On the boardwalk

“Under the boardwalk”, as the song goes. But can you spot anyone on the boardwalk?

It’s an Egyptian Goose, perhaps a little surprised – it could be the visual effect of the brown circle around his eyes, or it could be genuine astonishment at the snow, of which there is very little in Egypt! Egyptian Geese are two a penny here – we have got used to them, and apparently they have got used to the weather.

Then we came across another exotic visitor, which I have seen along the banks of the Nile, but never before in Belgium. It’s an egret. What’s the difference between a heron and an egret? Nobody is sure, it seems. The name egret comes from the French Aigrette, which means ‘silver heron’ and also ‘brush’. Though snowy white rather than silver is more accurate.

Their feathers were highly prized by European and American hat-makers in the 19th century, which sadly meant these beautiful birds were killed in large numbers. Senselessly cruel as this seems, we still kill animals for fashion – the Covid-19 outbreaks in mink farms in the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere recently highlighted the scale of mink farming in Europe. This article from Politico makes a solid case for banning mink farming in Europe, and I can’t imagine why that hasn’t happened yet.

A world away from such horrors, the snow draped everything with a gentle frosty coating.

Everything was quiet and still. Even the ducks dived quietly, and the Canada goose (more used to snow, this one) glided gently away.

The medieval priory of Rouge Cloitre in the background. Lakes were stocked with fish for the monks.