Large numbers of birds and bird species find food, rest and a place to breed in and around the Eastern Scheldt.
If there is a low tide in the Eastern Scheldt, many birds gather their food on the dried up silts and plates. There are many bottom-dwellers that are eaten by long-legged waders such as oystercatcher and redshanks. If the water is high, it is good to rest on the salt marshes, but especially behind the dikes in the fields and watery lands: the birds tell you if it is low or high tide!
The name fish thief leaves little to be guessed at, but silver-headed gulls, grebes, cormorants, ringed plover and the red-breasted merganser are also real fish eaters. Ducks regularly disappear with their heads under water to come up with a beak full of food. Often you only see their posterior protruding from the water.
Diving ducks even disappear completely under water. Most ducks look for vegetable food and small bottom-dwellers with their flat beaks.
The Eastern Scheldt is also an important international area for migratory birds. Some birds, such as the bar-tailed godwit, use the Eastern Scheldt as a stopover on their journey to Africa, where they spend the winter. And on their way back to the breeding grounds they visit again. Other birds, such as the redshank, seem to be around here all year round. Apparently deceptive.... the redshanks that breed around the Eastern Scheldt leave in autumn to spend the winter in Africa. While the redshanks who spend the winter here in spring fly back to northern regions like Iceland to breed there.
You can hear geese from far away; they fill up their bellies with grass or arable land in the winter. Geese come to feed on plants and leave again in the spring. Only the brent goose can be found in the Eastern Scheldt in the summer months. The barnacle goose is a real winter goose and is therefore also called a freezing goose in the Netherlands.
Many long-legged waders such as the oystercatcher, avocet and the redshank breed in watery lands and fields behind the dikes, also colonies of black-headed gulls and fish thieves make their nests there. Neeltje Jans is home to many common, herring and lesser black-backed gulls, but Neeltje Jans has also been discovered by the rare little tern. Long-legged waders such as the ringed plovers and Kentish plovers breed here on salt marshes outside the dikes and dike embankments.