Kingdom of Belgium

Blue Tit Parus caerulaus ©Monique Bogaerts Website
Birding Belgium

Belgium is probably not the best country for birding, although there are Belgian Hotspots. You will probably expect flocks of geese grazing the polders, but may be surprised to know that the wooded hillsides in the East of the country can hold Hazel Grouse and Tengmalm’s Owl.

The coastal area (especially of the north) attract over 30.000 Pink-footed Geese (about 75% of the Svalbard-population) and 20.000-35.000 Greater White-fronted Geese every winter. The Damme / Uitkerke polders hold the vast majority of these birds. Most winters also produce a few Red-breasted and Lesser White-fronted Geese. Between the geese you can find Hen Harriers, Short-eared Owls and regular Merlin.

The new harbour of Zeebrugge has become one of Belgium’s top-birding sites. The mixture of industry and wastelands is hardly the most attractive backdrop for a birding visit and access is not always easy, but the rewards can be considerable. Pay a visit to the nature-reserve of the Zwin too; on migration it can be very good.

The west coast can be very productive in the polders with the triangle Diksmuide – Lo – Merkem. For seabirding the west-mole in Nieuwpoort including the reserve of the Ijzermonding and the east-mole in Oostende are an ideal places. It can be good for wader passage too.

In the north of the country you can visit Blokkersdijk – almost in the middle of the Antwerpen left-harbour. The nearby colonies of Mediterranean Gull can hold over 400 birds. Also near Antwerpen you can find the Kalmthoutse Heide, always good for warblers or a Hobby. There is an excellent website for the North of Belgium; that of Walter van Spaandonk (De Wielewaal = ornithological society in Flanders); it gives an agenda of their activities. See the links below.

Closer to the capital Brussels, you can have a great walk in the Zonienwoud, an old beech forest of over 4000ha. Always good for a lot of typical forest birds. Honey-Buzzard breeds there. Near Tervuren (the lakes and the museum) and in the National Garden of Meise you can find our exotics – Egyptian Goose and Ring-necked Parakeet. Apart from the birds of the Zonienwoud, you can get an idea whats on around Europes capital.

In contrast to the west and middle of the country, eastwards you will find great forests – The Ardennes. For the south of the country (French speaking part) AVES is the contact – see below. Stavelot can be the best place to start your trip. Places like Trois-Ponts, Wanne and Logbiermé produce regular Nutcracker (in autumn) and are the breeding ground of Tengmalm’s Owl. Black and Grey-headed Woodpecker occur often.

There is also a walk with very impressive landscape in Hautes Fagnes, between Eupen and Monschau, which is very good. With luck you can see the migration of Common Cranes. Sadly Black Grouse have become very rare in this area. Easier to see is the Eagle Owl, now breeding regularly in several quarries (even those that are still working). The valley of the river Meuse is known for them.

Beautiful walks with some fairly good birding can be had in the surroundings of some great Ardennes rivers like Ourthe or Semois. Places like Bohan, Botassart, La Cuisine and Samree are known for Raven, Black Stork and Dipper. Do not forget, Belgium is also the home country of the European colour-ring Birding website. On this site you can find regular an up-date on the colour-ringing projects in Europe.

A Recent Trip to Belgium concentrated on some birds one cannot see (either at all or easily) in the UK; here is a précis: (Also Lac du Der may well be worth going to.) Ethe: Hazelhen, Hawfinch, black & middle-spotted woodpeckers. Eupen: Grey headed woodpecker Logbierme: Tengmalms owl in nest boxes and birds heard calling after dark. [Do not disturb nestboxes without permission from locals]. Nutcracker here too.

Contributors
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 456

    (As at July 2018)
Checklist

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • Birds of Belgium and Holland

    (MP3 Sound Collection) | Peter Boesman | Birdsounds Netherlands | 2011 | Audio CD | Runtime 15 hours | ISBN: #197194 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Where to Watch Birds in Holland Belgium & Northern France

    By Arnoud Van Den Berg & Dominique Lafontaine | Stackpole Books | 1998 | Paperback | 216 pages, Colour & b/w illustrations, maps | ISBN: 0811731111 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Useful Information
  • National Bird

    Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Organisations
  • AVES asbl societe d'etudes ornithologiques

    Website
    Leading French language site
  • Antenne régionale RNOB - Famenne & Ardenne

    Website
    Regional group
  • Belgian Rare Birds Committee (BRBC)

