The participants:

Our group included the following birdwatchers: Francois, Martine et Segolene Thommes, Norbert Lefranc, Denis Vein and his wife, Philippe Sornette, Lulu and Marie-France, Jean-Yves Moitrot and Robert Lecaille and a few others whose names I have unfortunately forgotten.



We were accommodated in Youth Hostels in Oldebroek, south-west of Zwolle, and in Grouw. The address of the latter Youth Hostel was:

"Oer 't Hout" Raadhuisstraat 18 9001 AG Grou(w) Holland.

These hostels were very comfortable and had opened just for us.

The trip

We took that trip in 1981, between Christmas and New Year. We left from the French province of Lorraine, drove across Belgium to Hilversum (east of Amsterdam), then visited Flevoland going through Almere Haven and Lelystad. After this, we drove northward and visited Friesland: Lauwersmeer, Lauwersoog harbour, Sneek, the northern dyke of Ijsselmeer between Zurich and Den Oever, then Den Helder. On our way back home, we went through Flevoland and Zeeland again. It was very cold that year and even the sea had frozen.


Main birds observed

12 Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) right in the middle of Hilversum. I remember a lot of my friends felt envious because they hadn't seen them. East of the Lauwersmeer, a few Horned Larks (Eremophila alpestris) and Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis). In Sneek, a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) was fishing in the town centre, which was something new for us at that time in France. In Zurich, a migrating Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) fell into the sea and was eaten by an immature Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) in the following seconds. In Den Helder 3 Purple Sandpipers (Calidris maritima) and one Red Knot (Calidris canutus) made several of us very happy. Those were the good days ... In Lelystadt a Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus) enabled us to get acquainted with this species. In Versmeer we met a Dutch birdwatcher whose name was Henk Baptist who guided us to Barland where we saw 13 Snow Geese (Anser caerulescens), in the dark phase ("Blue Goose"). Henk told us they were not escaped birds. There were also 20 Twites (Carduelis flavirostris) and a Merlin (Falco columbarius).

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