14 July 2021

Schiermonnikoog is one of the Dutch Wadden Islands and known for its bird populations. Certainly, during the annual migrations, where these Islands are life-saving for the hundreds of thousands of birds that will land there to forage before they start or continue the rest of their journey. Each year a group of photographing friends and I visit one of the Wadden Islands for a weekend to eat, drink make fun and of course photograph. This weekend at Schiermonnikoog leads us to, among others, a lake called Westerplas. It’s a beautiful Nature reserve within the nature reserve the Island is itself. While the others were still sleeping I did some recon on Saturday morning very (very)early Overwhelmed by the beauty of this area I almost forgot to take pictures. Totally peaceful, no noises other than the sound of birds and a bit of wind. A layer of fog made the whole place look like a scene straight out of a movie. I just couldn’t stop riding my bike and absorb its beauty. Yes, you read this right “bike” as the whole Island is forbidden for cars unless you’re some sort of public transport like a bus or a taxi or otherwise if you’re disabled.

At the South-East corner of the lake, I found a bird hide. A public and free of charge hide that is controlled and maintained by a Dutch organization “Natuurmonumenten” (Nature-monuments) I found it to be a very clean and well-kept bird hide at what I now believe is one of the most beautiful bird spots on all of the Wadden Islands. The hide itself is not too big and measures maybe five x five meters and it has two small open slots to stick your lenses thru. There is no place to rest your gear so you have to bring a monopod or tripod and as I said, there’s a good possibility that you have to share the slots as it is a public hide of course.

But once you made it here, you absolutely won’t regret it. This is where you will find hundreds maybe even thousands of birds in one day. Different Geese species, Great Cormorants, all sorts of Ducks, Kingfishers and large numbers of other different species, I’d call it a true Walhalla for bird lovers. Although the whole island itself is a gigantic nature reserve, here at the Westerplas it’s another level, you’re in the middle of nowhere, just forest and meadows all around. It’s not only the waterbirds that you will find here and certainly not during the annual bird migrations. There’s a large diversity of birds visiting Schiermonnikoog’s Westerplas and therefore it is definitely a must-visit whenever on the island. Hope you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did.