A walk in Odijk, the Netherlands

A walk in Odijk, the Netherlands

My partner Riet lives in Odijk, a commuter village near Utrecht in the Netherlands, and everytime I stay here, I make the same walk of c one hour, mostly along the little river Kromme Rijn and through suburbia: I have written about this before, just as I feel I have written about everything before by now. Odijk is a green village, with lots of trees, but most gardeners leave little opportunity for ground-nesting birds. It is a village full of Jackdaws, and in the evenings large flocks, consisting almost exclusively of pairs (Jackdaws mate for life) fly around in the village, preparatory to roosting.

The banks of the Kromme Rijn (In Roman times the main course of the Rhine, now a backwater) have been ‘restored’ to a more natural state recently, with as initial result a most luxuriant growth of various thistles, Cirsium spp, now just coming into flower. Other flowers are the beautiful white beakers of the slingplant Calystegia sepium (I don’t have an English plant book here, unfortunately), which in my youth we irreverently called pispotjes, while 20 km further east in Catholic Noord Brabant they were known as the ‘drinking beaker of the Mother of God’. The waterside is many places blue of the marsh forget-me-not Myosotis palustris. There are coots and mallards in the river, both with half grown chicks, while the Great Crested Grebe as usual here , is alone. The inevitable (these latter years) Egyptian Geese have no less than 8 goslings.

There is less bird song here than when I last walked here 10 days ago, but there are still a lot of birds singing> Wrens, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps predominate in the woodland along the Kromme Rijn, while in the gardens in the village the European Blackbirds and Chaffinches predominate. In the evenings here always is a wonderful blackbird concerto, as there is a pair in every garden, and they compete for hours. they are wonderful songsters and I hope the global warming will bring them to Tromso in my lifetime—there are a few already now , mostly in winter time.

Other very common birds here are the Woodpigeons and Collared Doves, while Barn Swallows and Common Swifts hunted over the river. To my surprise a Reed Warbler sang lustily from a minuscule reed field along the river; they are calle onomatopeically Karekiet here, one of the many cases where Dutch bird names derive from their calls (Other examples are Kievit for the Lapwing, Tureluur for the Redshank, Kluut for the Avocet and Kwak for the Night Heron).

There are other birds that are common here, but don’t sing much just now. Riet’s little garden has nesting European Robins and Dunnocks, daily visiting Great and Blue Tits, and also regularly Tree Sparrows, Long-tailed Tits and Nuthatches, while most walks along the river net Mute Swans and Grey Herons, now and then also Moorhens. House Sparrows are common, though not abundant, and the fields along the river hold Starlings and every year a few pairs of Oystercatchers.

Wim Vader, Tromso, Norway

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