Meander along the IJsselmeer shores on the ‘Noorderdijk’, between Hindeloopen and Stavoren. While hiking along this former sea dike you will pass the ‘Bocht fan Molkwar’, a nature reserve managed by It Fryske Gea, the provincial association for nature conservation in Friesland, near the village of Molkwerum. It’s a shallow bay with sparse grassland, reeds, rocks and sandbanks. A true paradise for birds and birdwatchers. In this natural ‘still life’ painting, it’s the wind and the birds that provide the motion. A perfect place for anyone wanting to spend some time in quiet contemplation.
East, west, wind blows here best
Wind and water drive changes every day in this 271-hectare nature reserve with lots of birds. Strong westerly winds cause high water levels, flooding the sandbanks and reducing the size of the islands. Cormorants, common terns and seagulls fight each other for a spot. But as soon as the wind turns to the east, water levels fall again. The mudflats and sandbanks are exposed, giving the birds plenty of space. And they really need that space too, as around April some 15,000 or so ruffs spend the night here.
Quacking, chirping, twitching
Take a seat in birdwatching hide ‘It Swan’ in the ‘Bocht fan Molkwar’. Bring a thermos flask of coffee or tea and binoculars and feast your eyes. Indulge your ears with the sounds of nature. Because – weird but true – the quacking of ducks and the twittering of bearded reedlings has a calming and soothing effect. Although birdwatching can also be a busy pastime. See that western marsh harrier floating gracefully over the reed beds looking for a bite to eat that isn’t paying attention? Or spot the common teal, common goldeneye, bearded reedling and the great black-backed gull from this hide overlooking the IJsselmeer.
The starting point for this 11-kilometre-long walk on the Noorderdijk is Hindeloopen. From here, take the Arriva train to Stavoren. A short trip of about 10 minutes. From Stavoren, follow the red and white markings of ‘Zuiderzeepad’ with the panorama of the IJsselmeer to your left. This is an adventurous hike along white sandy beaches and sometimes among grazing sheep. Occasionally you’ll have to climb over a fence. During the walk, a forest of masts in the Hindeloopen marina appears increasingly clearly on the horizon. Be sure to visit this city, as recommended by Lonely Planet. It’s one of the famous eleven Frisian cities.