My last trip was in February, a long time ago. Work took all my attention, but during the leisure days I tried to discover new places. I met a new group of friends and we go on hiking tours together or visit musea, a concert or any other interesting event. Through these people, I discover many treasures of The Netherlands. Still, on various occasions I go exploring on my own and enjoy the tranquility of the countryside.
A remarkable place is Zwillbrock (Zwilbroek for the Dutch), just a hundred meter over the border into the municipality of Vreden, Germany and very close to my hometown. People say, that the border here never excisted; it was centuries long a place where German and Dutch people mingled together. This tiny village is proud owner of the Church of St. Francis, a baroque church and former monastary with a long history. In 1651 the first church was built on these grounds, which became an escape for the Catholics from The Netherlands, who were banned in their own country. The St. Francis church is dating from the early 18th century and although rich in decor, still beautiful in simplicity. Nearly every Sunday at 16.30 there are performances in the church. Many musicians are eager to play in this historic intimate ambience!
Zwillbrock is also famous for The Zwillbrocker Venn, the most Northern breeding area for flamingoes in Europe and a birdreserve with more than 100 different birdspecies. The only time I saw flamingoes in the wild, was on the island of Bonaire (Caribbean). Never thought I would encounter those beautiful creatures again, so close to my home! The first Chilean flamingoes arrived in 1982 and until now nobody knows where they were coming from. A few years later, also European flamingoes joined the group. After raising their chicks, they will leave again until the next year. For more information, visit the Educational Centre at Zwillbrock Biological Station.
The best time to watch the flamingoes is from April till the summer. Sometimes they are gone in June already. There are different birdwatching stations and with my 60 x zoom camera, I can get some nice shots.
I hike the roundabout of a rough 7 km along the shallow lake and marshland, witnessing many black-headed gulls and other birdspecies. On purpose, I choose a weekday and walk for more than an hour, without encountering other hikers.