9th Migratory Bird Days in the Wadden Sea National Park of Lower Saxony

14–22 October 2017

The Wadden Sea is an important stopover for birds along the East Atlantic Flyway. Millions of migratory birds use the North Sea’s coastal wetlands as a roosting and feeding area. Every year in autumn, they pass through the Wadden Sea on their journey from their Arctic breeding grounds to their wintering areas in West Africa. In spring, they return and restore their energy reserves. As it is considered one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world, the UNESCO inscribed the Wadden Sea on the World Heritage List in 2009.

The annual Migratory Bird Days – nine days in autumn dedicated to migratory birds and bird migration – are held along the German coast from the Dutch border to the Elbe River and on its seven inhabited islands from Borkum to Wangerooge. The programme offers a variety of more than 200 public events, which are entertaining, playful, thoughtful, artistic or culinary – and therefore appeal to everyone in one way or the other! For example, you could take part in a field trip to the best birding spots by foot, bike or boat, go to a concert or theatre play or learn more about feathers during a workshop.


Some examples of the programme as well as further information on the children’s drawing contest can be found below. Each event listed is accompanied by an English-speaking guide. If you have any questions about the events listed below or would like to find out about further events, please contact the organisers. For general information on the Migratory Bird Days, please contact the Wadden Sea National Park Authority in Lower Saxony at poststelle@nlpv-wattenmeer.niedersachsen.de.


Experience the fascinating world of bird migration in the Weser River estuary

The Nordenham Youth Hostel is located along the banks of the Weser River and offers several possibilities to experience bird migration “on its doorstep“. It is also a perfect starting point to explore the region of Butjadingen. This peninsula offers a variety of events during the Migratory Bird Days: great birdwatching spots near salt marshes, mud flats, the Weser River and marshes, a Migratory Bird Party in the national park visitor centre and museum in Fedderwardersiel, specialist lectures and a lot more. Furthermore, you can take part in a special tour to the Strohauser Plate, an island in the Weser River, where access is permitted only for guided tours due to nature conservation purposes. Come and experience the fascinating bird migration during an extended weekend, accompanied by the ornithologist Dr. Kai Pagenkopf. There will also be enough time to go on a birdwatching tour on your own.

Please book by the 6th of October at the latest via email (nordenham@jugendherberge.de) or phone (+49 4731 88262). The number of participants is limited to 10, so that we can individually cater to your needs and interests. The youth hostel aims to provide mainly sustainable products such as fair trade coffee and organically and locally grown produce and organises a veggie day once a week with a variety of vegetarian meals. The entire youth hostel is fully accessible.

Date: from 13 October 2017, 17.30 hrs, until 16 October 2017, 12.00 hrs
Organiser: Nordenham Youth Hostel, National Park Museum and Visitor Centre Fedderwardersiel
Meeting point:
Jugendherberge Nordenham
Strandallee 12
26954 Nordenham
Fee: starting at 209 € for guests older than 27 years and at 197 € for guests younger than 26 years, depending on the number of participants (single room or double room, full board, including programme and transfer)
Equipment: rubber boots, rainwear, solid walking shoes, binoculars, camera
Download: Programme


Bird observatory at the mudflats in Varel – migratory birds from a different perspective

The bird observatory, specifically constructed for the Migratory Bird Days, has already become a well-known attraction. It is located right at the mudflats at Varel’s harbour and provides spectacular views over Jade Bay. It is the perfect spot to watch migratory birds in the foreshore and on the mudflats. The majority of birds is near the observatory three hours before high tide; this is therefore the best time for birding. Ornithologists will be present daily from 10 am to 6 pm and provide you not only with a pair of binoculars and spotting scopes but also with information about the birds and their migratory behaviour, the national park and Jade Bay.

The path leading to the observatory is bumpy, the observatory platforms can only be reached via a steep staircase, the observatory is therefore not accessible for people with physical disabilities.

14 October 2017, 10.00–18.00 hrs
15 October 2017, 10.00–18.00 hrs
16 October 2017, 10.00–18.00 hrs
17 October 2017, 10.00–18.00 hrs
18 October 2017, 10.00–18.00 hrs
19 October 2017, 10.00–18.00 hrs
20 October 2017, 10.00–18.00 hrs
21 October 2017, 10.00–18.00 hrs
22 October 2017, 10.00–18.00 hrs
Meeting point:
Vareler Außentief (harbour exit)
26316 Varel
Google Maps
Organiser: Wadden Sea National Park Authority of Lower Saxony
Equipment: rainwear, solid walking shoes, binoculars
Fee: free of charge


Birding field trip to Spiekeroog’s east end

The east end of the island of Spiekeroog develops naturally without any human impact. Explore this special landscape and learn a lot from former volunteers who worked here and therefore know the region like the back of their hand.

During the field trip, we will walk several hours on uneven terrain. Warm clothing and rubber boots are necessary, they can be rented in the National Park Centre Wittbülten. Please bring your own pair of binoculars, spotting scopes and a bird guide, if possible. Unfortunately, this trip isn’t suitable for persons with reduced mobility.

