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Economic and Social History Blog

51. No blog today (27-5-2020)

No blog today (27-5-2020)

Written by: Jan Luiten van Zanden

Tomorrow I am going to write about the black tern, a very elegant bird. All terns are gracious flyers, but the black tern probably beats his sisters and brothers. You can easily spot him/her breeding near the walking/biking path between Tienhoven and Egelshoek/Hollandse Rading, which is one of the best birding spots near Utrecht anyway (if you are lucky you can hear the Great Bittern (roerdomp) there as well). Coming from Tienhoven, after about 1,5 km, on your right hand you see a bunch of small iron ‘cages’ in the middle of a small lake. In some of these cages, you see black terns breeding – and they are also flying around there, bringing food to their partners (I did not see young chicks yet). The cages are open, and the birds can fly in and out easily, but the cage offers some protection against predators coming from the water. Alternatively, if you prefer to walk, you can take the Bert Bos footpath between Westbroek and Egelshoek – a delightful walk, between thousands of yellow irises and yellow rattles, and enlivened by black terns flying overhead and diving into the canals. But why do black terns breed in iron cages? What does this tell us about Dutch nature that even the most elegant of birds is ‘caged’?

Btw, now that you are walking/biking in that neighbourhood: also visit the picknick tables between Tienhoven and Westbroek (at your right side, after leaving Tienhoven, just before the road turns to the left), where you can see rare little ringed plovers with tiny chicks (if they have not fallen prey to the crows already).

Continue reading: The second domestication (28-5-2020)