The island of Neuwerk offers bird lovers a true paradise. The various species of birds that can be observed here throughout the year captivate ornithologists and nature lovers alike. The spring is particularly interesting, when thousands of Brent and White-fronted Geese rest on Neuwerk to build up a fat cushion for their onward flight to the Siberian breeding grounds. During this spectacle, the National Park House offers a special program of events from April to May as part of the“Goose Weeks“, where you can learn about the different species of birds and get an insight into the mystery of bird counting. The island’s eastern foreland is also home to around 450 breeding pairs of the rare Sandwich Tern, which has been native to Neuwerk since 2006. The mudflats around Neuwerk and Scharhörn are also of supraregional importance as a moulting area for shelducks.
Conservation measures and successful population recovery have resulted in an increasing diversity of breeding and resting birds in the foreland of Neuwerk Island. In total, more than 2000 breeding pairs of Common Terns and numerous other bird species are represented here. Among the most important protection measures were the designation of the Neuwerk/Kleiner Vogelsand nature reserve in 1982 and the expansion of the protected area as well as the designation of the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park in 1990.
The salt marshes and island foreshore are home to numerous other breeding birds, including sandpiper, redshank, oystercatcher, lapwing, skylark, and meadow pipit. The oystercatcher is Neuwerk’s character bird par excellence and its conspicuous courtship behavior and aggressive clutch defense make a walk through the foreland an unforgettable experience. During the spring and fall migration seasons, the foreshore becomes an important resting place for migrating birds, such as brent geese and wigeon. Songbirds also use the foreshore as a resting place on their migration.
The National Park administration also offers various guided tours where you can learn about Neuwerk’s bird life, such as the guided tour “Who breeds on Neuwerk?” from May to June. A walk around the island will introduce you to Neuwerk’s community of oystercatchers, avocets, shelducks, terns and gulls with their offspring. For this tour you should bring sturdy shoes and, if available, binoculars. Another tour that takes place from August to October is “Return of the Migratory Birds”. During this tour you will experience the return of migratory birds from their Arctic breeding grounds on their way south. Be there when Dunlins, Bar-tailed Godwits or Knutts land in large flocks in the Wadden Sea. Also for this tour you should bring sturdy shoes and, if available, binoculars.
A visit to the small bird island Scharhörn is permitted after prior registration with the bird warden and only at low tide and promises a special experience. After a mudflat path of about 7 km you will reach the island and you can walk along the boardwalk to the pile dwelling, from where you can enjoy the view over the bird colonies and wide mudflats. The bird keeper will gladly inform you about the peculiarities of the bird life, the history of the island and about his unusual life on this “outpost” in the Wadden Sea. After about an hour, the way back must be started, because staying over a high water tide is not allowed.