Local Heart, Global Soul

March 6, 2017

Casualties Of War, Casualties Of Our Feathered Friends And More…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

During our 2016 visit to Texel’s Eierland lighthouse, I learned that towers and nature do not always mix.

A plaque on the wall reads: “The lighthouse offered safety to seamen, but it was very dangerous for birds.

Thousands of migrating birds used to smash against the lighthouse.

They were attracted by the light, particularly during cloudy, moonless nights. Every morning the lighthouse keeper walked around the building with a wheelbarrow, picking up dead birds.

Later on, a fence was placed around the lamp and the building itself was also illuminated.

Since then, the number of victims has dropped considerably. However the lighthouse continues to attract birds. As a result of this several local owls have learned to come here to hunt them.”

Hmmm, ok, It seems that one bird’s loss is another bird’s gain. Hopefully one day we will learn of a method that  deters birds from coming to the tower at all.
It is not only birds who have met their end here, another plaque tells me: “Hundreds of wrecks have sunk in the shallow waters around Eyerland. Most of them have been documented.

The most important wrecks are shown on this map. The ships that sunk could rarely be saved: the same held true for their crew.

If nothing else, a light beacon would decrease the danger during dark stormy nights. More than enough reason to build the lighthouse on Texel.”
Of course the vast majority of these wrecks occurred in the centuries before radar, sonar and modern technology. There was generally little hope for crews because standard practice was that sailors never learned to swim,  superstitiously believing that learning to do so would prolong their suffering when death by drowning became their fate.

Added to this, heavy clothes, severe weather and extreme cold usually meant that they didn’t stand a chance. This lighthouse has seen many scenes of carnage, be that of beasts of the natural world, soldiers in combat or sailors at sea. It’s possible to get  ticket and walk to the top: we are warned that there are 118 steps and they are very steep. Clearly I am walking that lot in my dreams. I wait below whilst the others go up and enjoy the views. They tell me that they can see a huge amount of the island, but that the wind up there almost has them off their feet. Sheltering in the small space by the door at ground level is clearly a good idea.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wikipedia /Eierland Lighthouse / Texel, The Netherlands.

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