Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lammergeiers over Castelluzzo

I was up on the Castelluzzo crag yesterday enjoying the plane free skies along with another guy who had the same idea and we had the surprise of our lives, for 2 or 3 minutes there were 4 bearded vultures overhead. They just appeared and were so low it was like being right inside a swirling mass of bird. I mean we’re talking serious bird-life here with 7 foot wingspans and beady little eyes. It was just like they were buzzing us and though there were only four of them they were coming in from all angles gliding round us just above the treetops like in those classic westerns or Beau Geste or something. We had to compare notes to reach the number four, it seemed like there were so many more.
We were so caught up in the moment that the other guy didn’t manage to get a photo at all and I only managed the classic little black dots with wings on a background of blue. Apart from in one totally out of focus photo I totally forgot to use the zoom. But I don’t really care;  what will stay with me for ever will be the swirling, the sound of the air in their wings and the fact that they looked right at us, eyeball to eyeball. Amazing. What a privilege. They are so biiiiig that they don’t even fly fast, they just seem to hang there. They seemed to be studying us and were certainly curious but then as if on a command, satisfied, they were gone, flying off towards the flatlands.
We kept saying the same thing afterwards, nobody is ever going to believe us. Nobody. Mainly this is because  there are only a couple of sightings a year here - 4 sightings of single birds in the whole of 2006 and only two in 2008 and we get a lengthy sighting of four all together.
An hour later as I was preparing for the hike down I managed to see one of them again this time below me flying over RuĂ  which is really low so thus I have been lucky enough to have seen lammergeiers from below and from above and in the eye all on the same day.
I reported the sighting and nobody laughed!!

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