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2015, January 17th Name of area visited

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Tour date:

2015, January 17th

Name of area visited:

Lauwersmeer, Area created by damming the Lauwerszee.

A trip for ex-pats to get to know the Netherlands, with birds thrown in as a good extra.


Robert de Groot

Remarkable: 2 Goshawks at different locations

Weather: We made maximum use of a window in the weather pattern of the last weeks. Sunny, dry, but a 3 Beaufort wind from SW, temperature about 4° C, windchill made that about freezing. Sleet and snow on the way back.

Species list:

Nederlandse naam

English name

Scientific name


Great Crested Grebe

Podiceps cristatus


Little Grebe

Tachybaptus ruficollis


Great Cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo

Grote zilverreiger

Great Egret

Casmerodius albus

Blauwe reiger

Grey Heron

Ardea cinerea

Wilde zwaan

Whooper Swan

Cygnus cygnus


Mute Swan

Cygnus olor

Grauwe gans

Greylag Goose

Anser anser


Barnacle Goose

Branta leucopsis


Brent Goose

Branta bernicla


(Common) Shelduck

Tadorna tadorna


Egyptian Goose

Alopochen aegyptiacus


(Eurasian) Wigeon

Anas penelope

Wilde eend


Anas platyrhynchos



Anas strepera


(Northern) Pintail

Anas acuta


(Northern) Shoveler

Anas clypeata


(Common) Pochard

Aythya ferina


Tufted Duck

Aythya fuligula


(Common) Goldeneye

Bucephala clangula



Mergellus albellus


(Northern) Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis


(Common) Buzzard

Buteo buteo


(Common) Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus


(Common) Pheasant

Phasianus colchicus



Gallinula chloropus


(Common) Coot

Fulica atra



Haematopus ostralegus


Northern Lapwing

Vanellus vanellus



Arenaria interpres

Bonte strandloper


Calidris alpina


Eurasian Curlew

Numenius arquata


(Common) Redshank

Tringa totanus


Green Sandpiper

Tringa ochropus


(Common) Snipe

Gallinago gallinago


Black headed Gull

Chroicocephalus ridibundus


(Common) Gull

Larus canus


Herring Gull

Larus argentatus


Wood Pigeon

Columba palumbus

Turkse tortel

Collared Dove

Streptopelia decaocto



Meadow Pipit

Anthus pratensis



Erithacus rubecula



Turdus merula


Bearded Tit

Panurus biarmicus


Blue Tit

Parus caeruleus


Great Tit

Parus major


(Common) Starling

Sturnus vulgaris


(Eurasian) Jay

Garrulus glandarius



Pica pica



Corvus monedula

Zwarte kraai

Carrion Crow

Corvus corone



Fringilla coelebs


Reed Bunting

Emberiza schoeniclus







Soorten waargenomen / Species observed

(H) = Alleen gehoord / Heard only


Locations that were visited, in chronological order. Letters in brackets correspond to letters on the map below.

This trip started in Amsterdam, and we used the road via Almere, Emmeloord to reach Joure, where we had a coffee break. From there past Heerenveen and Drachten to the southern end of the Lauwersmeer area. (Start)

We drove around the Lauwersmeer area in a clockwise direction.

Ezumakeeg (A) A low observation hill to the north is where we parked. In the strong wind most birds have moved to sheltered sites. We do see Pintail, Shelduck and Goldeneye. Mute Swans show off, fluffing their feathers and raising their wings. A couple of them take off, the wings can easily be heard. Comparing birds to planes the Mute Swan is at least a Jumbo but probably even an Airbus 380. Two herds of Roedeer are feeding just below the old Sea dike. A total of 20 animals. Later on we see a few more at different locations. A Snipe takes off, and quickly flies out of view. When we start walking towards the hide at the southern end of the road, we see a Buzzard and two Kestrels but also a Goshawk fighting with a Carrion Crow. Both birds are taking risks. Over the open water two Whooper Swans fly past, the yellow patches on the bills are visible with binoculars. From out of the hide we do not see that much, too windy.