    Website
    Welcome on the BRBC website. The rumour has been out for a while and now it has finally materialised: the new Belgian rare birds committee is a fact! The new committee formally called the Belgian Rare Birds Committee (BRBC) is placed under the auspices of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science (KBIN/IRSNB), Natuurpunt Studie and Aves-Natagora. The BRBC will be operational from January 2015 onwards.
  • Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)

    Website
    The INBO carries out research that is essential to governmental policy and provides scientific support for conservation, development, management and sustainable use of biodiversity and its environment. It publishes the two-yearly Nature Report, which evaluates the state of nature and relevant policy efforts in Flanders…
  • Kerkuilwerkgroep Vlaanderen

    Website
    Eind van de jaren `70 stond de Kerkuil (Tyto alba ) op de Rode lijst van de met uitsterven bedreigde diersoorten in Belgi
  • L'antenne régionale Centre-Ouest Hainaut

    Webpage
    Our region covers a territory composed of entities of La Louviere, The Roeulx, Mons Quévy, Frameries, Quaregnon Saint-Ghislain, Boussu, Colfontaine, Dour, Honnelles, QUIEVRAIN, Hensies, Bernissart Péruwelz, Beloeil, Jurbise, Lens.
  • Les Reserves Naturelles et Ornithologiques de Belgique

    Webpage
    Rue Royale, Sainte-Marie 105, B-1030 Brussels +32 2 245 43 00 willem.nr@bitserve.com
  • Natuurfonds Westland

    Website
  • Natuurpunt Schelde-Leie

    Website
  • Natuurpunt Bree

    Website
    Birding in Bree
  • Natuurpunt De Buizerd

    Website
    Natuurpunt De Buizerd is actief in Izegem en Ingelmunster. Een team van gedreven vrijwilligers maakt daar werk van meer en betere natuur. Wil je graag meewerken? Heb je iets te melden? Laat het ons weten.
  • Natuurpunt Gent

    Website
    Natuurpunt Gent is een regionale natuurvereniging voor Gent en Sint-Martens-Latem. Samen met meer dan 3800 gezinnenleden maken wij werk van meer natuur voor iedereen. Meer dan 160 lokale vrijwilligers zetten zich dagelijks in voor het beheer van natuurgebieden, een sterke beleidswerking, een onovertroffen verenigingswerking…
  • Natuurwerkgroep De Kerkuil

    Website
    Vereniging voor agrarische natuur en landschap in regio IJzer en Polder…
  • Vogelbescherming Vlaanderen

    Website
    Vogelbescherming Vlaanderen is een vereniging zonder winstgevend doel die zich inzet voor alle in het wild levende vogels en andere dieren. Ze werd op 28 juni 2002opgericht te Antwerpen en is door de Vlaamse overheid erkend als Gewestelijke Thematische Natuurvereniging. Wij heten je hartelijk welkom op onze website.
  • Vogelwerkgroep Cinerea

    Facebook Page
    Mission - Het promoten van interesse in en het onderzoek naar vogels van de Dendervallei.
  • Vogelwerkgroep Fruitstreek

    Website
    Welkom op de site van Vogelwerkgroep Fruitstreek…
  • Vogelwerkgroep Noord Oost-Vlaanderen

    Webpage
    U bevindt zich op de gloednieuwe website van de Vogelwerkgroep Noord Oost-Vlaanderen. Deze website zal zoveel mogelijk bijgewerkt om u op de hoogte te houden van de vogelpopulaties in onze streek. Hieronder vindt u het meest recente nieuws i.v.m. onze werking… Véél surfplezier!
  • Vogelwerkgroep Noord-West-Vlaanderen

    Website
    Vorig weekend werd een nieuwe nestbak voor 'onze' Slechtvalk geplaatst op de toren van de Sint-Salvatorskerk. Een 5-tal spotters werd onder leiding van Guido Orbie en Guy Robrecht naar boven geleid
  • Vogelwerkgroep Noordwest-Brabant

    Website
    Welkom op het webstekje van Natuurpunt Vogelwerkgroep Noordwest-Brabant
  • Vogelwerkgroep Zuid-West Vlaanderen

    Website
    The South of the Province of West-Flanders in Belgium has a very active birding club. The Vogelwerkgroep Zuid-West Vlaanderen's website is in Dutch with many pictures, trip reports and information on recent observations in the Kortrijk area.
  • la Ligue Royale Belge pour la Protection des Oiseaux

