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Yep. If any of these Birds of Prey came up behind you you'd never know until it was too late! I only heard the vulture once it was passing.

Then it's a good thing that it wasn't trying to hunt you! [emoji23][emoji23][emoji23][emoji23]
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Standing up here enjoying the sun and the views, something special happened.
 
At the far end of the road in this picture (too far away to see clearly I'm afraid) are a couple of small buildings on the left where the local Hunters meet. Hunting was on this weekend and by the time we climbed up here on Sunday afternoon the hunters had finished their hunting and were "back at base". Across the road from where they meet is a fenced off patch of ground where they throw away all the stuff they don't want. We didn't actually know any of this until we were standing admiring the views and  "Wendy" saw a vulture glide by overhead. We watched where it went and then worked out what was happening from that because I had remembered seeing the signposted buildings when I'd ridden past there previously.
 
Once we were aware of what was going on we kept a look out and very quickly spotted dozens of vultures gliding down from all directions towards where the carcasses were. In the end there must have been 40 of them. A couple of minutes after seeing our first vulture pass overhead I heard a noise like a plane passing by at high altitude. It was the noise of the wind passing through the feathers of a huge vulture as it glided overhead. I don't know if it's by smell, sight or just knowing where meat gets dumped on a Sunday during winter - but these guys came in from miles around. It took them five minutes to clean up the dump site and then they all flew off in different directions. Some came our way and settled in the sun on a ledge below us. 
 
 
I was just talking to someone last week about how, aside from the attraction of the MTB trails here, we also have the two attractions of amazing local Geology and Birds of Prey . . .  and then this happened. I'm glad out timing was right. 10 minutes later and we'd have missed it all! 

 

 

The Pyrenees is one of the European strongholds for the Bearded Vulture (MASSIVE bird), which we also get in the Drakensberg. But they're pretty rare so most likely a more common species if there were 40 of them. Were they mostly black? 

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The Pyrenees is one of the European strongholds for the Bearded Vulture (MASSIVE bird), which we also get in the Drakensberg. But they're pretty rare so most likely a more common species if there were 40 of them. Were they mostly black? 

Why did ANC government suddenly pop up in my mind ?

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The Pyrenees is one of the European strongholds for the Bearded Vulture (MASSIVE bird), which we also get in the Drakensberg. But they're pretty rare so most likely a more common species if there were 40 of them. Were they mostly black? 

 

The Vultures here are a protected species. You can't do them any harm without severe consequences. We have Bearded vultures (which are huge), Griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures, a variety of eagles - including the Golden Eagle.....

 

There's a spot on the first climb of Zona Zero Routes 4 and 5 - which start together in Ainsa behind the Hotel Meson -  called the Vultures dinning room. This is where the local butchers dump their waste for the birds of prey. We've seem groups of hundreds of vultures there at feeding time (which is usually on a Thursday around mid morning). It's stunning to see. There are hides inside the fenced off area but you really don't need to get that close. When they take off after eating you'd swear they were never going to get of the ground.

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The Pyrenees is one of the European strongholds for the Bearded Vulture (MASSIVE bird), which we also get in the Drakensberg. But they're pretty rare so most likely a more common species if there were 40 of them. Were they mostly black? 

Year before last we did an excursion in the Southern Drakensberg near Rhodes. On our first morning we saw vultures very high overhead. I could see there were 2 different species but couldn't ID them. Our guide immediately said that they were Cape  and Bearded vultures. I've seen Cape before but not Bearded, so I asked if it was likely we would get a closer look at them. He said to just wait for it to get a bit warmer and we'll call them in. I thought he was a bit strange in the head. So, late morning, we were climbing and I must admit that I suffered the most by far because my 2 sons are much fitter than me and the guide of course does it every day at that altitude. So, when we took a break for a snack and a drink, I suppose because he thought I looked like dying, he said to just lie still and flat in the long grass and out in the open. Not 10 minutes later one of the speckles started growing bigger and bigger and a massive Bearded came gliding down to within about 25 metres from us. They are BIG and impressive birds, and like Bonus said, silent until you hear that rustle when they move fast and are right on top of you. I was so excited but didn't care much for the feeling that a bird saw me as a possible lunch.

 

Edit: I didn't know you found them in Europe at all. 

