Into the wild

Denise Mosbach, Friday, August 30, 2013 , 343 Views

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Amsterdam boasts an incredible biodiversity and it is plain to see why: the city is surrounded by a number of nature reserves that all have their own character. There’s forest (Amsterdamse Bos), grassland (Waterland), swampland (IJburg) and lots of water, from ponds and lakes to the Amsterdam IJ, which is saline. All these areas have their own wildlife. “If you want to see many different plants and animals, Amsterdam is the place to be”, Remco Daalder enthusiastically explains. Until 1999, Daalder was the forest keeper of the Amsterdamse Bos, but nowadays he acts as a city ecologist. “The city is home to 30 different kinds of mammal, 60 breeds of fish and 150 bird species.”

But where and how can we find them? When Daalder lists the animals that live in Amsterdam, even I, as a total nature lover, am impressed. We have breeding kingfishers, birds of prey (sparrow hawks, hawks and peregrines), foxes and even deer exploring the edges of town. Remco is particularly excited about the Diemerpark at IJburg. “It is the youngest park in the city yet it harbours the most amazing wildlife... You can find grass snakes, exotic blue throats and many different birds of prey there. And in the summer, the frogs and toads give a daily concert that is free to attend!” Tram 26, which departs from Central Station, gets you there in 10 minutes.

Remco’s second favourite area is Waterland “which boasts the richest grassland bird community in Europe, with black-tailed godwits, lapwings, oyster catchers, geese and ducks.” All you need to do is rent a bike in town. Once you’ve taken the ferry across the IJ, it only takes 15 minutes to get there.

But the city centre also has plenty to offer. Sit yourself down at one of the many terraces at the famous Nieuwmarkt on a summer’s afternoon and when you look up they're there: swifts. “Amsterdam is a swifts heaven”, says Remco, “but bats will also happily flap their wings around you.” And then there’s the famous ringneck parakeets in Vondelpark. “They escaped their cages in the seventies and their population has now grown to some 5,000.”

A fitting end of your city safari would be an encounter with the real big five. You can find them in Artis, our local zoo for 175 years.

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Into the wild