Birding the Wadden Island of Schiermonnikoog
The island of Schiermonnikoog is the easternmost and smallest inhabited Dutch Wadden island and part of the Unesco World Heritage site. Despite its relatively reduced size, a fantastic day of birding can be almost guaranteed, no matter what season your visit is planned. The reason for that is simple: a day tour around the island offers you a huge variety of habitats, from mudflats to mixed forests, from gardens to dunes, from grasslands to fresh water pools, and from beaches (the broadest of the Netherlands!) to the Wadden- or North Sea coast.
The only village of the island is called Schiermonnikoog as well, and is situated on the western part of the island, in between some polders to the south, and the typical Wadden Sea dunes to the north. The largest fresh water pool of the island, Westerplas, is a magnet for ducks, geese and reed birds, and is home to a small colony of Little Egrets. The beaches west and north of the village are perfect to look for waders, but is also the place for some sought-after winter guests like Lapland Bunting and Shore Lark.
If you prefer a day without seeing too many people, visit the eastern tip of the island (Kobbeduinen and Willemsduin), the place where most of the resident breeding birds can be found.
The crossing from Lauwersoog to Schiermonnikoog will take “only” 45 minutes, and one full day is enough to see the whole island. It’s not allowed to bring a car onto the island, but that’s not a problem (it’s a blessing!); by far the best, easiest and most comfortable way of transportation is a bicycle, which can be rented at different locations on the island. As far as birds are concerned: our guides know exactly where and when to go to have a good chance of seeing a particular species, but to give you an impression,please take a look a the tab “species” below. However, keep in mind that Schiermonnikoog is one of the top birding locations in the Netherlands, and in that matter one might expect the unexpected here; an impressive list of rarities has been recorded on the island, so a visit in promising months might lead to a highly surprising day list.
Just some of the species we hope to see (depending on the time of year):
Breeding birds (may-august)
- Hen Harrier
- Marsh Harrier
- Short-eared Owl
- Little Egret
- Kentish Plover
- Bearded Tit
- Sandwich Tern
(Annual but scarce) migrants/vagrants
- Common Rosefinch (june)
- Yellow-browed Warbler (september, october)
- Richard’s Pipit (october)
- Great Grey Shrike (september, october)
- Firecrest (october)
- Penduline Tit (august)
- Barred Warbler (september, october)
- Little Bunting (october)
- Ortolan Bunting (may, august, september)
- Shore Lark
- Lapland Bunting
- Snow Bunting
- Jack Snipe
- Rough-legged Buzzard
- Black Brant
- Pale-bellied Brant
- Red-breasted Goose