Mesmerizing Wader migration at Westhoek

Friesland  >  Netherlands

Westhoek is the place in the Netherlands to watch the huge concentrations of waders that use the Waddenzee as a stop-over-site during their migration.

Added by Arjan Dwarshuis


There are few places on this planet where a birdwatcher can witness a mass concentration of over a hundred thousand waders in their summer plumage. Westhoek is such a place. If you choose your visit carefully in May or (preferably) between the third week of July and the first week of September. You have to watch the tide (http://www.watersportalmanak.nl/getijdentabellen-2019/harlingen) to make sure you arrive at Westhoek 2 – 1,5 hours before high tide. As you wait at the transition between glasswort and mudflat, you will first see the masses of waders at over a kilometre distance. But as the tide slowly comes in the birds will come closer and closer, until you have tens of thousands of waders foraging right at your feed. The majority will consist of Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Little Stint, Avocet, Common Ringed Plover and Eurasian Curlew, but among the masses of common waders rarities like Red-necked Phalarope, Broad-billed Sandpiper or even an American vagrant could be found. Witnessing such a sheer mass of birds from such a short distance is an experience that will stay with you forever.



You can park at the small car park adjacent to the dike just outside Westhoek (See the P on the map), near the Gaya Indonesia Restaurant. Cross the dike and follow the small track through the reeds until you reach the base off the mudflats. Position yourself at the transition from reeds to glasswort.

Terrain and Habitat

Mud flats, Sea


Flat, Open landscape, High water possible

Circular trail


Is a telescope useful?


Good birding season

Autumn, Spring

Best time to visit

Autumn, Spring migration, Autumn migration


Narrow trail

Difficulty walking trail


Accessible by


Birdwatching hide / platform


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Top 5 birds

Other birds you can see here


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