Yesterday we visited the annual Vogelfestival (“Bird Fair”), organised by the Dutch State Forestry, SOVON and Vogelbescherming Nederland, the Dutch partner of BirdLife International. It is a major event for bird and birding enthusiasts and is modelled after the British Birdfair held in Rutland Water. The annual Dutch event has grown to include over 100 exhibitors and is attended by more than 15,000 visitors. The fair is held at the Oostvaardersplassen, an important nature reserve (see also our visit there in March 2007).
Yesterday we saw our first Common Kingfisher (‘IJsvogel’) in the Netherlands. Also known as the European Kingfisher, it is the only Kingfisher in the Netherlands and most of Europe. We had just visited the Vogelfestival (“Bird Festival”) in nearby Oostvaardersplassen, an important nature reserve (see also our visit there in March 2007). We had already seen the Common Kingfisher in India (on 26 April 2006) and 9 different species in other countries, but for a long time I wanted to see one in Holland. Finally seeing these two at such close proximity was an exceptionally nice end to a great birding day that was also my birthday.
Check out this July 1980 ad from Byte magazine featuring a great deal on a 10 Megabyte Hard Disk for $3,495 ! At that price my current 250 GB external drive would cost $8,737,500. Computers and storage capacity have come a long way in the last 27 years.
10,000 hungry vultures are causing panic in the Pyrenees and Basque Country. They have been attacking live animals and have also been aggressive towards humans. The vultures are starving due to a new EU directive which prohibits farmers from leaving cattle carcasses on their land to rot. The dead animals must now be burned or disposed of in another way. The initiative is to prevent disease spread among cattle but the results have been devastating for the vultures. More »
We finally had a chance to see Ratatouille yesterday. All the excellent reviews I read in anticipation while waiting for the Dutch release of this film were true; it was another Pixar masterpiece! Rotten Tomatoes has 156 favorable reviews, against just 6 rotten, making it one of the best films of the year. I hope Ratatouille will, like Beauty and the Best, receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. I think it deserves it.
A hunebed (Dutch for ‘Dolmen’) is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, consisting of three or more upright stones (megaliths) supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table). Most date from the early Neolithic period (4000 BC to 3000 BC). The Netherlands have 54 of these prehistoric graves, and 52 are in the province of Drenthe. The largest one is located near the Hunnebedcentrum visitor center in Borger that we visited last Sunday.
Hunebed D27 near the visitor center in Borger
Last Sunday we visited Boomkroonpad (‘Tree Top Path’), a 2,500 hectare (6,000 acre) forest preserve in Drenthe, here in the Netherlands. The main attraction at Boomkroonpad is a path of 125 meters (410 feet) through the tree tops, reaching a height of 22,5 meters (74 feet). Unfortunately it was pouring down on our visit and we didn’t see any birds or wildlife. But still it was an extremely fun walk that we will need to do again once when the weather is better. There is also a very nice visitor center with shop, restaurant and lots of activities and trails.
Entrance to the Boomkroonpad area
Passengers of the Python roller coaster in the Dutch theme park De Efteling were lucky to survive a serious incident yesterday. The double-loop roller coaster (constructed in 1981) had gotten stuck at a high point of the track, with its first few cars hanging over the the incline. More »