Oysters, Birds, and Mudflats: An Excursion to Sylt
by Lilian Dornier, 10PLUS
During their ecology field trip students in grade 10PLUS explored the natural habitat of flora and fauna along the North Sea.

The destination of this year’s grade 10PLUS ecology field trip was Sylt. After a long train journey, we arrived at 9 p.m. at the youth hostel in List, in the northern part of the island, still in time for a late supper!

The next morning, we walked out toward Sylt’s western shore and learned interesting facts about the tides from our biology teacher, Mr Peters. We also learned about a project on the island in which ships dredge up and return the sand that has drifted away from land to replenish the sandy beaches of Sylt. This helps to maintain the structure of the island. In the evening we were given a guided tour of the mudflats (in German: Wattwanderung). Either in bathing slippers or barefoot, we marched through the mud and learned about the different nature protection zones. We saw some crabs, birds, and also a lugworm, which we studied intensively.

The next day was given over to a lesson about the salt marshes and their diverse vegetation, followed by a long hike devoted to birdwatching. For this we travelled to the well-known Rantumbecken, a nature reserve area. There we had an excellent overview of the breeding areas of different bird species. Two members of staff who are doing their voluntary social year (FSJ) at the reserve were able to explain a lot about bird migration, ground-nesting birds, bird behaviour and the significance of Schleswig-Holstein’s Wadden Sea National Park. In the days that followed, we hiked through the dunes, tasted jelly made from the crowberries that grow on shrubs in the dunes, searched for plastic garbage in the sand, and went swimming in the North Sea. At the exhibition and adventure centre called “Erlebniszentrum Naturgewalten” we got a closer look at life in and the forces of nature around the North Sea region. During another walking tour through the mudflats, we also learned about how oysters are cultivated. Our last day was spent in the town of Westerland. After this exciting visit to Sylt, we can now join the German band Die Ärzte in singing their hit song with the words: “Oh, I have such a longing, I'm losing my mind. I want to go back to the North Sea. I want to go back to Westerland!”