In an area of c. 9000 ha in northern Drenthe, wintering birds were censused during 1994/95- 1997/98. Large-scale arable fields (mainly potato and sugarbeet) in the peat district are bordered by mixed arable land and grasslands in the valley of the Hunze. This area is attractive for a number of wintering species, notably Mute Swan (up to 80% of the wintering population of Drenthe), Bewick's Swan, Bean Goose (both fabalis and rossicus) and White-fronted Goose. Numbers and maximal flock size of Bewick's Swans increased during the study period, highest totals being recorded in January and/or February. In early winter, the birds fed on left-overs on arable land, changing to grassland in the course of the winter. Most Bean Geese fed on arable land. Compared to the 1970s, numbers seemed to have increased in the mid-1990s, but the area used to be underrecorded. The peat district in Groningen and Drenthe belongs to the top five localities for wintering Bean Geese in The Netherlands. Numbers of White-fronted Geese are highest during periods of severe frost, when up to 1% of the flyway population may feed on arable land. Smaller numbers of Golden Plovers (mainly in spring, with up to 1700 birds), Whimbrels (up to 60 in one flock) and Skylarks (in January 1995-98 maximum of resp. 431, 350, 158 and 150 birds/1250 ha), Siskins and Yellowhammers (maximal winter flock size of 100) also highlight the importance of this area.