    Website
    La Protection des Oiseaux belge (officiellement la Ligue Royale Belge pour la Protection des Oiseaux asbl) est une association de protection de la nature nationale qui fut cr
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • Birdwatching Sites in Belgium

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Links to a number of pages for different birding places
  • Hesbaye Refuges

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Ce site est une réalisation du Groupe de protection et de développement de la nature en Hesbaye et du Siajef, Entreprise de Formation par le Travail.
  • NP Hoge Kempen

    InformationSatellite View
    The habitat is mostly coniferous trees and heath land. There are some deciduous trees, dunes, marshes, streams, dry valleys, ponds, gravel pits and former mine spoil heaps. Typical flora and fauna include juniper; gorse; bell heather; sweet gale; club moss; asphodel; dragonfly; silver studded blue butterfly; swallow tail butterfly; Granville fritillary butterfly ; Moor frog; Natterjack toad; Smooth snake; Common lizard; Brook Lamprey; Black woodpecker; Nightjar and Roe deer.
  • NPa Eifel

    InformationSatellite View
    The nature park lies between Langerwehe and Eupen in the north and Bad Münstereifel, Prüm and Sankt Vith in the south and covers six regions: the Rur Eifel, the High Eifel, the Limestone Eifel, the Our valley, the Venn Foreland and the Hohes Venn, a raised bog and heath landscape, remnants of the last ice age.
  • NPa Provinciaal Natuurpark Zwin

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Welkom op de website van het Provinciaal Natuurpark Zwin in Knokke-Heist…
  • NR Uitkerkse Polder

    InformationSatellite View
    ...the area is perhaps most known as an outstanding wintering area for thousands of waders, ducks and geese (Pink-footed Goose, White-fronted Goose…). Up to 90% of the entire Svalbard population of Anser brachyrhynchus winters in the Oostkustpolder, i.e. the area between Ostend and Knokke-Heist in which the Uitkerkse Polder plays an important role.
  • NR Zwin

    InformationSatellite View
    Zwin has an area of 1.25 square kilometres in Knokke-Heist, Belgium and 0.33 square kilometres in Sluis, Netherlands. It is famous for its large variety in salt-resistant flora, such as sea lavender. It is also popular with bird watchers. There is a small zoo with some major domestic birds and it is one of the few places in Belgium with a population of white storks. In March 1986 it was declared a Wetland of International Importance
  • Wetlands

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Belgium currently has 9 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 46,944 hectares.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Natuurpunt Bree

    Forum
    Wild Life spotting forum
Trip Reports


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • 2010 [05 May] - Mark E P Hows

    Report
    Once again I embarked on a trip to see some of Europe's exotics and a couple of resident species (though only a few as information was very hard to come by)…
  • 2012 [08 August] - Mark Hows

    Report
    With a wealth of wildlife just over the channel it was time for another foray, this time mainly for Amphibians but a few other bits and bobs….
  • 2016 [03 March] - Gerald Broddelez

    PDF Report
    ...Unfortunately the weather had changed a little overnight,so we walked the trails in the nearby forests in liquid sunshine. Woodpeckers were keeping a low profile,but from a viewpoint we saw several Buzzards, Yellowhammer, Nuthatch, Goldcrest,and finally several Hawfinches both perched and in flight...
  • 2016 [07 July] - Gerald Broddelez

    PDF Report
    After this,we tooka short stroll throughthe saltbush vegetation and,although it was warm,we all had good views ofa Reed Bunting, male Linnets, Stonechat, Whitethroat and displaying Meadow and Tree Pipits, Sedge Warbler and singing Skylarks
  • 2017 [02 February] - Gerald Broddelez

    PDF Report
    ...We then drove to the Wanne area. Enroute we stopped for our first Great Grey Shrike and close up views of Crested Tit and Firecrest. Once at the site,we quickly found more Great Grey Shrikes perching on the top of dead trees,allowing great telescope viewsas we werewatched by Roe Deer.A short walk then took us to a few tiny patches of beech forest. Here a couple of Black Woodpeckersput on a great show for us. Large groups of Bramblingand Chaffinch allowed great views...
  • 2017 [07 July] - Gerald Broddelez

