They look so evil

I’ve always been in awe of vultures. Ever since I was young and taken by my parents to see a film, ‘Where No Vultures Fly,’ about ivory poaching in Kenya – sadly still happening – I’ve found all bird predators impressive and noble-looking creatures, but to me the vulture ranks the most magnificent. And so when I read this clip, I wished for more.  

‘A wild, free-flying nine-foot-winged bird of the Alps and Pyrenees; a bone-eating, tortoise-dropping inhabitant of wolf-haunted montane crags; here over the Derbyshire moors, with their grouse and their sadly piping pipits – the very idea seems somehow momentous.

Even as we watched the creature – a second-year, probably female, bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) – sail along the wind-blasted gritstone edge at Shining Clough Moss, it was hard to credit something so expressive of European wilderness. Yet there it floated with barely a flap – massive, glamorous, completely calm – and wheeling away from aggressive buzzards that mithered after it. These lesser predators, which are themselves no mean aerial masters, looked by the side of the giant no bigger than jackdaws. Each one in its entirety was less than one wing’s length of the vulture.

Yet there have been precedents and predictions of just such a visitation to Derbyshire. On 4 June 1927, two griffon vultures were seen in the skies over Ashbourne. Sadly, the record has since been rejected, but there are some who still believe in those birds of nearly a century ago.’ More at The Guardian.

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