Date: 14 October 2017, 11.00 hrs (half-day session)
Meeting Point:
Nationalpark-Haus Wittbülten
Hellerpad 2
26474 Spiekeroog
Organiser: National Park Centre Wittbülten
Fee: free of charge


Tracking the food of migratory birds from aboard the motor vessel ”Harle Kurier“

During this show-fishing trip we will have a look at what migratory birds feed on by taking samples of some of their prey. Experts from the Wadden Sea Visitor Centre in Wilhelmshaven will explain what methods different bird species use to find their food and will help you identify the prey species. Furthermore, they will show you the birds’ food through a dissecting scope and tell you a lot about Jade Bay and its sea life.

Join us on an exciting field trip, during which you can learn a lot about the animals of the Wadden Sea.

Please register by phone (+49 4421 910733) or by email (veranstaltung@wattenmeer-besucherzentrum.de). If possible, please bring a pair of binoculars.

14 October 2017, 13.00–14.30 hrs
15 October 2017, 15.00–16.30 hrs
Meeting point:
Helgolandkai, Wilhelmshaven
Google Maps
Organiser: UNESCO World Nature Heritage Wadden Sea Visitor Centre Wilhelmshaven
Equipment: rainwear, binoculars
Fee: adults 14 €, children 12 €, families 32 €


Migratory birds ahead! Birding aboard a catamaran

A tour by catamaran to the migratory birds of the Wadden Sea. Have you ever heard an eider duck coo? Have you ever listened to the concert of curlews and redshanks? Arvid Männicke is a skipper but also a certified guide to the mudflats and will show you migratory birds on the island from aboard his catamaran. Since the catamaran sails noiselessly, we will be able to watch and hear the birds without disturbing sounds from the engine. A very special experience in nature!

The number of participants is limited to 8. Tickets are sold at the tourist information in the town hall. Registration required by phone (+49 171 8909238) or by email (segelschule.langeoog@t-online.de). Weather-dependent. Please bring warm and waterproof clothing and a pair of binoculars, if possible.

15 October 2017, 14.00–16.00 hrs
16 October 2017, 15.00–17.00 hrs
17 October 2017, 15.45–17:45 hrs
18 October 2017, 16.00–18.00 hrs
19 October 2017, 11.00–13.00 hrs
20 October 2017, 12.00–14.00 hrs
21 October 2017, 8.00–10.00 hrs
22 October 2017, 8.00– 10.00 hrs
Meeting point:
Segelschule Langeoog
Hafendeichstraße 15
26465 Langeoog
Google Maps
Organiser: Arvid Männicke (national park guide)
Equipment: rainwear, binoculars
Fee: 29 € per person



Seawatching is a type of birding and takes place offshore. You can watch migrating birds on the open sea together with the experienced ornithologist Edgar Schonart and a pair of good binoculars (spotting scopes). We will be able to observe special species which cannot be easily found close to the shore.

Registration required by phone (+49 177 2638545). Please bring your own spotting scope, if possible!

The way is paved.

16 October 2017, 8.00–9.00 hrs
17 October 2017, 8.00–9.00 hrs
18 October 2017, 8.00–9.00 hrs
19 October 2017, 8.00–9.00 hrs
20 October 2017, 8.00–9.00 hrs
21 October 2017, 8.00–9.00 hrs
Meeting point:
Viewpoint between “Evangelischer Jugendhof“ and “Strandhalle“
26474 Spiekeroog
Organiser: National Park Centre Wittbülten
Fee: free of charge


Let’s go to Heligoland and watch migratory birds!

Heligoland is a tiny archipelago in the open North Sea and a paradise for birders, since a lot of migratory birds stop here along the way to their wintering grounds. Jonas Wobker is an expert on the migratory birds of Heligoland and accompanies us to the island. He also takes us to the nearby “Düne”, a small dune island, and invites us to a birding trip by night. There will be some free time as well to go birding on your own and exchange experiences.

The company Carl Zeiss Sports Optics GmbH will provide high-end binoculars for every participant during the trip.

The number of participants is limited! For registration and more information please contact the Wadden Sea Visitor Centre in Wilhelmshaven (+49 4421 9107-30 or veranstaltung@wattenmeer-besucherzentrum.de) until 1 October 2017. The trip will last two days, during which about 27 hours are spent on the island.

17 October 2017, 7.45 hrs until 18 October 2017, 20.30 hrs
Meeting point:
UNESCO-Weltnaturerbe Wattenmeer Besucherzentrum Wilhelmshaven
Südstrand 110B
26382 Wilhelmshaven
Google Maps
Organiser: UNESCO World Nature Heritage Wadden Sea Visitor Centre Wilhelmshaven
Equipment: rainwear, solid walking shoes, binoculars, camera
Fee: adults 249 € (single room) or 239 € (per person in a double room)


The birds’ Wadden Sea

There are a lot of survival specialists that live in this World Heritage Site, such as laver spire-shells and sand mason worms. Above all, however, it is one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world. But why do a lot of migratory birds stop here along their flyway? During this trip you can explore the environment that is the secret to the birds’ long-distance travels.

