Wildlife travel: What animals can I see in The Netherlands?
Its landscape may be flat, but its wildlife certainly isn't. Visit this land of windmills and water to encounter spoonbills in sand dunes and wild ponies in wetlands.
Illustration by Dawn Cooper
1. Red-breasted goose, Lauwersmeer National Park
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
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
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
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.