Where the River Rhine enters The Netherlands, the name of the river changes to Waal. The 'Oude Waal’ means the 'Old Waal’. It is a shallow old river arm which attracts many birds all year round. It’s located close to the city of Nijmegen and you can walk to the Oude Waal easily from the city. On the water and in the surrounding thickets lots of nice birds can be found. During migration everything can turn up here. From Black Stork to Caspian Tern, numerous waders, herons, ducks and geese. The special attraction are the nesting Black Tern. You can get pretty close to the breeding birds. They don’t really care about you, because there is ten meters of water between you and them. An ideal spot for photographers. The area is also good for Eurasian Spoonbill, Common Kingfisher, Common Cuckoo, Grasshopper Warbler, European Stonechat, Marsh Warbler, European Goldfinch, Linnet, Eurasian Kestrel. A recently created new riverarm just north of de Oude Waal houses a big colony of Sand Martin.
Bluethroat and sometimes Bearded Tit are most easily seen in the reeds in front of the hamlet of Tiengeboden. In winter you can see massive amounts of Greylag Goose and Greater White-fronted Goose on the open water, and lots of different kind of ducks. Smew en Goosander are regular wintervisitors. Don’t forget to look out for Common Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail around the ‘Hollands-Duits gemaal’ (an old pumping station) and at the fish ladder running behind it. A couple of years ago a White-throated Dipper resided here all winter.
You can cycle around the entire wetland, or do it by foot. It’s about a 6 km circular walk. You can also take a shortcut (see the map). If you walk from the city, the best place to start your walk is under the Waal-bridge at the waterfront in Nijmegen. From there a small bridge takes you directly into nature. But before you leave, check out the arches of the big Waal-bridge where Peregrine Falcon often are resting. After crossing the small bridge the walk starts. First it is a narrow path and later on a paved road that leads you through the scrubby fields on the north side. You make a loop and return back to the city via the southside of the wetland. From there you walk on a high dyke with excellent views on the Oude Waal. The first part when you return are the reedlands at the hamlet of Tiengeboden, with Bluethroat, Reed Bunting and if you are very lucky Great Bittern and Bearded Tit. After the reedbeds you come to the open water. That’s where the Black Tern nest and many waterbirds can be seen. Pay special attention to the small island with bushes that you find halfway. Depending on the waterlevel, there are always some special birds to be seen here. Here the birds can be at a distance, so a scope is handy. After that you pass the new café/restaurant Oude Waal, which has a terrace overlooking the Oude Waal. If you continue at the end the Holland-Duits Gemaal always deserves a check on birds. From the Hollands-Duits Gemaal it’s only a 5-minute walk back to the city.
If you choose to explore The Oude Waal by bike, then start at the Hollands-Duits gemaal, and take the first paved road (Vlietberg) on your left. A small part of the route is unpaved, but still easy to do by bike. If your arrive by car, the best place to park and start is at the Parking marked on the map.
Terrain and HabitatScattered trees and bushes, Wetland, Grassland, River, Lake, Reedbeds, Agriculture
ConditionsFlat, Open landscape, High water possible
Is a telescope useful?Can be useful
Good birding seasonAll year round
Best time to visitSpring
RoutePaved road, Unpaved road, Wide path
Difficulty walking trailAverage walk
Accessible byFoot, Bicycle
Birdwatching hide / platformNo
The Ooijpolder borders the city of Nijmegen and has more rich birdingplaces: You can combine the Oude Waal with De Groenlanden, De Bizonbaai, or the beautiful Millingerwaard.