On Saturday, 12 June, a group of 30 enthusiastic NTAB members and sympathizers gathered at the entrance of the Zwin Nature Reserve at Knokke for a two-and-a-half hour walk in what is known as one of the finest nature reserves of Flanders.
As usual, André had prepared this outing with great care.
We set off in language groups, while following the covid-guidelines within each group, and were joined by two guides, one for the English-speakers, the other for the Dutch-speakers. The guides proved to be superb: both were highly knowledgeable and very entertaining. And as good guides do, they alternated their moments of talking with periods of silence so as to allow participants to fully enjoy the surroundings.
The Zwin Nature Park presents itself as a ‘birds’ airport’. Some species can be found there throughout the year, whereas others are migrants and can only be seen during certain times of the year. June happened to be the nesting season for storks, and we could see quite a number of young chicks preparing for their first flight in July.
But our guides introduced us also to other smaller, but equally fascinating worlds: those of frogs, insects, plants and flowers, all present in abundance and thriving during this period of the year. They invited us to ‘taste’ some of the plants and flowers with culinary qualities. And they took us briefly on a historic tour going back to the 12th century when the Zwin was part of the waterway which gave the city of Bruges access to the sea. Present-day challenges to the Zwin Nature Reserve, such as climate change or building projects in the immediate neighbourhood of the Zwin (!), were also mentioned.
Our guides seemed to be pleasantly surprised by the interest shown by our members who engaged in lively conversations with them.
All in all, a most enjoyable, interesting and pleasant outing, connecting easily with the spirit of the National Trust.
After the tour in the Sonian Forest in May, the Zwin outing convinced us all of the value of more open air NTAB activities.
After the tour some participants lingered on in the Zwin restaurant.