2018 Workum, the Netherlands

Key Info

Conference Dates
28/09/18 — 01/10/18

Registration Dates
10/05/18 — 31/07/18

Abstract Submission Dates
10/05/18 — 31/07/18

Attendance Fees
Members €75.00
Non-Members €117.00

In 2018 the IWSG Annual Conference welcomes you in Friesland, the Netherlands.
The conference will be a part of the Leeuwarden European Capital of Culture 2018 events.

Registration to the conference is now open.



Workum is a beautiful small old city in the southwest of the Province of Fryslan. Eventhough Workum (or Warkum in the Frisian language) only has 4435 inhabitants, it is a city, because it has city-rights.

The meeting will take place in the Culturehouse (Kultuerhus) Klameare in the middle of the city centre. But city centre means in this case that within 5 minutes you are in a meadow. Not a beautiful meadowbird meadow because it is too green for that. But a nice meadowbird area is half an hour walking from the centre and so is the IJsselmeer, a big freshwater lake with the Workumerwaard as a good meadow and waterbird area. There is lot’s of culture  in the city, many artist, especially ceramics, many nice little shops.

The Klameare used to be the old cityhall, but has a modern extension to it where we will stay the biggest part of the weekend.

Workum has a trainstation. However we will try to have transport from nearby stations, like Heerenveen and Zurich (Kop Aflsuitdijk). To help you schedule your arrival and travel to Workum, please use this website for public transport within the Netherlands:


Thursday, Sept 27 Registration of participants
Friday, Sept 28 Workshop with the title: ‘’How does a dreamworld for meadowbirds look on the basis of their ecological pre-conditions.” The workshop will partly be prepared in advance. The conclusions of the workshop will be presented in a “statement’’ that will be presented at the end of the workshop.

Cultural event in the evening: unique concert of 5 famous Frisian singers that will present their ‘Godwit’’ song in the big Church in Workum as a Leeuwarden Cultural Capital of Europe event 2018. This short event will also be open for the people from Workum.

Saturday, Sept 29 AGM
Scientific programme with keynote speaker and parallel sessions
Evening: performance by Sytze Pruiksma & Theunis Piersma
Sunday, Sept 30 Scientific programme with parallel sessions, keynote speaker and Poster Competition
Evening: Party with dancing
Monday, Oct 1 4 different excursions
Evening: relaxing, talking and a possible surprise:)
Tuesday, Oct 2 Departure of participants
For those who want to see more of the North we will provide information on good birding areas and cultural events

Rosemarie Kentie started studying Black-tailed Godwits 13 years ago at the nearby Workumerwaard. Captivated by these beautiful birds and their struggles in the modern agricultural landscape, her work as a PhD in Theunis Piersma’s group at the University of Groningen laid the foundation for the ongoing field study. Her interest lies in understanding what is causing population changes and how animals adapt to the rapidly changing world. After she got her PhD in 2015 she continued to work on godwits, including the effects of their yearly flight to and from the wintering areas on timing and reproduction. Now she is a research fellow at the University of Oxford, where she implements state-of-the-art modelling to understand the interaction of climate and landscape change on phenology and population dynamics of birds and mammals. In her plenary talk, Rosemarie will present insights from the long-term study of the nearby population of Black-tailed Godwits, and discuss the challenges faced by this iconic wader.


Brett K. Sandercock has worked with migratory waders for more than 25 years, and has made important contributions to understanding the demography and behavioral ecology of species breeding in arctic and grassland ecosystems. He is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in Trondheim, Norway where he is involved with long-term monitoring programs for arctic and alpine vertebrates in Scandinavia. Brett worked with Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers in western Alaska for his dissertation project and received his PhD from Simon Fraser University in 1997. He was a faculty member at Kansas State University for 17 years, where he completed the first long-term population study of Upland Sandpipers at sites in Kansas and Uruguay. For five years, Brett also served as one of three coordinators for the Arctic Shorebird Demographics Network (ASDN), where project participants used a common set of field protocols to study shorebirds at field sites in Alaska, northern Canada, and Russia. In his plenary lecture, Brett will present ASDNʼs new discoveries for the ecology of arctic-breeding shorebirds, the conservation implications for declining species, and the possibilities and pitfalls that are offered by conducting science as part of a coordinated research network.


Clemens Küpper has studied waders for more than 15 years. He combines molecular analyses with ecological studies to understand the variation in mating and parental care behaviours. Clemens champions the use of genetics to define species and populations, and to identify conservation units based on their unique genetic make-up. Among his proudest achievements are the re-discovery of the Snowy Plover and his direct involvement with sequencing the Ruff genome. Like many of his study organisms, Clemens himself has shown formidable dispersal abilities: after studying waders at the University of Vienna for his masters, he moved for his PhD research to the University of Bath, UK, followed by subsequent multi-year stop-overs in Boston, Sheffield and Graz before returning to his natal hatching grounds north of the Alps. Clemens currently leads an independent research group at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, studying the links between genetic and behavioural variation. In his plenary talk, Clemens will discuss how to harness the power of genetics to obtain insights into the natural history of wader species.

Excursion 1

Frisian Lake IJsselcoast

After the closure of the Afsluitdijk in 1932 the Zuiderzee, a former branch of the Wadden Sea, lost its tides and salt water became fresh. Its name was changed to Lake Ijssel, but many inhabitants of the picturesque small cities along the coast with their long history of trade with the Baltic region still call it “sea”.

