging in shallow water, Texel, the Netherlands. (Photo by: Arterra/UIG via Getty Images)

Spoonbill in Texel © Arterra Getty

Part of a chain of islands in the Wadden Sea, Texel is a birding hotspot. The dunes around Mokbaai are home to the Netherlands’ largest colony of spoonbills.