Some sound advice: don’t forget your wellies. A once in a lifetime experience: trudge right through marshlands from Kobbeduinen and the Bouwe Hoekstrapad to the Willemsduin. But remember the tides! And brooding season. Take a moment to admire Kaap Willemsduin where you can see two of the wooden beacons ships used long ago to determine their course. Looking out over the Oosterkwelder you’ll be rewarded with a view of the Wadden Sea.
Marshes form a natural transition from land to sea. They are sculpted from the wet clay carried in by the seawater in minuscule particles of sediment. When the sea retreats the marsh plants grasp hold of the sediment. The sea is creating land without need for human intervention. It is a never-ending process.
A process that started around 1850 on Schiermonnikoog. Before that the eastern part of the island was nothing but a vast sandy plain. Now it is a unique, wet area where the tides have free rein and thousands of marsh birds enjoy a smorgasbord of sweet sea plantain and saltmarsh grass. Even the sheep that graze on the high marsh flats during the summer months love the salty marsh grass.
You’ll find an array of characteristic flora and fauna in this unique nature reserve. Cordgrass, lamb's ear and glasswort are among the typical plant species you’ll discover in abundance in the Wadden landscape. Sweet and salty go hand in hand and each water bird has its own particular favourites.
This natural process that started more than a century ago is still going strong. Layer upon layer of clay form the inexhaustible building blocks. The nutritious clay sediment of the older marshes can reach up to 15 centimetres but vegetation is sparse on the younger marshes that are completely submerged during high tide..
Salt-tolerant plants such as glasswort and the greater sea-spurrey are pioneers acting as messengers of the future. Biologists still regularly discover new plant species here. The marshes never cease to amaze.