Our short trip to Holland started with an overnight journey through France and Belgium before crossing the Dutch border just after first light and made good progress towards Maasvlakye where the long staying Longed-legged Buzzard showed well near this massive container port and later joined by a Rough-legged Buzzard.
Having one of our target birds (the other two were Snowy Owl and Sperweruil) under the belt so early in the day set us up to try for the male Bufflehead on the Gaatkensplas at Barendrecht which we had not planned for so all we had to do was double back the way we came though unfortunately some poor map reading on my part meant we left that site heading towards the centre of Rotterdam before realising my error so our journey to the north west coast at Noordwijk – Coepelduynen became a little fraught but after break and a well needed coffee we soon had the Hume’s Leaf Warbler under the belt.
By early afternoon spirits were flagging as most of the crew had been awake well over 36 hours so decided against going for the Snowy and headed east to Zwolle where the Hawk Owl performed well (called Sperweruil in dutch) – a stunning bird and only my second record after one in Finland in 89 then we headed towards our hotel where after a pleasant meal and a few drinks an early night was called for.
The following day started with a revisit to the Hawk Owl at Zwolle then talking to locals we headed for nearby sites for Parrot Crossbill and geese before heading south east towards Netterden for the Brown Shrike (another 2nd) and then Hengelo for Middle-spotted Woodpecker and Short-toed Treecreeper then for the rest of the day we explored the lanes on the south side of the River Waal west of Nijmegen where there plenty of geese and duck to trawl through plus Goshawk and an immature White-tailed Eagle.
Our final day found us out at first light searching the north side near Bremmel which finally paid off with both Red-breasted and Lesser White-fronted Goose found before we had to head south for our return through the chunnel.