The Takkenkooi is the oldest duck decoy structure on Terschelling, constructed around 1667, probably one of the first in the Wadden area. The other duck-catching structures on the island date from the 19th century. The Takkenkooi is privately owned and still in use. Over the years the shares have splintered, so that the structure now has millions of owners, almost making it common property. A duck decoy is an experimental setup for watching, catching, eating, studying bids. Ducks usually feed on the tidal flats at high tide, looking for seaweed in shallow underwater pastures. The local daily migration is dictated by the tide. Near the decoy there is another landmark: de Wierschuur, a relic of the commercial exploitation of seaweed. In 2008 a group of experts made a failed attempt at getting bird catching recognized as UNESCO immaterial cultural heritage. The bid was bested in 2015 by the beloved national symbol of the windmill. The miller’s profession was recognized as cultural heritage (but by whom?).
Guide: Gerrit de Veer (~1570 – ~1598)
Gerrit de Veer was the writer of travelogs on board Willem Bartensz’ expeditions to the arctic, the first of which took place in 1594 and included Jan Huygen van Linschoten and Lucas Jansz. Waghenaer. De Veer also joined the second expedition in 1596 as a member of the crew, and helped build the expeditions shelter on the island of Nova Zembla. He gave a written day-to-day account of the winter spent on Nova Zembla, which would become legendary. With great precision he recorded all details that a studious explorer could imagine anyone would want to know. True story: de Veer found geese on Nova Zembla, sea-creatures he knew from the Wadden Sea. “Sea-creatures”, because of the persistent myth that geese were born from large seashells that grew on trees. De Veer did what he had to do and caught, deplumed and cooked a goose and its eggs. This took away his doubt – the taste reminded him of the Wadden Sea. The tree-born goose turned out to be an egg-laying bird. There are similarities between this story and other ones about migratory birds. All revolve around the question where those birds go when they are not ‘there’. Do they go underground, in holes and dens, or do they go into caves? Or do they temporarily turn into other animals. It is unfair to say thinkers of those times were obtuse. It is better to applaud them for their original hypotheses.