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  • Writer's pictureMichael Heinz

Birding trip to Texel island

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

During 4 nights in the beginning of June, I was touring the beautiful Texel island in Netherlands to discover the rich bird life the island has in offer.

I travelled by plane from Munich to Amsterdam, and rented a car nearby the capital’s airport. The island can be reached by a ferry starting from the city of Den Helder. The ride takes about 30min, and the whole experience is rather straight forward. Arriving on the island, I went straight to my hotel, called Hotel de Waal, located in the very center of the island. I can fully recommend the hotel, the host was extremely friendly, the hotel very comfortable, furnished with love to detail, and the location in the island centre made it a great start to discover the surroundings.

Center part of the island

I spent the second half of the first day discovering the nearby nature reserve Waalenburg, located as well in the centre of the isle. I stopped at the viewpoint Waalenburg, offering a nice view to a small lake with a little island in it. I was immediately fascinated by the variety of the species I could spot in the lake, like the Pied Avocet, actually the main target species of my trip, as well Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, and Spoonbill, in close proximity unthinkable of for my home area. The viewpoint turned out to be a very nice one even after my full stay, and I enjoyed getting back to it from time to time. It provides the big benefit of being able to reach close to the water surface and hence being able to photograph waterfowl from eye level. Waalenburg is also known as a great spot to photograph the Black-tailed Godwit, which is breeding in the meadows, and I learned that in the morning times there is a great chance to photograph the species on one of the wooden poles. Unfortunately I missed to see this motif. Best time for this picture is the mating season, which had already passed during my stay in June.

I spent the next day discovering the nature reserve Wagejot. This place is mots known for being able to photograph the Pied Avocet. This species (like most other wading birds) has only a very small escape distance on Texel island, which allows to get rather close to the birds. I was thinking about a high key image, which was rather hard to shoot given it was quite windy during actually my entire stay unfortunately. The birds were rather carefully looking after their small chicks, and I had a hard time to get a decent shot with adequate background separation, as the birds were walking up and down closely in front of the banks of the lake. A huge colony of Sandwich Terns is also located in this reserve, a lovely spectacle to watch. I was also visiting the reserves further north of Wagejot, mainly De Bol and De Schorren, but found it not quite suitable to photograph birds due to the distance from the water and hence the subjects.

Southern part of the island

I decided on the third day to head further down the island, and visit the reserves in the South, around the dune area called De Geul. I first came across the lake De Petten. The lake draws the immediate attention of the bird watcher, due to as well a large Sandwich Tern colony. While again this colony is a lot of fun to watch, the distances make this lake not an ideal photography spot. The Mookbai bay located in the area is home to a lot of waterfowl and wide variety of wading birds. Again, the distances for photographs are not ideal. Marsh harriers can be observed when flying over the reed area in the southern part of the bay. Most interesting parts in the South area are the 2 lakes in the Horsmeertjes area. They are well known for their very high density of Bluethroats. The best time to catch them is once again during the mating season, where the male can be observed singing from the top of the bushes. I was lucky that despite being late in June, at least one individual was showing off itself for the camera, and came to a specific place quite frequently, making this a truly great experience.

Northern part of the island

The experience was so great that I decided to also spend much of the 4th day photographing the Bluethroat. The 2nd half of the day, I went into the North of the island. The shores there are also very beautiful, and wading birds can be photographed there as well rather nicely. I found the lighthouse, the huge beach and the cafes located nearby lovely, and spent the evening with an incredible sunset in that place.

I was sad having to leave the island the next day, and am sure that I will come back one day again. The proximity to the wading birds, the tern colonies, as well as the overall beauty of the island impressed me a lot. Only downside to me was that the weather was rather windy during my entire stay, which led to a bit „nervous“ pictures given the waves on the water surface, as well as the sun was shining pretty much all day, giving very had light most of the time, so I could take images mainly at sunrise and sunset only. Next time I will come back I would certainly chose the mating season, as I am expecting some of the birds like the Bluethroat or the Black-tailed Godwit will present themselves in a more active way.


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