Birdwatch in Helgoland (2018)

Helgoland is very popular among birdwatchers, finally it had worked out for us, we had decided to travel via Cuxhafen by ship, the new Halunder catamaran was not yet ready for use. We had reserved the tickets in advance, got a parking space right next to the jetty and the luggage transport to the hotel had worked out wonderfully.

Helgoland consists of the approximately 1.0 km² red sandstone island with its remarkable rocky coast and the somewhat smaller dune. The natural connection between the two islands was destroyed during a storm surge in 1720, and a small ferry runs regularly.


View of the 'Lange Anna' (tall anne)
The view of Lange Anna from gannetsrock is spectacular. Here one can observe the entries and excursions of the bass boobies and gannets that breed on the rock and then raise their young, the razorbill is also represented with a few specimens. Eider ducks, cormorants, wheatears and much more can often be seen on the beaches and piers below the rocky coast.

Unfortunately, in often unfavourable conditions with strong winds up to Beaufort 6, we spent a few hours at the bass boobies, which transported breeding material and courtship presents for their partners. Unfortunately we could not experience the sunset on the rock, so we have to come back again.

Among the gannets, a few examples of the northern razorbill were difficult to spot. On land, they squat and run in an upright posture, similar to penguins. In Germany, razorback of the subspecies Alca torda islantica only occur as breeding pairs on Helgoland.

Lesser black-backed gull
The very tall looking lesser black-backed gulls can be observed around the two islands, the smaller kittiwakes breed in spring among the boobies and gannets on the rocks.

Ferryboat to the dune
The dune ferry from the main island to the dune departs from the landing bridge or from the small northeast harbour, depending on the weather conditions, every half hour and every full hour (in the high season until 7 p.m.).

We could observe this gadwall duck at the so-called barbecue pond on the dune, here there were also conspicuously many Chiffchaffs, an eider duck had built its nest in the vicinity.

common chiffchaff
Chiffchaffs can be seen and heard relatively often in different parts of the dune.

Male eider
Eider ducks are relatively common on both islands, both on the southern beach of the dune and around the main island.

The oyster-catchers are also present on both the main and the side island in the dunes or on the beach.

The wheatears were quite trustful and mostly to be observed at the pier below the lighthouse or at the northern beach of the main island.

The diversity of species on Helgoland is unique in Germany. About 400 bird species have been identified so far. This is partly due to Helgoland's isolated location in the North German Gulf: Wandering birds are formally attracted by the island as a resting place, the migration times always offer surprises. The protected areas are managed by the association called Jordsand.

Gray seal
For the sake of completeness, a word about grey seals and seals. These can be observed all year round in their natural habitat, however, a minimum distance of 30 meters is permitted so that humans and animals do not get too close.