November 28, 2018

Goose’s honking betrays huge XTC lab

Filed under: Animals,General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 2:40 pm

In the village of Sint Willebrord, North Brabant, people were illegally producing XTC in a large lab in some warehouse, making barrels of cash while keeping their activities on the down low.

Then, one day the cops came knocking on the lab door because they heard a goose honking like the end of the world was coming, on the train tracks near their secret lab.

The goose was a regular at the neighbour’s property, but possibly didn’t like the weird noises it heard and when it heard them, started honking like crazy, waking up the neighbour in the middle of the night. The neighbour then woke up to see a suspicious van making several runs in the night, put two and two together and figured out drugs were being produced.

The neighbour then told the police what she saw, and that’s when the cops went to check it all out.

The cops arrested the 70-year-old owner who claimed to know nothing, saying he rented the warehouse to some guys who paid him cash up front and refused to let him see what they were doing. The owner’s lawyer attacked the woman’s claim, saying ‘she honks as loud as the goose does’, but stick and stones, the man is looking at three years in prison.

The cops had a good day, seizing 1.2 million euro worth of raw materials for producing XTC pills. They said the whole place smelled of anise, a characteristic smell of synthetic drugs. The theory is that the goose wasn’t honking over noise, but about the smell of anise, which attracted it, if we believe the Internet. And since the drugs were made at night, the smell was then at its strongest.

The moral of this story is that the cops were not sent on a wild goose chase.


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March 23, 2016

Robot falcon wins Tech Transfer award in Ljubljana

Filed under: Animals,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 5:02 pm

geese-don-deboldA mechanic peregrine falcon was named the best innovation of the year at the European Robotics Forum in Ljubljana this week, Tubantia reports.

The winning robot is called Robird and is made by Clear Flight Solutions from Enschede, a spin-off of the University of Twente. It mimics the flight of the peregrine falcon and is used to keep the air space near airports clear from birds such as geese.

In an interview in 2014 with RTV Noord Holland (see below), CEO Nico Nijenhuis said that real falcons will only hunt when hungry. They also tire quickly. “Once [a peregrine falcon] has made two flights in a row, it’s really tired. [Our robot] on the other hand keeps going. You swap out a battery and it’s good to go.”

Clear Flight Solutions received 1.6 million euro in funding from the Cottonwood Technology Fund last week and is in talks with Schiphol Airport for a pilot project [pun unavoidable]. Nijenhuis told RTL Nieuws last week: “Dutch rules are very strict, but we expect to have our paperwork in order within six weeks.”

See also: Scaring off seagulls with drones in Haarlem

(Photo of geese flying by Don DeBold, some rights reserved)

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March 11, 2015

Unwanted animals turned into fancy snack food

Filed under: Animals,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 10:20 am


In 2011 Amsterdam artist Rob Hagenouw contacted some hunters and scored geese to create his own croquette recipe. It was a big deal because by law geese cannot be killed unless they are deemed a nuisance, like the geese at Schiphol airport.

Hagenouw’s project The Kitchen of the Unwanted Animal (‘Keuken van het ongewest dier’) is a food truck in Amsterdam that sells snack food made from unwanted animals like muskrat, horse, pigeon, crawfish and parakeet. Unwanted means that these animals are not indigenous to the Netherlands (crawfish), are no longer being cared for as pets (horse) or are a nuisance (geese). Instead of killing these animals and throwing them out, Hagenouw and his partner Nicolle Schatborn decided to build a whole cuisine around them that’s getting international attention.

Although rabbit was not on the list yet, they are considered a plague, although a hugely cute one.

(Link:, Tip: Fred, thanks!)

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December 20, 2014

Netherlands taxes barnacle geese’s immune system

Filed under: Animals by Orangemaster @ 12:19 pm


Dutch scientists have suggested an explanation for why Dutch barnacle geese have a less active immune system once they’ve migrated to Spitsbergen, Norway than when they winter in the Netherlands. “The birds on Spitsbergen appear to invest much less energy in their immune systems, particularly general resistance to disease. Researchers suspect that this might be because there are far fewer pathogens [like bird flu] in the North than here in the Netherlands.”

With their immune systems taxed less, the geese have more energy available to reproduce and change feathers, which the Dutch birds don’t. This means that the geese appear able to adjust their immune systems according to the risk of catching a disease.

(Links:,, Photo of barnacle goose by Andreas Trepte, some rights reserved)

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August 20, 2012

Jackdaw rules Dutch cities

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 11:22 am

The jackdaw (kauw in Dutch) is the most common city bird in the Netherlands, AD reports.

A census held by Sovon shows that of the 375,000 birds counted, 49,000 are jackdaws. Other popular city birds are the blackbird, the wood pigeon, the sparrow and the swift.

The jackdaw population has increased by 15% since 2006, but is only slowly on the rise. In the same timeframe, the Canada Goose has seen an increase of 372%, the stork of 201% and the gadwall of 146%. These are, however, relatively rare birds.

Birds that are rapidly disappearing from cities include the starling (obviously nobody counted birds in front of my favourite seafood store in Amsterdam neighbourhood De Pijp for this one), the robin and the great cormorant, my favourite. Because cormorants need to dive deep for fish, they allow their feathers to get wet. When they sit on lamp posts and in trees, spreading their wings to dry, they look like angels watching over the living.

In Europe, jackdaws are the smallest of the ‘true crows’. You can tell them apart from crows because jackdaws have a shiny, silverish head. They can be domesticated, and indeed we kept one when I was a kid, although keeping them is no longer legal these days. Ours was called Jacky, obviously!

(Photo by Kalle Gustafsson, some rights reserved)

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May 4, 2008

Rebel-rouser geese caused most damage in 2007 and before

Filed under: Animals by Branko Collin @ 12:56 pm

In 2007 the Faunafonds paid 4.4 million euro to people claiming to have suffered damages at the paws and wings of geese, more than two thirds of all damages paid. Faunafonds is the fund that has a duty to try and reimburse those that suffered extraordinary damage from protected animals. In total it paid out 6.04 million euro, according to the fund’s annual report (PDF, Dutch). The goose has been the major troublemaker in the Netherlands it would seem for at least the past six years, with the common vole putting in a spirited cameo appearance in 2005.

For your ultimate statistical thrill-seeking pleasures I have put the table from page 13 of the annual report, containing damages paid per animal in tab separated value format here.

Via Toby Sterling, who has a thing or two about what he thinks about all this. Photo by Marco Raaphorst, some rights reserved.

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March 14, 2008

Duck, duck, goose head

Filed under: Animals by Orangemaster @ 1:56 pm

I used to translate stuff about Belgians throwing cats from belfries and swallowing live goldfish during century-old ceremonies and other mischief, but the Dutch in Limburg also have something albeit less way traumatising they don’t want to give up so easily. Then again, the media often reports that the Party for the Animals (PvdD) submits like 200 motions a day to Parliament, so no surprise that this becomes news.

Ganstrekken, the practice of pulling the head off a dead goose during Carnival celebrations in the Limburg village of Grevenbicht (just 2,500 inhabitants), is not decent behaviour but will not be banned, farm minister Gerda Verburg told MPs yesterday. Granting a licence for the tradition is up to the local council, Verburg said.

They used to do it to a live goose (eeeuuuw). Use a doll like they do in Ypres, Belgium with the cat, come up with something new, so many alternatives, think outside the box that is your head.


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