Spotted thick-knees, red-backed shrikes, wheatears, skylark and silver-spotted skippers, it is teeming with “flyers” on Park Vliegbasis Soesterberg. This remarkable species richness is the reason why the Utrecht Landscape chose this special place for the second edition of the Utrechtse Natuurdagen. To draw extra attention to the flying species in particular and to show why the park is so important as a “biodiversity hotspot” in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, we organized the symposium “Flyers at the Air Base” on Thursday, July 8, in cooperation with Utrechts Landschap which constituted the kick-off of the Utrecht Nature Days.
This symposium was organized in a hybrid environment, with participating speakers being assisted by specialized technology and on site direction, and visitors connecting from home. Bringing in professional technology enabled the use of extra features and helped creating an attractive and interactive event for the viewer. This allowed for the visitors to be taken on a guided tour through the park where park ranger Martijn Bergen (Utrecht Landschapes) provided information on Vliegbasis Soesterberg. By means of movie shorts, he illustrated how the location functions as a true nursery of the whole of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug and made tangible the indispensable value that the location has to the landscape: the area houses the highest biodiversity of the province of Utrecht. So, in engaging with specialized technology, we were able to record videos that really brought the area to life. Then, to top it all off, two experts from the Utrecht Landscapes shared some final insights about the area. Also, a touching poem was recited by Ingmar Heytze, the former Utrecht city poet.
Several experts attended the symposium. Kars Veling of the butterfly foundation (Vlinderstichting) spoke about the enormous variety of butterflies at the base. The site is teeming with species and new specimens still, are being discovered every year. Yet another specialist, field bird expert Ben Koks, discussed the reasons why the park provides a home to so many birds, including the rare spotted thick-knee. All in all, we look back on a successful event with inspiring speakers in a beautiful location.
Both seperate fragments of the symposium as well as the entire event are available online.