Belgium doesn’t always jump out at you when considering the best places to birdwatch in the world today. The northern European country doesn’t receive the warm weather of countries in Asia or Africa, meaning many migratory bird species are unique to the region.
Regardless of what can be cold, wet winters, Belgium has a variety of birding locations that offer explorers the chance to see species you may have never glimpsed previously. Although some bird species will head south for winter, Belgium does become home to other migratory birds.
Water birds such as geese flock to Belgium’s North Sea coastal areas during migration. Pink-footed Geese and Greater White-Fronted Geese can be seen around the coast as they arrive from Iceland and spend the winter in the more hospitable Belgian climate.
A variety of geese species are just some of the birds you will see on a birdwatching trip to Belgium.
What is the best bird watching locaiton in Belgium?
1. Uitkerkse Polder
Uitkerkse Polder is situated near the Belgian coast and a town known as Blankenberge. The town is a great central point as there are some nice birdwatching locations around it. Some people simply go to the Blankenberge pier to watch the water birds that land on the shores of the town.
Uitkerkse Polder is considered the top spot around Blankenberge to go birding thanks to its salty meadows. The reserve was created in 1991 and covers around 1,400 hectares. Due to being a threatened environmental area, Belgium is looking to protect the Uitkerkse Polder and the plants and animals in it further.
The reserve is a vital breeding space for birds such as Avocet, Bluethroat, and Marsh Harrier. You will also spot geese at the Uitkerkse Polder. The geese number in the thousands and Pink-footed and White-fronted Geese are common sights. The reserve is closed on Mondays, so plan your trip accordingly to visit Uitkerkse Polder.
2. Zwin Nature Park
Zwin Nature Park welcomes thousands of birds during the wintertime as they escape harsh conditions further north. In the spring and summer, the Zwin Nature Park is filled with bird returning for Belgium’s warmer weather, making the reserve a fantastic location to spot birds year-round. Zwin Nature Park is Belgium’s oldest reserve and was first protected in 1939.
The Zwin Nature Park has been called an “airport” by local bird enthusiasts and a re-fuelling station. It is a crossroads for birds heading north and south and its waterways offer them the chance to eat and rest before moving on.
Birds that can be seen throughout or most of the year include Oystercatcher, Redshank, Greylag Goose, and Little Egret. As the Zwin Nature Park is an area that welcomes migratory bird species, you will see some only at certain times of the year. These include Skylark and Shelduck.
The park isn’t just a great birding site, but a family activity area. It is easy to take the entire family to the park for a day out allowing you to sneak off and spot a few bird species or snap some photographs. One of the most popular spots in Zwin Nature Park is Panorama Tower. Situated on the visitor centre’s patio, you have a 360-degree view of the nature park and its bird population.
3. The Hautes Fagnes-Eifel Nature Park
The Hautes Fagnes-Eifel Nature Park is one Belgium’s eastern border and extends into Germany. The park is one of Belgium’s oldest nature reserve in Belgium having opened up initially in 1960. Eleven years later, the original Hautes Fagnes park merged with the Eifel park to make it far larger in scope. The Hautes Fagnes-Eifel Nature Park is enormous and covers 2,485 sq. km.
The park’s vast landscape and trails make it easy to trek. On treks across the park you will find a variety of bird species that use the trees and highlands of the park for food and shelter. One of the birds that is often seen in the Hautes Fagnes-Eifel Nature Park is the Common Crane. The bird species is an example of the feathered flocks that head inland when migrating rather than resting near the coastal regions.
Once an often-seen bird species in the park, the Black Grouse is now a rare find in the park. You can spot the Eagle Owl as the reserve and its surroundings are a breeding ground. The Meuse River valley is a well-known region for the Eagle Owl.
Zonienwoud is situated near the Belgian capital of Brussels. The area is more than 4,000 hectares of old beech tree forest. Due to the trees and grasses in the Zonienwoud, the forest is perfect for birds that seek the woods for shelter and food.
The Honey-buzzard species breeds in the Zonienwoud and can be spotted on a birding visit. Other birds that can be seen are the Egyptian Goose and Ring-necked Parakeet. The two species are considered Zonienwoud’s “exotic” birds.
One of the bird species you may spot in the Zonienwoud is the Black Woodpecker. The woodpecker is considered an endangered bird species. The park is also home to several endangered mammal species including bats and the Great Crested Newt.
Belgium may not be the first country you think of in Europe to visit for birding, but it is an ideal location for a unique birdwatching experience. Belgium is a beautiful country with a variety landscapes making a birdwatching holiday a fulfilling trip.
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We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!