Please bring warm, wind- and waterproof clothing as well as rubber boots.

17 October 2017, 16.00–18.00 hrs
Meeting point:
Deichschart (Willrath-Dreesen-Straße), Treffpunkt Wattwanderer
Google Maps
Organiser: RegenpfeiferTouren
Equipment: rubber boots, rainwear
Fee: adults 8.50 €, children 4.50 €, two children and more 3.50 € per child


Cycling tour and breakfast for early birds

During this cycling tour in the early morning with a few walks into the meadows and dunes here and there you will realise that it is worth to get up early: Langeoog at sunrise offers an impressive landscape and bird migration “live”. Early in the morning a lot of the birds that usually migrate at night can be observed on their “rescue” island. Dr. Kai Pagenkopf knows the best birding sites on the island and will entertain you with a lot of information about the different species and the East Atlantic Flyway.

Following the cycling tour, you can enjoy a wonderful breakfast buffet in “Haus Dünenlust”. Enjoy fair trade coffee, cappuccino or regional tea, delicious organic food, home-made jam and whole-grain bread.

The number of participants is limited to 15. Registration is required. You can buy tickets at Langeoog’s tourist information centre in the town hall or at “Haus Dünenlust”.

18 October 2017, 7:15–9:15 hrs
Meeting point:
Deichschart (Willrath-Dreesen-Straße)
Willrath-Dreesen-Straße 90
26465 Langeoog
Google Maps
Organiser: Haus Dünenlust (national park partner)
Equipment: bicycle, solid walking shoes and, if possible, binoculars
Fee: adults 20 € (incl. breakfast), children under 16 years 16 € (incl. breakfast), without breakfast: adults 10 €, children 8 €


Through the salt marshes to the migratory birds

During high tide we will take the train to one of Wangerooge’s most protected areas. We will enter the salt marshes in the restricted zone of the Wadden Sea National Park of Lower Saxony. Hundreds of waders rest here in autumn. We will stop twice to watch the birds from up close, identify the species we see, learn a lot about bird migration and get a good look at salt marshes with their extreme conditions. It will be possible for you to get off the train at Wangerooge’s harbour and walk back on your own.

Tickets are sold in the National Park Centre Wangerooge. Please bring your own binoculars, if possible. If not, binoculars can be rented.

18 October 2017, 11.30–13.00 hrs
Meeting point:
Train station of Wangerooge
Bahnhofstraße 6
26486 Wangerooge
Google Maps
Organiser: National Park Centre Wangerooge together with Wangerooge’s train service
Equipment: binoculars
Fee: adults 10 €, children under 14 years 6 €


Fascinating feathers: a workshop for beginners

An introduction into the world of feathers with Prof. Dr. Hans-Heiner Bergmann: Feathers can be found at the beach and in the dunes. They are the basis of this workshop and brought along by the participants or taken from the collection of the National Park Centre. We will investigate these feathers in the laboratory, see how they are built and learn what the birds need them for. We will be able to identify different bird species with the help of feather drawings in our bird guides.

The seminar room is accessible for persons with reduced mobility.

18 October 2017, 15.00–16:30 hrs
Meeting point:
Nationalpark-Haus Wittbülten
Hellerpad 2
26474 Spiekeroog
Organiser: National Park Centre Wittbülten
Fee: adults 8.50 €; children (6 years and older) 5.50 €; family 21 € (incl. admission for the exhibition)


Children’s drawing contest for emerging artists up to the age of 14

Most of the migratory birds we see in the Wadden Sea breed in the far north, where the summer is only a few weeks long. It hardly darkens during those summer nights, and there are plenty of insects and herbs, which means that the parent birds and their offspring all have enough to feed on. There are no trees in these regions, the birds are therefore only able to breed on the ground.

Think about what this type of landscape in Iceland, Scandinavia or Siberia looks like. How do the chicks of the dunlin, the knot and the brent goose cope in these conditions?

It is up to you whether you want to use a brush or a pen, whether you would like to draw or paint, as long as we can see that many of the migratory birds of the Wadden Sea breed in the Arctic.

All pictures will be presented at the Bird Fair in Horumersiel (at “Haus des Gastes”) on 22 October 2017 and later on our website www.zugvogeltage.de. Therefore your picture should have a DIN A3 size in landscape format.

Please be aware that we won’t be able to return the pictures to you. They will become part of our collection of children’s drawings and used for the next Migratory Bird Days. Whoever would like to give us her/his picture as a present can either bring it to one of the National Park Centres or send it to Nationalparkverwaltung Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer, - Zugvögel - , Virchowstr. 1, 26382 Wilhelmshaven until 18 October 2017 at the latest. Please don’t forget to put your name, age and address on the back of your picture.

Best of all: All young artists between 4 and 14 years of age, who send us a picture, will get the chance to win one of 10 great MINOX binoculars (BF 8x42)!