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(Alphen a/d Rijn)

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Double Nosehorn Bird- Avifauna

On my visit toHolland, I could not possibly leave out Alphen a/d Rijn, the place where I had lived many years ago and received most of my formal education.I was very curious how this place had changed in the 19 years that I was away. When I was there in 1979 I found that is had not changed all that much since I last saw it, but this time there were a lot of changes. An entire area, where once cows grazed and farms stood and where we went biking after school, was transformed into a nature park with an artificial lake for recreation, hiking tracks and forest even ! No more polders where you could see forever and ever with great skies above. I was trying to find an old farm where my friend used to live . The farm where she lived was a historical place where once Jacoba van Beieren lived, hundreds of years ago. It had secret passages and rooms and as children we had a great time playing there.

l also found my old primary school. It had not much changed at all, only the trees got taller and it had a new name, a number actually.

It used to be called Da Costa School. Here (right) is a picture of it :

We stayed at the Van der Valk Hotel in Alphen a/d Rijn which is situated at the Avifauna Bird Park. This park, with an outside restaurant, which we used to go to in the olden days, has been there even before I came to live in Alphen a/d Rijn , 44 years ago. The Van der Valk Hotels are a chain of Hotels all over The Netherlands and Europe and now also have opened branches in some of the Dutch Caribbean islands. I found them to be very good and very economical too. We had dinner at the restaurant and it looked as if nothing had changed there, even the furniture ! We overnighted at the Hotel and took a tour through the Bird Park the next morning. I must say that they did a wonderful job in those years that I have not been there.

Double Nose Horn Bird from Indonesia


Many endangered bird species live there and an attempt was made to make their habitats as close as possible to those in the wild. Small buildings in their enclosures had nests on top of their roofs for example.
There are a petting farm and a horse menagerie where one can get riding lessons; a new swimming pool with waterslides and a playground for children and several more restaurants inside the Park.

But the most spectacular displays are the well-kept birds. This park is considered to be one of the largest Bird Parks in the world. You can see there birds you may never have encountered before, I certainly saw many there which were strange to me. There are flamingos, owls, birds of prey, pelicans, storks, penguins ,swans , parrots etc etc.

Those birds which cannot survive in a cold climate, have a small house inside their living areas. What struck me is, that many birds were free to fly away, but did not. They did, however fly from one side of a lake to another or to the small island in the middle of the lake (the pelicans).


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