FW: Autumn in a Dutch village



From: Wim Vader <wjm.vader@gmail.com&gt;
Sent: mandag 14. november 2022 16:56
To: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <wim.vader@uit.no&gt;
Subject: Autumn in a Dutch village




In October I spent 3 weeks in the Dutch village of Odijk, just south of Utrecht, where my LAT partner Riet has lived the last 40 years. Odijk is mainly a commuter village of a few thousands inhabitants; it is a very green village, on clay ground, with many streets lined with trees, and a parklike rim along the river Kromme Rijn, that slings around the village. This was the main course of the river Rhine until the Middle Ages; now it is a sleepy backwater, with a footpath along, which allows nice walks

 As Riet had some temporary mobility problems (We are both in the middle 80-ies) we had to give up most of our bigger walking plans and keep to the village mostly. Riet lives in ‘a house in a row’, with a smallish, but luxuriant garden behind and a still smaller one in front. She feeds the birds, i.a. with special peanut butter. The small garden is surprisingly birdy, as is the case in much of the suburban Netherlands. There are always Great and Blue Tits present, with the latter in the majority. A pair of European Robins nested in the garden, and they are still singing a lot; also European Blackbirds, Dunnocks and some years Winter Wrens nest there. Very regular visitors are fat Wood Pigeons, which Riet heartily dislikes, while the Collared Doves this time were largely absent from the garden, as were House Sparrows. Chaffinches are regular, as were Starlings, this time of year in their most beautiful finery; they almost have to ‘play hummingbird’ to get hold of the peanut butter by hovering in front of the glasses. There is also often a Magpie, but that one is exceedingly careful and retreats as soon as he sees movement in the house; my magpies in Tromsø are bolder.

Odijk is a village of Jackdaws, Wood Pigeons and Blackbirds, although these lasts still have not completely recovered from the epidemy a few years ago. The cozy Jackdaws are everywhere (but I never see them in the garden) and in the afternoons hundreds of them are cavorting in the air, all in pairs, preparatory to a common roost somewhere. In the morning, around 8 o’clock, they return in much smaller straggling flocks, and during the day they forage in the streets and are quite tame. House Sparrows are common, but occur somewhat patchily, and on rough ground with thistles there may be small flocks of Goldfinches, while I also saw the first wintering Redwings there. In the air Carrion Crows are regular, as are are skeins of geese, mostly Greylag Geese; it was a bit early for the winter Geese. Earlier this year there was a large influx of Jays, but now there were very few left.

The Robins are singing everywhere and they almost reign supreme; a few times the optimistic strophes of the Winter Wren blend in, and once I heard the jingle of  a Dunnock. All the warblers and swallows had left, but I surprised a small flock of Long-tailed Tits in a village garden. And walks in nearby woodlands yielded woodpeckers and nuthatches. In the meadows often large flocks of mostly Black-headed Gulls, with a few Common and Herring Gulls.

Along and in the Kromme Rijn there are always lots of Coots and Mallards, with a smaller number of Moorhens and Great Crested Grebes. Both some coots and grebes still had large dependent,  loudly begging youngsters, the Grebes still with the characteristic striped heads. At earlier visits there were also always families of Egyptian Geese around, but this time they were almost absent, and I also saw but a single Mute Swan. Grey Herons are always present in some numbers, and I spotted the first Cormorants, locally winter visitors. The gulls are strangely scarce here and in the village itself.


It was clearly autumn, with vibrant autumn colours when I arrived, and steadily increasing heaps of leaves on the ground during these weeks. There were also very many mushrooms,  a group of organisms I greatly admire, but know very little about.


No spectacular or rare birds at all, but very many of them, compared to my hometown Tromsø. Just daily birds in an average Dutch village.


Wim Vader, Tromsø  Norway



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