Waders or simply shorebirds belong to the rather large order of Charadriiformes. This group of birds shows a wide variety of many different species. From an ornithological perspective and also from the view of a wildlife photographer it is both interesting and also challenging, but also rewarding.
It is challenging because of the identification, which is difficult. It is rewarding because one gets to learn a lot about quite a number of birds and it gives an extrodinary amount of pleasure just watching them going about their business.
In this article I am telling you about waders, what they have in common, give a list of species and where to watch them.
In fact, when talking about waders we are talking quite a number of different families, all covered by a single term. Those families are: Oystercatcher, Stils and Avocets, Thick-knees, Coursers and Pratincoles, Plovers and Sandpipers, Stints, Godwits, Curlews, Snipe & Phalaropes.
Because of the large number of species I only provide an oversight over the species somehow common in the Western Palearctic to keep it short and simple. The Western Palearctic covers the Atlantic islands, northern Africa, Europe, the Middle East and from there up north to the Caucasus. Most of us will probably not manage to travel all the spots available in that vast area. The species are as follows:
Waders and shorebirds can actually be watched at any place that is adjacent to water. This includes the shoreline, dunes, in the vegetation of dunes hinterland, brackish water, wetland, large lakes, alongside river banks. Even former sewage fields have become home to waders nowadays. However, the best chances of watching larger numbers are along the shorelines.
The Wadden Sea is the number one spot in Europe where we can watch waders during all seasons with probably the highest numbers between August to November and again in spring between February to May.
Another spot in the southern North Sea where large numbers of waders stay during migration is the German Island of Heligoland. This area is one of the most important resting place for migratory birds in the hole of Europe and it is worth going there twice a year.