Marina Esonstad (B) Short stop. Friendly restaurant staff allow us to use the toilet. Thanks. Next time we’ll plan a cup of coffee here as well! The marina itself only holds some Coot and a single Great Crested Grebe. Black-headed Gulls in winter plumage fly over.

Dam at sea side (C), Driving towards this point we see many, huge, flocks of Barnacle Geese. Lapwing in the Bantpolder, just before the dam. We stop at a small parking at the foot of the dike. From the crest of the dike we look towards Schiermonnikoog. Ameland is also visible in the distance on the left. The ferry from Schiermonnikoog follows its sinuous route through the many gullies. On the mudflats, it is low tide, we see Curlew, Common Sandpiper and some gulls. Redshanks show the white trailing edge of the wings while flying.

Lauwersoog, harbour (D), Many fishing vessels are in port. We see vessels from Harlingen, Urk, Greetsiel, Zoutkamp and Holwerd. On the mudflats we see Oystercatcher, Ruddy Turnstone and Redshank.

Jaap Deensgat, hide (E) Walking towards this hide, from where the car is parked, there is a reedbed to your left. Only two small birds fly over it, but these are Bearded Reedlings. The hut itself is looking out over an area of water and short cropped meadowland. However, at this time of the day, towards the end of the afternoon, one looks into the sun. To the left and right some Swans, Great Egrets.

Hooge Zuidwal, dead end road (F), We park at the gate and start walking. Our approach towards the herd of Konik horses causes some disturbance. The animals move together, split into groups again, and move past us to the more open fields, photo opportunity.

Some fifteen young Scottish Highland cattle are inside a fenced stockade. They really dislike us being there. So we leave again. Great Egret again and a lone Grey Heron is stalking rodents and Mole in a field next to the road.

Baak, observation tower (G), A soggy path leads to this tower. A European Robin flies across the path and hides into the shrubs along it. Once we reach the tower we climb it and have a shot of “Wadwater”, the local liquour. A way to celebrate the nice day out; with a sundowner. The driver (of course) and one client prefer to remain teetotal. Back at the car, we start for Dokkum, where we have a small meal at the Abdij. (End) Then we hit the road towards Amsterdam. Almost immediately it starts raining and within half an hour sleet hits the front window. The flakes of snow slowly start building a thin layer on the tarmac. That gets thicker and thicker so we slow down considerably. Past Hoorn the road is dry again, the sky clears and once we reach Amsterdam everyone can go home on the bike and train without getting wet.

Some background on the area: Paesens- Moddergat. Just west of Lauwerszee. This couple of two sister villages was an important fishing community already in the 16th century. During the night of March 5th to 6th 1883 a disaster happened. During a heavy storm 17 fishing vessels were lost, killing 83 people. A monument has been erected on the dike in 1958, commemorating the victims. The village is still important for fisheries, but their vessels are sailing from the port of Lauwersoog.

In 1953 maintenance of the dikes had not been up to standard for a longer period. Just eight years after WWII rebuilding towns and the economy had priority. During the night of Januari 31st to February 1st, a severe, lasting, storm from the NW combined with a springtide led to a flood that was really disastrous. Over 1800 people were killed. This led to the Delta-plan.

After the flood, always after, the government decided to implement the Delta-plan. All land should be behind dikes or dunes that could withstand a ‘1 in many’-years storm. In the North the dikes along the Lauwerszee posed a risk which could be alleviated by constructing a dam across the bay. In 1969 the name of the stretch of open water turned from …zee to …meer. From sea to lake.

Like all the other dikes and dams, it needed to be high enough to even withstand “the perfect storm”. In the South the estuaries of Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt rivers (Rijn, Maas en Schelde in Dutch) posed problems. The access to the harbours of Rotterdam and Antwerp needed to be kept open. Also the islands needed to be connected to one another, and more areas of fresh water needed to be created for agricultural use and to minimize salt water creeping under existing dikes. The only real problem in the north was the fishing that was done out of Zoutkamp. Building the dam would make the harbour of the town obsolete. Objections against the dam were overcome by constructing a new port at Lauwersoog. It also has an fish auction and several chandlers provide technical and logistical support to the fishermen.

Map of our route

Excursion executed by:

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