Cows and Other wildlife

salt marsh Noarderleech – province Friesland


Throughout the centuries the Frisians have a reputation for being mixed up with concept and animal species.

It started with ‘Frisian trade’ being synonymous for capitalism and free trade in the Early Middle Ages. The North Sea even being named the Mare Fresicum (Frisian Sea). Later, in the High Middle Ages, being ‘free’ was being ‘Frisian’. You would say: “Vry ende Freesch” ‘free and Frisian’.

After the Frisians ‘invented’ a cow that produced milk like a +2400MHz computer processor, ‘Frisians’ and ‘Frisian cows’ were worldwide interchangeable concepts. Nobody knew the difference anymore. Of course, very funny jokes exists also in Germany about the interchangeability of cows and Frisian people, and especially how many Frisians (i.e. cows) fit in a Volkswagen car.

Not only confusion about cows, though. These days, when you hear people speak in, for example Texas, about a Frisian or Friesian do double check whether they are not, in fact, talking about a horse. 

​The black and white patched-coat Frisian cow is actually the Frisian-Holland cow, FH for short. And, it is nearly extinct, alas. A few thousand are left. The FH was bred in the nineteenth century, and farmers especially in the area north of the city of Leeuwarden in province of Friesland, the Netherlands became ghastly rich with Arabic princes (no joke!) and other buyers coming from all over the world with bags of money and hacked silver. Their big farm houses near the village of Stiens are a testimony of these golden days.

​The milk production of an FH used to be around 7,000 litres a year. Somehow typically for Frisian culture is the importance the Frisians attach to stylistic and harmonic features. Like their farmhouses with bizarre tall orange roofs and like their elegant, curly black horses, the same applies for the FH cow. For instance, the black patches should have sharp borders with the surrounding white of the coat. The backbone of the cow should be a straight and horizontal line. As straight as their treeless landscape. And many more of these features. Farmers can still be very nostalgic about the forms of this old breed, and they nickname the newer, current Holstein-Friesian (HF) breed -a creation of American farmers- a bonkerak (meaning: bone rack). However, the HF produces more than 8,000 litres a year, and has less lactation.

​Besides the black and white patch-coat FH cows, another Frisian cow is at the brink of extinction even more, namely the red and white patched-coat Frisian. An estimated 300 of this red skin breed are left. The reason for its unpopularity? Discrimination. They are not black. No kiddin’. Being black is associated with producing more milk. The foundation Roodbont Fries Vee is trying to save this red Frisian breed from disappearing from the surface of the earth. Red Lives Matter (too).

And it was the twelfth-century Welsmen, Wizo Flandrensis, who already said in his Itinerarium Fresiae, that the Frisians do produce wine nor olive oil, but only milk and cows.

Other Wild Life

The Big Ten 
  1. European bison (en); Wisent (de); visenten (da); wisent (ne); wisent (mf)
  2. fallow deer (en); Damhirsch (de); dådyr (da); damhert (ne); deim (mf)
  3. grey seal (en); Keggelrobbe (de); gråsæl (da); kegelrob (ne); grize seehûn (mf)
  4. harbor seal (en); Seehund (de); spættet sæl (da); gewone zeehond (ne); seehûn (mf)
  5. highland cattle (en); Hochlandrind (de); højlandskvæg (da); Schotse hooglander (ne); Skotske Heechlanner (mf)
  6. Polish primitive horse (en); Konik (de); konikken (da); konik (ne); konik (mf)
  7. porpoise (en); Schweinswal (de); marsvin (da); bruinvis (ne); brúnfisk (mf)
  8. sturgeon (en); Stör (de); stør (da); steur (ne); steur (mf)
  9. swan (en); Schwäne (de); svaner (da); zwaan (ne); swan (mf)
  10. white-tailed eagle (en); Seeadler (de); havørn (da); zeearend (ne); earn (mf)

​Wolves have been spotted sporadically also in northern Germany and the Netherlands the last few years, the area of the Coast Trail. But for now it is not a permanent wild inhabitant of the trail, although the first cubs have been born in the Netherlands. Do not be afraid, yet.

​Highland cattle, Polish primitive horses (koniks) are not native and have been introduced in the Netherlands. Highland cattle to replace the extinct aurochs (Bos primigenius) and can be found anywhere in the Netherlands. The koniks in dune landscape of North Holland, in Dune Reserve North Holland. The wisent has been reintroduced into the dune landscape of North Holland, the National Park Zuid-Kennemerland. In National Park the Biesbosch you even come across water-buffaloes. If you think it is weird, it actually is not, since in pre-historic times buffaloes did roam the wetlands of the Netherlands too.

Wadden Sea Flying Five 
  1. dunlin (en); Alpenstrandläufer (de); almindelig ryle (da); bonte strandloper (ne); bûnte gril (mf)
  2. oystercatcher (en); Austernfischer (de); strandskade (da); scholekster (ne); strânljip (mf)
  3. shelduck (en); Brandgans (de); gravand (da); bergeend (ne); berchein (mf)
  4. brent goose (en); Ringelgans (de); mørkbuget knortegås (da); rotgans (ne); rotsje/rotgoes (mf)
  5. herring gull (en); Silbermöwe (de); sølvmåge (da); zilvermeeuw (ne); sulverkob/kôb (mf)

​The herring gull deserves a bit more attention. Not only is listed on the list of endangered species, it is also the companion of the coastal dweller, for better or worse. Read our blog post Rats with wings or Masters of the Sky. For more birds you can encounter hiking the Frisia Coast Trail, find here on Pinterest the album Fûgelguod Top 50, with bird names in Mid-Frisian, Dutch and English.

​And, quite on its way back, is the white-tailed eagle or sea eagle. In 2020 already twenty nesting couples have been registered. Place along the trail where you might be lucky to see them are National Park Lauwersmeer or National Park the Biesbosch and province Zeeland.

​Shark attack
  1. mud shark (en); Dornhai (de); pighaj (da); doornhaai (ne); doarnhaai (mf)
  2. porbeagle (en); Heringshai (de); sildehaj (da); haringhaai (ne); hjerringhaai (mf)
  3. sandy dogfish (en); Kleingefleckter Katzenhai (de); småplettet rødhaj (da); hondshaai (ne); hûnshaai (mf)
  4. school shark (en); Hundshai (de); skolehaj (da); ruwe haai (ne); rûge haai (mf)
  5. nurse-hound (en); Große Katzenhai (de); storplettet rødhaj (da); kathaai (ne); kathaai (mf)

​You can relax and go swimming in the brown, cold North Sea. No shark attacks have been reported, thus far, along the Frisia Coast Trail.

North Sea Swimming Five Fish
  1. angler (en); Seeteufel (de); havtaske (da); zeeduivel (ne); seeduvel (mf)
  2. mackerel (en); Makrele (de); makrel (da); makreel (ne); makriel (mf)
  3. common sole (en); Seezunge (de); søtunge (da); tong (ne); tong (mf)
  4. whiting (en); Wittling (de); hvilling (da); wijting (ne); witing (mf)
  5. European flounder (en); Flunder (de); skrubbe (da); bot (ne); bot (mf)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: