Meaning:’we’re living on the wild side here’,  or:  this about the flora and fauna. You choose.

Before I came here, I hadn’t seen a Stork, outside of the pages in a book. Now I’ ve seen plenty and I’m happy to say that I still look again, get out the binoculars and marvel. This one was stalking (!) ponderously alongside a ditch which was being dredged.

Storks like to build their nests high and we’ve seen plenty aloft in trees, but people kindly ut up these platforms for them.

The Dutch are very keen on their small domestic animals and every town has at least one shop providing dog/cat/hamster/rabbit food, bows, beds, combs etc.etc. There are so many cats here. We see them going feral in the fields and walking around the streets, especially in the evenings, as if the town belongs to them. Lots of houses have rabbit hutches in the back gardens. In the villages, chickens are ten a penny, but what surprises me is the popularity of goats. There are goat farms, run on a commercial basis and lots of goats cheese available in the shops (although much of it seems to be French, which is puzzling) but countless gardens or strips of fallow land, have one, two or many goats, grazing and minding their own business.

Deer of one sort or another are more common than in the UK and they do look cute. Probably destined for the freezer though, so I’ll move on.

Of course, with all the water, wetland birds are ubiquitous. I love seeing lapwings taking off from the fields and hope that the rumour they are endangered here is just pessimism. Curlews, knots, swans, pic’n’mix geese, grebes and of course, fiercely territorial coots. I reckon they’re the noisiest species of on the water.

But the birds I love the best are two very common sorts: jackdaws and crows. The street where I live in the UK has its resident jackdaw flock. One came down out chimney last year and it took the combines efforts and brains of a vet, two teachers, one environmentalist and most importantly, a fifteen year old boy, to entice it down into a cat basket so we could release it to its parents, anxiously circling overhead. I don’t know if the jackdaws or crows fall down chimneys here, but they do circle the rooftops, making one hell of a racket and especially just before they roost at night, they fly round in circles, making sure everyone knows they are airborne and having a jolly good time.

Mostly, it’s pretty civilised here. You’re never more than a kilometre from an Albert Heijn or Jumbo (supermarkets.) if you need a haircut, a pair of shoes, anything from a pharmacy or a postcard, it doesn’t take long to track them down. But the wildness comes from the weather and the huge expanses of water, over which a moderate breeze can wind itself up into something of a nuisance. And when they have a thunderstorm,it’s no expense spared. Last week we were safely moored in a harbour, having consulted the weather forecast. These clouds don’t do justice to the howling wind, stair-rod rain and thunder and lightening which followed. Wild indeed!

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