Birds of the wadden sea





Branta leucopsis / Barnacle Goose / Vitkindad gås / Bramgås
Branta bernicla / Brent Goose / Prutgås / Knortegås








































































he Wadden Sea

An introduction

Pictures on these pages are from the Danish section of the tidalarea called the Waddenzee, or Wadden Sea situated in the lover eastern corner of the North Sea. It’s not like the Grand Canyon and nothing about this place reminds you of the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s definitely something else, and you don’t find anything  like it elsewhere.


The pictures in this section are from the Tønder March in Denmark, which is  only the northern most section of the Wadden Sea. This tidal area stretches way beyond the Danish border line. Down south through Germany with the Frisian Islands, through Lower Saxony, 230 miles to Den Helder of Netherlands, and in accordance the governments of Denmark, Germany and Netherlands are working together on it’s  protection and it’s conservation.

In a  Trilateral cooperation.

And now we are striving to get this hole area written onto the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites. A list of   sites and buildings around the world considered to be of special value to humanity. No less. On the list you find, amongst the pyramids of Egypt, the Grand Canyon and  Australia’s, Great Barrier reef.

This latest Danish, soon to be, contribution to the list  is flat and wide spread like a  desert, but its not a desert. It’s a feeling of space and a heaven so high and blue, as that of the North sea itself, and it’s miles and miles of water so low that you actually can drive your car across, at low tides.  People regularly do so between Jutland and the island of Mandø. A  3 and a half mile drive and a nice experience as long as you keep an eye on the watch not to be caught midway when high tide comes.

Protected by dikes its an open prosperous countryside with a history that goes as far back as that of Europe’s, a history dominated by  tales of dike-buildings and  catastrophes, of new dike-buildings and new catastrophes and floods. Tales of disasterous winter-storms where the waves of the big neighbour,  the sea, stole everything  away and left  nothing behind.

A long line going back almost 800 years.

Much of it is remembered , but over the decades.. most of it, no doubt,  is lost and mercifully forgotten.

As early as the year 1362,  more than 150 years before Columbus, a  tale or a legend is told of ”a big drowning” with vague and  ( we choose to think ) improbable and unlikely numbers of losses, such as 200.000 souls, but on an October night in 1634 we know for sure that 11-12.000 people lost their lives, and what a catastrophe that must have been.  It must have taken years and years and generations  before the marks were wiped away from the landscape, not to mention  from the minds.

That night the waters reached 6,1 meter above normal sea-level, or so they say,   we didn’t really believe them until that November-day in 1981 when we  saw a frightening 5,01 meters.

Other remembered years are 1825 and that of 1839, but the 24th of November1981 was the last time. A  near catastrophe that led to the building of a new dike a mile and a half  further at sea.  A bigger one and better one.

So now the 230 mile coastline of the Wadden Sea from Denmark  to  Netherlands is safe. Or safer anyway. Safer to people. When it comes to the animals, its a different story.

Nature and  birds are the ones that suffer now..

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) has decreased a fataly 80 % over the past 20 years. For  most other use-to-be commonly seen species such as Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) Blackheaded Gull (Larus ridibundus) its 60 %. And so it is for  Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra) Hedge Accentor (Prunella modularis) Isterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina) Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus agricola) and Mew Gull (Larus canus).
The wadden Sea area that used to house such an extraordinarily high production of micro-organisms,  to supply the rich  flora of fish, bottom life and birds now suffers from eutrophication and up to three month of  retention times.
Water quality is going bad. 
And the areas behind the dikes are drying out.
As you can understand the level of the water on the areas behind the dikes, the march,  is subjected to human judgement and intelligence. It’s a  thing  controlled by people adjusting the flow of water in channels and ditches.
A political decision.

So far, it seems, it’s not been done in  favour of  the birds.
And, unlike our trilateral partners Netherlands and Germany, Danish  authorities still allow,  the hunting of migratory birds.
Even within the conservation area.
Numerous arguments are heard.
I really think that it was gods intentions with nature, that it should support man, but I honestly don’t think, he had in mind, that it should provide him with a modern life income too. 

So we have formed the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation.


Considering that the Wadden Sea region is a unique  natural area whose biological, scenic and scientific significance is of  international  importance.

The way we treat our Wadden Sea area is not confined to be a national matter.

Its not only Denmarks most important habitat for wading-birds, waterfowl,  gulls and terns, but  at a larger scale, one of the most important roosting places in the west-palearctic flyway for migratory birds.

In addition to this its beautiful.