    PDF Report
    ...Belgium in SummerTour Report2© Naturetrek August 17With the sun shining a good part of the time we found 16 species including Small Emerald, Ruddy and Scarlet Darters, Dainty and Red-eyed Damsels,Scarce Chaser and Norfolk Hawker. Surprise of the day however was a Bittern that Nigel found at the edge of the reedbed; a rare breeding bird and always hard to see. Golden Orioles kept us entertained in the wooded parts. Butterflies included the rare Map, several skippers, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell...
Places to Stay


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • La Ferme de l'Airbois

    Accommodation
    Just a 2 hour and 35 minute drive from Calais, set in 60 acres of unspoilt countryside, you will find our beautiful old farmhouse. Overlooking the River Meuse, it boasts en-suite luxury accommodation, a heated swimming pool and traditional French cooking. Skilled guides (including your host) will lead you, based on the latest sightings, to the best bird sites of the Ardennes and South Belgium, where you can see up to 25 species, which are now rare or absent in the UK
Other Links
  • Breeding Birds Monitoring

    Information
    Research Institute for Nature and Forest, BirdLife Flanders…
  • Migration

    Website
    Tracking migration in Belgium and Holland
  • Natuurbeleving

    Website
    Deze database bevat momenteel informatie over 326 vogels van West-Europa. We stelden de lijst samen aan de hand van de verspreidingskaartjes uit verschillende vogelgidsen.
  • Natuurpunt

    Website
    Daily Journal, Trip Reports etc.Migration: Eind juli reeds vangen bepaalde vogels hun trek naar het zuiden aan. In augustus zijn er al heel wat meer die zich aan de lange tocht wagen. September en oktober zijn de maanden waar de resterende species onze contreien verlaten voor een periode van ongeveer 5 tot 6 maanden. Some of this site is available in English.
  • Natuurpunt

    Website
    Vereniging voor natuur en landschap in Vlaanderen
  • Natuurpunt Bocholt

    Website
    Local birding, forum, Photos etc
  • Vivara

    Website
    Welkom bij Vivara Natuurbeschermingsproducten - Bienvenue sur le site de Vivara
  • Vogelbescherming Vlaaderen

    Website
    In deze rubriek kan je de actualiteit in verband met vogels en vogelbescherming op de voet blijven volgen. Belangrijke gebeurtenissen en leuke anekdoten worden in deze rubriek ondergebracht. Als je wilt weten waarmee Vogelbescherming Vlaanderen zich zoal bezig houdt, dan moet je af en toe maar eens in deze rubriek komen kijken
Blogs
  • Young Belgian Birder

    BLOG
    Last updated 2010! I'm a young Belgian birder and I'm especially interested in pelagic bird and cetacean. In Belgium (and northern France) I bird almost exclusively on the coast : seawatching, watching/counting spring migration and searching for rare birds…
Photographers & Artists
  • Digiscoping & Digital Birding

    Gallery
    These pages focus on the technical aspects of digiscoping, a recent technique based on the coupling of a digital camera and a scope. This work has been contributed by many photographers around the world, including Yves Leduc (Canada) - who kindly allowed me to reproduce his notes on the concept - See his website at: http://www.digiscoping.ca/index1.html Ann Cook and Laurence Poh, co-moderator of the Birds-pix mailing list. Other contributors are very welcome! A french text (with its original content) has also been written in close collaboration with Jean-Yves Piel (Egypt); Yves Leduc (Canada); Alain Foss
  • Photograper - Pierre Nowosad - Birds In Flight

    Gallery
    Just as it says
  • Photographer

    Gallery
    Bird Photography, Birding
  • Photographer - Cedric Willekens

    Gallery & Blog
  • Photographer - Dany's Wildlife Photography

    Website
    Nature in close-up
  • Photographer - Michael Van Bosch - Time Smuggler

    Gallery
    Photos of birds from Belgium and around the world…
  • Photographer - Monique Bogaerts

    Gallery
    My photographic vision is to capture the beauty of wildlife and nature, and to share it with others through still images. Although I enjoy creating images of all things found in nature, being a lover of birds and other wild animals. Driven by passion and the search for natural beauty I want to show you my galleries
  • Photographer - Nathalie Annoye - Lueurs Sauvages

    Website
    Toutes les images sont réalisées en milieu naturel, dans le plus grand respect des sujets. Les photos de ce site ne sont pas libres de droit et sont la propriété exclusive de l'auteur. Je vous souhaite une agréable visite…
  • Photographer - Nicolas Rasson - Naturasson

    Gallery
    Le site de deux passionn

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