Occasionally I also hike on another long-distance trail called the migration birds trail (long distance path 2 in the Netherlands). This path runs from Bergen aan Zee in the west to Enschede in the east of the Netherlands. The route is marked in both directions, so you can also go from east to west.

But bird migration is from north to south (or vice versa) I hear you think, so why is the migration birds trail from west to east? Very simple: you pass through different nature reserves where all kinds of birds live, breed or migrate. So there is a good chance that you will encounter different species of birds. The nature reserves are for example: the dunes near Bergen aan Zee, the grass lands and Waterland in Noord-Holland or the forests of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug and the Veluwe.

The trail is a total of 414 km long and one of the longest trails in the Netherlands. Because I only hike occasionally on this trail, it will take a while to complete. So far I have only hiked two parts: from Bergen aan Zee to Heiloo and from Heiloo to Alkmaar.

The best time to spot birds is during spring or autumn migration. I did not manage to hike a part of the migration birds trail in spring or autumn, because of the corona measurements. For me at this point it is summertime and I am on holiday, so it is a great opportunity to hike a bit of the migration birds trail again.


How plans can change

Today I want to hike from the Boekelermeer in Alkmaar to De Rijp. I’m on my way early, it’s a ride of about two hours, so I’m on the train before half past seven. Before half past seven I can also take advantage of my 40% discount. First I have to take the train to Uitgeest and then take the bus to the Boekelermeer.

The Boekelermeer is a business park located south from Alkmaar. I have chosen to skip the part of the business park itself. The first part of my hike goes through the polder in the direction of Akersloot. At Akersloot I have to take the ferry. In the train I already check the departure times of the ferry. The ferry goes every day, but on the first Tuesday of the month it is taken out of service from 9.30 a.m. to 11 a.m. for maintenance. Unfortunately it is the first Tuesday of the month today!

I check what time I arrive at my destination: 8.30 am. The part to the ferry is not that long so I could make it before 9.30 am. Or I have to get off at the bus stop near the ferry, then I’m sure I’ll make it. But then I would have to skip a part of the trail and I don’t really want to. Suddenly I realise that I can also hike the trail in the other direction. I check how to get to De Rijp by public transport and find out that I can take the bus at Amsterdam CS. Problem solved! Now I don’t have to rush. Hiking is for fun, not to get somewhere on time.


De Rijp and Graft

At a quarter to 9 I get off the bus in De Rijp. I walk through the town with beautiful Old Dutch houses with green and grey facades. There are also several white drawbridges in the town. Just after one of those small bridges I arrive at the Waag. What a beautiful old building this is!

I turn left to go straight through the town. On both sides there are more houses with wooden facades. I keep looking at the houses and my camera is working overtime.

Besides looking around me and taking photos, I am also bird watching. Every kind of bird I encounter during my hike, I tick off on my checklist. I have made a digital checklist on my phone in advance with all species of birds that exist in the Netherlands. Every time I hike a part of the migration birds trail, I record such a list.

This time I came across the following birds:

Birds found between De Rijp and Boekelermeer, Alkmaar (in Dutch)
✔ Bergeend✔ Houtduif✔ Meerkoet✔ Waterhoen
✔ Blauwe reiger✔ Huismus✔ Nijlgans✔ Wilde eend
✔ Boerenzwaluw✔ Huiszwaluw✔ Rietzanger✔ Witte kwikstaart
✔ Brandgans✔ Kauw✔ Roodhalsgans✔ Zanglijster
✔ Buizerd✔ Klein Canadese gans✔ Scholekster✔ Zilvermeeuw
✔ Ekster✔ Kleine rietgans✔ Sneeuwgans✔ Zwarte kraai
✔ Grauwe gans✔ Kokmeeuw✔ Spreeuw
✔ Halsbandparkiet✔ Kolgans✔ Toendrarietgans
✔ Holenduif✔ Krakeend(?)✔ Turkse tortel
I came across these birds with a dark brown head and grey beak (see photo below). Unfortunately I don’t have a better picture. What kind of bird is this? At first I thought it was a krakeend, but after further investigation it looks very different. If anyone knows, leave a comment below in this blog post!


Which kind of bird is this?

After a whole part straight ahead along the beautiful houses I have to turn right through the town of Graft. Here again are the same kind of houses on both sides of the street. I also pass the town hall, another beautiful building. I keep gazing at all the beautiful houses and buildings I come across. Very soon I leave Graft and turn right through the polder.


Noordeinde and Driehuizen

Further on is the next town called Noordeinde. Several bell jar farmhouses are located in this town. During the bus drive in the direction of De Rijp, I came across many of these farms and I immediately fell in love with them. It would be great to live in such a farm.

A bell jar farm is a square farmhouse with a pyramid-shaped roof. These farms are mainly found in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands. In such a farm everything can be found under one roof: living area, hay, cattle, tools.

Source: Wikipedia (in Dutch)

bell jar farm near Noordeinde
Bell jar farm near Noordeinde in the Netherlands

A little further on, I am at the end of Noordeinde. At restaurant De Kleine Haag and ‘t Meertje I turn left and dive into the polder. I have often hiked in the polders of the Green Heart (see my earlier blog about the Tempel trail), but these polders look different somehow. Maybe the reclamation has been done differently. In the distance you can see more bell jar farmhouses. First I walk along ‘t Meertje and at the end of the road the paved path turns into an unpaved path on a dike.

In the meantime, I am still maintaining the birds checklist. I see all kinds of geese in the fields and further away white wagtails are flying in front of me.

The white wagtail is a slender black and white bird with a long tail. The bird is very common in the Netherlands and is mainly found in the countryside. The bird constantly moves its tail up and down.

white wagtail

Sources: Vogelbescherming and Wikipedia (in Dutch).

After a while I have to go over a small fence and via a grass path across the field. I then pass along a bell jar farmhouse.

After the farm I go through the polder again. In the distance you can see the pittoresque church of Driehuizen. At the end of the road I turn left and walk through Driehuizen. The green and grey facades are here as well. It is busy with other hikers, cyclists and cars on this hot summer day. Everyone is very friendly.

I just realize that I illustrated three houses (the name of the town called Driehuizen translates to ‘three houses’ 😁). I am also passing through Driehuizen in no time. I turn right across a small bridge. From the bridge I take one last picture of the pittoresque town. Then I turn left and walk along the canal where several boats are lying in the water.


Mill Strijkmolen K

Along the canal, I go with the bend to the right. Then I have to go over a small fence and walk over a dike with sheep. In the distance you can see the mill called Strijkmolen K. The mill is getting closer and closer.

Next to the mill a number of red-breasted geese are walking in the grass. Also a few goats are sunbathing on an elevation. After the mill the road follows along a number of farms.

I turn left and walk a short distance along a country road at Zuidschermer, then the path turns right on another country road in the direction of the Noordhollandsch kanaal. At the canal I have to turn left on a cycle path. It is now a quarter to 11 and already getting very hot. I also get a headache. I didn’t drink enough water along the way. I have to pay better attention to that on such a hot day. On this part there are not many ‘new’ birds to be seen anymore. At a certain point the cycle path bends to the right and there I see the ferry from Akersloot. It is exactly 11.00 o’clock, I have figured that out perfectly!

A whole chain of cyclists, pedestrians and cars just went across the canal for the first time. I can join right away on the way back and soon I am on the Akersloot side of the canal. Another short hike and I have arrived at my destination.


Last part from Akersloot

After the ferry, I first go straight on, turn left and then right again. I walk along the Oude Knegt windmill. At the end of the road there is a t-junction and there I have to turn right. There I go through the polder again and further on I can see the Noordermolen. Near the Noordermolen I turn right. This last part to the Boekelermeer business park is not very interesting. There aren’t many birds to be seen, I think it’s too hot around noon. The last birds I see are a couple of swallows sitting in the gutter of a house under construction. There are also no more bell jar farmhouses to be seen.

At the Boekelermeer I have to wait half an hour for the bus that will take me to Uitgeest. In the meantime my headache is getting worse and it is an unpleasant journey back. Checklist for next time: more water, cap to keep my head cool and aspirins!


Final thoughts

I thought it was a great hike! I have been gazing at all the beautiful houses, buildings and farms. I also spotted all kinds of birds. Despite the boring last part, it is worth definitely 5 stars! I really enjoyed it.

Trail: Section 3 and Section 2 Long distance trail 2 (in the Netherlands): Migration birds trail
Where: from De Rijp to Boekelermeer at Alkmaar in the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 16 km
Hiking date: 4 August 2020
Materials used in illustrations: Inktense pencils and watercolour paints
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Trail booklet:

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