May 21, 2011

Zuid-Kennemerland National Park (1)

"South Kennemerland is characterized by sand dunes. The park, about 38 square kilometers (15 sq mi) in size, also includes some estates, forests on the dune fringes, and coastal beaches. Most of the area in the dunes is used as a watershed for the city of Haarlem, but there is a small public swimming area open in the summer at a location called the Wed, on the road between Bloemendaal and Zandvoort. The train from Zandvoort to Amsterdam travels through the park."

From the Wikipedia article. Well, I recall swimming in 'the Wed' as a kid and winding up with a rash all over my body when I got home, so something nasty is in that water. Don't know if that's still the case but last year when I was there for a stroll I also noticed that a lot of the wildlife defecated near or on the shores of that lake. Be careful. Who knows what kind of bug is in the waters these days. When you see the pictures of the dunes in Holland you'll often get the notion that it is a very rugged place comprising of wild nature.
To some extent that's true but many items have been introduced. The shrub you see there is natural as are some trees, but many trees have been planted. Planted forests can be easily detected by their placement and general appearance. Often they're conveniently 'packed.' The dunes near the ocean are lush with a tough species of grass. Planted. This was done to counter wind erosion. The dunes are an odd place because it has a bit of everything. Dense forests, shrub, sandy plains and lakes.

These two pictures are of the Bird Lake (Vogelmeer). Stunning place. Right now the place is being 'invaded' by Egyptian Goose, a bird species that was not present in Holland 15 years ago. Other wildlife has been introduced as well in the dunes. Highland cattle, Koniks and Shetland Ponies. (I'll show some pictures of those animals in posts to come.) Deer, foxes and rabbits inhabit the space as well although they are much more camera-shy. The lakes you see are to some extent also artificial because the whole area is used as a water reservoir for the entire region. Even Amsterdam gets its water from the dunes. Pumping stations (although off -limits to the general public) can be found which control the water table. Since the dunes are rich in lime it acts like a water purifier. Just pump water over all that sand and collect it again deep underground and you have filtered, clean water.

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