Collie week on the coast of the Netherlands - Part 5
Visit on the beach of the North Sea:
After having crossed the levee a very special feast for the eyes occurred.
Since a couple of years mussel and oyster banks exist in this bay and attract other animal inhabitants that rarely can be seen that close:
Thus, they are attractive sunny spots for the wild seals that are more abundant once again in this area:
Birds like seagulls also love these places:
While the dogs browsed through the crystal clear water on the shore, we had some time to observe the activities of the seals.
Common seals, as well as horsehead seals that are abundant in the German coastal waters, both belong to the seals or to be more precise to the true seals.
They are not as big as their relatives, but still reach a length of approximately 1.4 meters (females) and 1.7 meters (males). Their weight is between 100 and 150 kilograms.
Being excellent swimmers, they feed on various fish species which they catch during their dives. Most of the times they are underwater for a few minutes, but they also can dive up to half an hour and go as deep as 200 meters.
One of the seals swimming:
As elegantly as they swim in the waters, as clumsily they move ashore. Climbing out of the water often is not easy and cannot be achieved on the first attempt:
The rest that follows is truly deserved:
Seals rather are solitary animals by natures. Solely on the sunny spots one can find them in groups, nevertheless concerned about keeping some distance.
Males that come to close to each other tend to inflict bleeding bites, females are more peaceable.
A brief contact only occurs during mating in the summer months, performed in the water. Afterwards each one moves on and parts company. After 11 months gestation period usually only one young animal is born. With almost 90 cm of length and a weight of 10 kg it already is able to swim and stays a bit over a month with the mother to be nursed. After this time she leaves it to its own. In the beginning they feed on shellfish and mollusks until the hunting for fish is perfected.
Young seals that are still being nursed are called baby seals or howler. They too are left alone from time to time when their mother supplies herself with nutritious fish to keep her milk flowing. Unfortunately it happens over and over again that the left-behind young animals are picked up by so-called animal protectionists who think the mother had an accident and would not come back. These people cause great damage by doing so. For this reason, the natural retreat areas of the seals are closed for visitors and made inaccessible. Hence, we are lucky to be able to observe wild seals today. A very unique spectacle indeed!
In the background the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier can be seen. It is a gigantic example of architecture and often called the eighths wonder of the world. It consists of 65 massive concrete piers; each 65 meters high and weighing up to 18,000 tons and big steel doors that are 6 to 12 meters high weighing up to 500 tons. These can be closed during heavy storms and imminent flooding which is the case once a year in average. There are some levees between the barriers that add to the protection. All this sums up to an overall length of 9 kilometers. The Netherlands are haunted by heavy storm surges frequently. The last one that was especially heavy was in 1953 and it caused the death of more than 1800 people. The next one has actually been overdue for a long time. In the meantime gigantic barriers exist on the other big inlets (Delta Works). Some of these reach far inland into the Netherlands. Only the Western Scheldt remained open as this is also the access to the important harbor in Antwerp. If the many barriers wouldn’t exist, storm surges would flood two thirds of the Netherlands.
Afterwards we continued to Zierikzee:
This is one of the oldest cities, established around 850. Because of the strategically important location it repeatedly played a significant role in the war between the Flemings and Hollanders. In the year 1200 Zierikzee received town charter and developed into an important trade city. Around the year 1300 the fights started once again. An army of around 120 000 Flemings tried in vain to capture the city from the land side as well as from the sea side.
The Zuidhavenpoort is one of three of the town’s oldest city gates and was constructed in the 15th century. One can find the oldest Glockenspiel of the Netherlands (1554) which previously hang in the old town hall.
The old city center with many historic buildings is accessible over the drawbridge.
After a nice stroll through the city, during which of course the creature comforts were not neglected, we went back:
This time we crossed the Zeeland Bridge. With more than 5 km in length it is the longest bridge of the Netherlands. Despite its height it still is an obstacle for very large vessels. For this reason a 40 meter long bascule bridge was built in. As vehicles are prone to wind, the bridge is frequently closed for cars with trailers and trucks. But sometimes even full closures occur according to wind force.
We let the day end with a delicate barbecue and cozy togetherness.
The dogs enjoyed the collective play:
Today we undertook a walk through the unique natural environment behind Oostkapelle. The knobby trees did not carry leaves yet but were no less impressive:
The enormous rhododendron woods are beautifully created and sometimes many meters high:
Later during the blossom time they awaken to their complete magnificence:
Also wonderful to look at are the extensive areas with narcissus in their blossom time:
And here we are in the striking dune landscape:
The sea to the other side:
With Domburg in the background:
The tide ways of the flowing off water are always inviting, also for hydrophobic dogs. Thus they get used to the cool water:
Of course the creature comforts were taken care of in the beach restaurant:
and back through the dunes. In this area often herds of horses living half wild can be seen:
A visit to the beach on the North Sea near the North Sea Dam on our last day:
Many “islands” also appear here when the water flows off:
They are very tempting for frolicking around:
Nice cafés on the beach invite you to linger:
On the other side of the dam, we see the shine of the Veerse Meer:
A little detour to Veere at the end:
This old and small town once was an important trade city.
Today it is a picturesque and idyllic village:
The historic town hall was constructed in the year 1500
likewise the defense tower with its fortifications:
A little stop in the café:
The Dutch care for nice temperatures on the patios of their many restaurants and cafés in the cooler season.
Sadly it’s time to say goodbye once again to this wonderful and beautiful country with its hospitality that extends in particular also to dogs, children and disabled persons. We already look forward very much to the next reunion!