(Photos: Jan Tijsma)

On this excursion we will walk over the former sandbanks and saltmarshes, which have partly been converted into one of the best meadowbird-areas of the Netherlands or developed into marshland. By the end of September most breeding wader species have left, but the fields can be full with thousands of Golden Plovers, Ruffs, Lapwings and Curlews, hunted by ever-present Peregrines, Northern Goshawks and Marsh Harriers. In the small pools on the Workumerwaard high numbers of Common Snipes hide and up to six Tringa-species and other smaller waders can be spotted. The first Barnacle and White-fronted Geese have probably arrived and in their slipstream White-tailed Eagles. There will be flocks of ducks (mostly Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, Gadwall) in the shallow coastal waters and Great White Egrets are always there; with some luck we will see Great Bittern by the time we have reached the reedmarshes of the Kooiwaard. Here we have a good chance to find Bearded Tit and if we are lucky lot’s of passerines that follow the coastline on their way south. At this time of the year you can expect anything! From the high dike you have splendid views over the grasslands, lake, creeks, marshlands and reedbeds. This excursion is for those that like a firm walk (at least 10 km) and don’t mind climbing a fence. Bring waterproof shoes and clothes because there are limited options for shelter.

(Photos: Tjerk Kunst)

Excursion 2

Frisian Wadden Sea coast: Westhoek & Zwarte Haan

The Wadden Sea coast of the province of Friesland is one of the best monitored bird areas in The Netherlands, with monthly high tide roost counts year round. The most western high tide roost on the Frisian Wadden Sea coast is ‘Westhoek’; a small high tide roost with big numbers. In summer and fall Westhoek is known for incredible flocks of birds, mainly waders and gulls. Numerous waders are Redshanks, Avocets, Knots, Curlews, Bar-tailed Godwits and Dunlin. Rare waders can also be found at Westhoek, like Red-necked phalarope, Broadbilled Sandpiper and and White-rumped Sandpiper. Westhoek is known for being the main roost of Curlew Sandpipers in July-September. At the end of September there are big numbers of ducks (Wigeon, Pintail, Teal). The central part of the Wadden Sea, north of Westhoek, is known for Shelducks, since this is the main roosting area for the species in Europe, apart from the German Wadden Sea. Common birds of prey are Peregrine Falcons, Marsh Harrier and Hen Harrier.

After Westhoek we will have a look at the high tide roost Zwarte Haan, a main roost of Avocets. Here is where the large salt marshes of the Frisian coast begin that stretch 22 km eastwards.

Excursion 3

North Holland Wadden Sea coast: Balgzand & former isle of Wieringen

On this excursion we will drive over the 32km Afsluitdijk, created in 1932, and visit a few high tide roosts in the most western part of the Wadden Sea, which has the highest numbers of waders. Many species can be found here and often in high numbers because it is closed for cockle fishery, very rich in nutrients and most dike parts are closed for visitors. The transect between Den Helder and Den Oever, which is monthly monitored, holds in this period of the year over 300.000 waders.

Depending on the level of the tide, we can see loads of Dunlins, Knots, Grey Plovers and flocks of Golden Plovers, Oystercatchers (>10.000), Redshanks, Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Sanderlings and Turnstones. The last Spoonbills, Curlew Sandpipers and Little Egrets are about  to leave, and we will welcome the first wintering species like Brent Geese, Wigeon, Teal and Pintail.

If we have time we can have a quick look at the visitor centre on the Afsluitdijk (2018) and have a look at the development of the Fish Migration River. But as we are afraid having no time left, a preview can be seen here:

Excursion 4

Wolvetinte, Farmhouse, Fierljep-centre it Heidenskip

Into the farm. Did you ever want to experience a typical Dutch farm?  We will visit the Galama farm in It Heidenskip. You can see the old farmbuilding from 1870, talk with the farmer, see how life is and how to manage cows and grassland. There will be a small walking tour to see the cows and some facilities made for waders.

The Wolvetinte. This is an nature area where many waders are roosting in spring. There are over 1000 nests of terns and gulls, and many ducks are nesting. It’s a nature area designed by a few village members and maintained also by the village.

The town It Heidenskip is marked with red. From there we will leave with a traditional open farmship over the lake and sail towards the nature area following the blue line. This gives you a wonderful impression of the Frisian lakes. We will walk back by the green line (about 4 kilometers total, flat landscape guaranteed). If you can’t walk the distance, it should be possible to go both ways with the boat.

The whole village was working to make an artificial island at the Wolvetinte for terns and avocets!

Fierljeppen. Back in the village we wil experience the traditional sport of fierljeppen, which can be translated as far leaping, which can be simplified as jump far! This is a traditional sport, with 13 meter long sticks. Jumpers try to beat each other in distance over 12 meter water, sometimes making jumps further than 20 meters. This sport finds its tradition in searching for lapwing eggs. We will tell you all about it during the excursion. People jumping over the water, watch and try !

Each year, the IWSG supports up to five low income country delegates’ participation at the Annual Conference. Please note that this scholarship is only for the members of the IWSG. How to become a member?

Please submit your application via this form. The application process will open concurrently with the registration to the conference and the deadline for applications is the 1st of June 2018.

We kindly ask you to limit the conference abstract to 250 words.

The deadline for the abstract submission is the 31st of July 2018.

Please login or register (you can use the buttons at the top of the page) to access the conference registration form.


More Payment Options

Account owner: L.Loos
Account:  NL28 ASNB 0706 9417 99
Bank: ASN Bank
Bank address: Bezuidenhoutseweg 153, 2594 AG Den Haag

Please login or register (you can use the buttons at the top of the page) to access this form.