Edited by DJR
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The Vultures here are a protected species. You can't do them any harm without severe consequences. We have Bearded vultures (which are huge), Griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures, a variety of eagles - including the Golden Eagle.....

 

There's a spot on the first climb of Zona Zero Routes 4 and 5 - which start together in Ainsa behind the Hotel Meson -  called the Vultures dinning room. This is where the local butchers dump their waste for the birds of prey. We've seem groups of hundreds of vultures there at feeding time (which is usually on a Thursday around mid morning). It's stunning to see. There are hides inside the fenced off area but you really don't need to get that close. When they take off after eating you'd swear they were never going to get of the ground.

 

Nice. Yeah I was asking if they were black because I think there's also the Cinereous vulture there which is much darker than the Griffon. But I think the griffon is most common so probably the best bet. Spain seem to be pretty good with their environmental protection, the spanish imperial eagle was brought back from almost certain extinction thanks to some great conservation efforts in spain. 

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Year before last we did an excursion in the Southern Drakensberg near Rhodes. On our first morning we saw vultures very high overhead. I could see there were 2 different species but couldn't ID them. Our guide immediately said that they were Cape  and Bearded vultures. I've seen Cape before but not Bearded, so I asked if it was likely we would get a closer look at them. He said to just wait for it to get a bit warmer and we'll call them in. I thought he was a bit strange in the head. So, late morning, we were climbing and I must admit that I suffered the most by far because my 2 sons are much fitter than me and the guide of course does it every day at that altitude. So, when we took a break for a snack and a drink, I suppose because he thought I looked like dying, he said to just lie still and flat in the long grass and out in the open. Not 10 minutes later one of the speckles started growing bigger and bigger and a massive Bearded came gliding down to within about 25 metres from us. They are BIG and impressive birds, and like Bonus said, silent until you hear that rustle when they move fast and are right on top of you. I was so excited but didn't care much for the feeling that a bird saw me as a possible lunch.

 

Edit: I didn't know you found them in Europe at all. 

That's awesome, I guess he was dropping in to see if you were really dead. A spotted eagle owl nearly took my dog once but that's not really the same. Yeah I always thought they were "African" Vultures too until a friend from Charmonix sent me a photo of one from his house. I believe there are stable populations in the Alps and Pyrenees. I think they can only really survive above 2500m so Drakensberg/Lesotho is the only place the works around here. Outside of captivity, I've only ever seen one miles above me when I went up Sani Pass. But I did see an Andean Condor pretty close up in this very random mountain town in Peru and it was crazy, honestly it looked like a small plane.  

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Nice. Yeah I was asking if they were black because I think there's also the Cinereous vulture there which is much darker than the Griffon. But I think the griffon is most common so probably the best bet. Spain seem to be pretty good with their environmental protection, the spanish imperial eagle was brought back from almost certain extinction thanks to some great conservation efforts in spain. 

 

Back in the summer we had a dead vulture in the veld just outside the fence of the campsite I was working at. It was laying below a pylon and had died when it shorted itself between the HV cable and the pole.

 

We weren't allowed to touch it, we had to call the office of the Forrestal and they sent someone out to examine it, photo where exactly it was and then take it away for analysis. I was told that it was an adult male - it was certainly pretty big.  

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We took a drive up to France yesterday on the road north out of Ainsa. The border is 45km away and it's an easy enough drive. We had snow/sleet/rain down here on Monday, but it only settled for a day before the sun melted it. Up in the mountains on the road to France the snow fell some while ago. It's deeper and it's here to stay. Every so often we go and have a look. 

 

Through the 3.5km long "Bielsa Tunnel" to the northern side on the Pyrenees and the snow is suddenly meters deep at the side of the road. Nice to look at and get out and stand in for 5 minutes, but I woudn't want to live like that! 

 

Down where we are we only see snow up on the peaks at the moment . . . . here the Pena Montenesa has snow down to about 1000m.

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Back in the Autumn I had the use of the company bakkie for a week while our car was in the garage for some repairs and I took the opportunity to hunt for stones/rocks suitable for wall building.

 

Almost everything built here - houses/barns/boundary walls are built from rocks just laying around in the veld.... you just have to make sure they have at least one good "face" on them. Thanks to the local geology, the way rocks are formed here makes that pretty easy.

 

Picking up rocks . . . . . it's not work - it's cross-training! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post-4874-0-85489100-1608367530_thumb.jpg

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