Birdwatching or birding is a form of wildlife observation in which the observation of birds is a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds.
It’s a magical year-round destination for hiking and sightseeing. In summer it’s very special to see the waterfalls after a hard rain, in winter when the falls are frozen. Spring offers the beauty of wildflowers. Fall shows its beauty with yellow, golden and red leaves that are present on the trails.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
The park is a less busy in winter months (Dec, Jan, Feb). Otherwise it’s often heavily crowded in spring, summer and fall. Even more on weekends and national holidays. To beat the crowds: Avoid weekends and be there early. The visitor center opens at 9 AM but you can arrive and park earlier. Another way to avoid the crowds is to hit the trails that are not located in the main hub. The park is large and has many trails where you can ‘hike away’.
Bird Watching Months (Eagles)
Every year, thousands of eagles migrate to the area, they come for the fish found in the cold waters of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The birds begin arriving in late December and stay until March. To spot the eagles and be on the safe side visit in January or February. Park administration says, that depending on the weather, most of the birds are gone in March already.
The best months are May until July. At this time of the year breeding water-birds and their chicks can be spotted relatively close. The black coots and the great crested grebe with their chicks are best spotted in July. Usually, the great crested grebe is very shy. This area is one of the very view places where you get up to 10 meters close to this beautiful bird. Closest parking at Leuther Mühle (Mill) (Google Maps)
Where to Stay
The B&B Hombergen101 is beautifully located close to the Krickenbecker Lakes and Information Center.
20.000 birds both in winter and in passage periods
Birds Island is a year-round destination with a size of three hectares. Most interesting is the mating ritual between April and August. Breeding season from August/September until March.
The opening hours are depending on summer and winter time. Opening at 7 a.m. closing in summer at 7 p.m. and winter at 5 p.m.
Best time in spring; August and September. The Geelbek Hide from low tide as the tide is coming in. The water level rises, and the waders are forced to get closer to the hide.
In spring flamingoes make a stop at the West Coast National Park.
Only in August and September the Postberg Section with game and wildflowers is open to the public.
In summer (December to February) birding is outstanding with resident and migratory birds but poor wildlife visibility.
Crowds and Weather
Southern winter; the dry season (May to September) is not only the best time for wildlife but also low season with fewer tourists, except for school holiday: It’s less busy in camps and on the roads. Days are sunny with low humidity and nights are cold. Fewer mosquito and a very low risk for malaria.
The busiest months in the main camps are in southern summer (November to March) if possible avoid the Christmas school holidays. The rain starts end of October. The scenery gets lush and green, but during summer it’s also hot and humid and heavy rainfalls occur. If rivers get flooded, you can't pass bridges. Wildlife game viewing is not as good as in southern winter.