Yesterday I went to Malieveld, the first time in a few months. The last time I was there it was summer and oh so nice and warm… but I chose to avoid it for a while because of the carnival taking up most of the area.
On the way to Malieveld I passed by Koekamp, a small park with deer, swan and ducks. This time I saw more swans then I ever have:
In the background joggers and cyclists rush past. I also saw a swan chasing after two poor ducks for whatever reason. Maybe they stole its lunch?
It’s definitely fall now. Leaves are falling off the trees in buckets, with a cold breeze and spitting rain (motregen in Dutch).
The birds were back this afternoon, and this time they stayed for almost an hour. Fun fact: it actually sounds more like a low, distant rumble when you have hundreds of birds chirping outside your back door.
I don’t think you can fit any additional birds in that tree. And that was actually the smaller tree. The birds also claimed a much larger tree next to this one as their own, but it was less photogenic.
When I went to the kitchen to clean up after dinner this evening I heard a strange noise. At first I thought it was water running, making me think it was raining outside. But no – I looked outside and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The ground was (relatively) dry.
…Until waves and waves of birds flew up over our apartment complex. Hundreds of birds, flying in undulating waves, this way and that. It looked like my own personal nature screensaver. After a few minutes most of them landed on the large tree on the other side of the apartment complex. It made me wonder: could those thin branches really could hold 8 to 10 birds without snapping? (I could not help thinking of Pixar’s short For the birds on Youtube.) I stood and watched for a while until they left. I mean, it is definitely better than washing dishes, right?
Unconfirmed rumor: Grand Prix to return to Zandvoort on 2 May 2021 from nltimes.nl. The first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 was supposed to be held this year, but was postponed due to the corona crisis. I suppose it is a rumor, but really – how could Zandvoort not be on the 2021 race calendar?
The only problem – which you can see coming with the date of March 10, 2020 in the article from thehagueonline.com – is the corona crisis rearing its ugly head. The carefully scheduled events and tours now read tijdelijk niet beschikbaar or temporarily not available.
In other news:
The Dutch corona app will be called CoronaMelder (nltimes.nl) and will use Bluetooth. CoronaMelder translates to Corona Reporter.
Kuikentjes bevrijd op de Oude Trambaan from regio15.nl – baby chicks fell through a pedestrian bridge and couldn’t get out on their own. They were ultimately freed by firemen who removed a few of the bridge planks to reach the chicks.
The Guardian has a very interesting article called ‘Landscape of fear’: what a mass of rotting reindeer carcasses taught scientists although that topic admittedly isn’t for everyone. But there’s an informative tie-in with the Dutch Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve (where thousands of animals ended up starving due to a lack of predators in the area) and the ultimate changes to the ecosystem which occurred because of the abandoned carcasses. This caused a great amount of controversy in The Netherlands because it was a conscious choice not to feed the animals to help them survive the winter.
A few days ago I had to make a trip to Albert Heijn to get some groceries. On the way there I saw a flock of pigeons just lounging around listlessly. One of them was even lying down, not caring at all that people were walking only a few feet away from it.
The birds have a pretty good life in this city. Plenty of food and not many predators. We also have a lot of seagulls that hang around in The Hague. At first I thought they come over from the nearby beach in Scheveningen but they seem to hang around in The Hague year-round. I once saw 20-30 seagulls screeching loudly at some point across the street and dive bombing the area, only to realize after a few seconds that some woman had dumped a lot of old stale bread over the railing down to the street below. That bread was completely gone, with the exception of crumbs, in less than 30 seconds.
Of course, on the way back, the same pigeon pictured above was there, still not moving…
While I was at my parents’ last weekend, we noticed a huge swarm of birds pecking in the backyard grass. They just kept coming, and coming, and coming… and then at one point, they all flew off (at the same time of course, in only the uncanny way birds can achieve). But they didn’t go far – only to the roof in the front of the house.
Back and forth, back and forth, from the front yard to the back. At some point, they all flew away together for good:
In the background, you can see a local community college. Just beyond our fence is protected prairie grass – it is against the law to cut it. It extends down the entire subdivision, in both directions. We lucked out however – just on the left side, you can see a small natural path of grass. W’e’re one of the few houses which has a path out to the college. Everyone else has to walk a bit.
Of course, the one thing the prairie grass hides is coyotes – we could never leave the dogs unattended while they were outside. I heard you could sometimes see coyote eyes staring back at you at night…