A very odd thing happened yesterday when I was fishing with Colin McLachlan. I was sneaking around the shore of a reservoir called Embalse de Gabriel y Galán in Extremadura when I came across a full grown griffon vulture on the slope leading to the shoreline. I had been so intent on looking for barbel in the shallows that I approached reasonably closely before I noticed. It is very unusual to see a vulture like this on the ground and there was no sign of a carcass that might have attracted it.

Initially I thought it would take off in pretty short order and so I fired off a few photos before it departed, but it soon became clear that it was going to stay put. I walked closer, and still it did not move off. In the meantime Colin came over the brow of a ridge and so I pointed out the bird to him.

Griffon vultures are huge things. They are not Spain´s largest vulture but they are still pretty impressive and the wing span of this bird would have been pushing on for nine feet. When I got close enough the vulture took to the air and flew in Colin´s direction. That made him stand up and pay attention! After only a few wing strokes it landed again and it became clear that the bird was in some kind of difficulty. There were no obvious signs of injury but it might have lost condition for some reason, or maybe it had ingested poison or something.

When we got back to base we got on to the authorities and, after a few phone calls, I found myself speaking with the bird rescue people. There was a nice lady on the phone and I gave details of the location of the bird and said that somebody needed to get out to it.

“Did you try picking up the vulture Sir?” she asked me.

My arse I did!

Colin and I had to make tracks and it was on the journey back to Trujillo that I got a call from a man who had arrived at the scene and was looking for details of where the bird was located. I have to take my hat off to these people they had arrived within a couple of hours of our coming across the bird and this, I hope, should give it the best possible chance of recovery.

The vulture was quite stunning and I´m glad it is now in the care of experts. Hopefully they can get it up and running again and it will soon be back where it belongs, soaring high above the vast expanses of Extremadura.



It was extraordinary to be able to get close to the bird.


Did you pick it up Sir? Yeah right!


What a beautiful bird


The vulture flew close to Colin and landed a short distance away.


There was no sign of injury but a healthy bird would have been long gone!