Nature reserve Het Zwanenwater
A very diverse dune area of 600 hectares
The Zwanenwater nature reserve is located in the dunes of North Holland near the coastal town of Callantsoog. In the middle of the dune area are the two largest natural dune lakes in Western Europe: the First Water and slightly more to the south the Second Water with the Bokkeneiland. They were created in the course of the 18th century by rising groundwater and rainwater that remained just behind the sea bar.
With the purchase in 1972 Natuurmonumenten secured the Zwanenwater. The lakes were cleaned in the years 2007-2009 and now contain clean water surrounded by beautiful marshlands.
Bird watching in the Zwanenwater
To see birds you really have to be in the Zwanenwater. More than 75 species breed every year and the area is on the route of numerous migratory birds. They find food and rest in the dune lakes. In winter you can see many water birds on the lakes: wigeon, shoveler, large sawbill and with a bit of luck great egrets. On the Bokkeneiland hundreds of cormorants nest in a colony in spring. In April you can hear the striking bluethroat singing. The birds are clearly visible and can be photographed from three bird-watching huts and bird-watching screens.
The colorful dune valleys of the Zwanenwater
Orchids grow by the thousands along the trail. As many as ten species flower from May to July, from the rare green tuberous orchid to the fragrant night orchid. They give the swan water plenty of color, just like the white parnassia, the pink real cuckoo flower and the yellow big rattle. In August the Zwanenwater turns purple because of the flowering shrub and heather. All that flower abundance attracts butterflies and insects.
Swanwater: Natura 2000 and Wetland
Because of its rich flora and fauna, Zwanenwater has an internationally protected status; it is a Natura 2000 area (nature reserve of European importance) and official Wetland area (wetland nature reserve of international value).
Let's go into Nature
Walking in the Zwanenwater can be done from sunrise to sunset. You can choose from two walking routes (2 and 4.5 kilometers) through the dunes of the Zwanenwater. Along the way you will find bird watching huts and beautiful viewpoints. You can't walk everywhere; tranquility is very important for the birds and other animals of the Zwanenwater. Admission to the Zwanenwater is free for members of Natuurmonumenten and children up to 12 years old. Non-members can buy a 3 euro day ticket (pin or contact). The vending machines are located at the entrance of the nature reserve.
Throughout the year Natuurmonumenten organizes excursions in the Zwanenwater. With the forest ranger you can make long walks, go on a photo safari or participate in children's activities.