September 30, 2015
I photographed this dragonfly at the Noorderheide, near Vierhouten in The Netherlands. Although one of the most common and widespread dragonflies in Europe, it’s also one of the most spectacular due to its size and bright colors. Normally you wouldn’t expect this species at an otherwise 'arid' heather moorland were the water level is 35 meters (38.3 yards) below ground level… Instead one finds mysterious artificial ponds and streams, attracting a multitude of wildlife. This 18 hectares (44 acres) estate once belonged to Rotterdam harbor business magnate D.G. van Beuningen (known from the renowned Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen), who – around 1935 – had 2,5 km of artificial streams and 18 ponds constructed. As well as four little pyramid shaped follies. The precise reasons behind both projects are lost in the mists of time, but a local group of volunteers has gone to great lengths to restore them to their former magic.
This former estate comes from a time when it was possible for wealthy businessmen – so not just aristocrats – to buy large plots of land, mostly for hunting. Another famous example of such an estate in the Netherlands is National Park ‘De Hoge Veluwe’, which was originally acquired in 1909 by businessman Anton Kröller and his wife Helene Kröller-Müller and meant as their private hunting estate as well as home to their personal art collection. After being in the market myself for several years to acquire an estate of my own, I decided that enjoying other people’s / foundation’s property makes much more sense and saves a lot of up-keep… :) And thats exactly the beauty of it. Fast forward to 2015 means that those estates are now enjoyed by lots of people and that the originally owners unwittingly made sure there are still vast expanses of nature to be found in one of the most densely populated countries on earth.