For many birds, Saeftinghe is a very important breeding area. During the 1997, 2004 and 2012 breeding seasons, the Dutch part of the reserve was completely surveyed for all breeding birds. In 2012 the herring gulls were found to be the most numerous, with 3113 breeding pairs, followed by redshank, which had 1492 pairs. The reed beds were being used by greylag geese(335p.), marsh harrier(32p.), bearded reedling(200p.), blue throat(293p.), water rail(231p.), sedge warbler(236p.), reed warbler(602p.), savi's warbler(24p.), reed bunting(896p.), grasshopper warbler(32p.) and the spotted crake(6p.). One particularly notable species is the Zitting Cisticola: 14 pairs were identified - the largest population in the Netherlands. The complete report of the 2012 survey is expected at the end of 2013.
Greylag goose with chicks
During winter, large numbers of geese are present in Saeftinghe - predominantly greylag geese. In the 1940s and 1950s, this species only passed through on their migration, with not more than 200 geese overwintering here. From 1975 the number of wintering geese has been increasing; from 1500, to 25,000-40,000 in the 1990's. The numbers increased until 2000 but, since then, a decrease has been observed. This can be explained by the decrease of geese feeding in the surrounding area and by the coverage of clubrush.
Thousands of wigeons are present during winter
The large numbers of wildfowl attracts many birds of prey, including white-tailed eagles and large numbers of roosting marsh and hen harriers in the reed beds. There is also a group of approximately 100 bearded reedling which over-winter in the reed beds, as well as 5000-7000 rock pipits. These pipits live mainly on the very abundant dun sentinel (Assiminea grayana), a small salt marsh snail