Special Chinese Guests visiting the German Wadden Sea

Members of the Mangrove Conservation Fund (MCF), a long-standing partner of Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung in the Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation project, visited the Wadden Sea National Park to learn about conservation management and to incorporate knowledge into their conservation work on the Chinese coasts.

From 9-12 September, Dr Christoph Zöckler from our Foundation and local conservationist Hartmut Andretzke welcomed Lili Sun, Yin Yuzhu and Cao Huan to Norderney and guided them across the island on a bicycle and walking tour.

Morning fog obstructed most of the bird sightings but provided an atmospheric experience of the wild parts of the Wadden Sea National Park. Hundreds of tiny natterjack toads along the paths were a big surprise for everybody. Great care was necessary not to tread on any. Oystercatcher, Curlews and Sandwich Terns were only heard and faint glimpses of sandpipers, plovers and gulls hinted at larger flocks of birds. But as soon as the fog lifted thousands of small waders exposed themselves to our Chinese guests. The Wadden Sea wonders of large wild natural landscapes, large flocks of migratory birds alongside huge numbers of seals all were best illustrated in perfect weather. 

Yuzhu Yin, Lili Sun, Dr Christoph Zöckler, Hartmut Andretzke and Huan Cao (from left to right) in the morning fog

Dr Valeria Bers and Dr Gregor Scheiffahrt for the National Park authorities gave short presentations and insights into the National Park Lower Saxony and the wider Wadden Sea between the Netherlands and Denmark and informed the visitors on the challenges of managing the park at the island’s National Park Info Centre Watt Welten.

More and even larger flocks of migratory birds were observed in the Leybucht on the mainland the next day. A specific focus of MCF were High Tide Roost sites behind the dikes, which could provide ideas for the design of similar constructions at various key sites in China on the East Asian Australasian Flyway, which is important for the globally critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper as well as millions of migratory birds.

Lili Sun, the chairperson of the board of MCF stated: ‘The visit was well beyond our expectations. It’ll have a profound influence on our subsequent work on the Chinese coast!’

MCF will host the next international Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force Meeting in Guangdong in January 2024, to which Christoph Zöckler and Hartmut Andretzke have been invited too.