It´s not every day that a vulture descends from the sky and alights at your place of work but that´s exactly what happened today. I thought people were kidding me when they asked if I wanted to go and take a look at the vulture but then I saw the crowd standing at a safe distance and, lo and behold, right in the middle stood a full grown griffon vulture.

From what I pieced together the bird descended on the playground when the primary kids were out and about and, naturally enough, they scarpered in every direction thinking that this enormous thing was about to eat them.

Thankfully nobody was devoured which is just as well because surely no parent wants to receive a formal letter from the school that reads like this:

Dear Mr and Mrs Johnson,

I regret to have to inform you that your son Robert has been devoured by a large bird of prey and that there are no physical remains of him except for his school tie which was regurgitated. This tragic event was unforeseeable and nothing could have been done to avoid it.

The bird descended causing the children to panic and sadly, and not for the first time, little Robert was a little slow off the mark. It may be some consolation that Robert´s untimely passing might at least provide our teaching staff with a real life example of natural selection in action to help teach this important concept.

Robert´s tie and school bag and other personal effects are available for you to collect at the school office at your convenience.

Yours sincerely, etc etc


So, if not to snack on one of the kids, why did the vulture land at the school? In all probability the bird was exhausted and perhaps undernourished. Spain is a stronghold for this species in Europe and though many birds are resident there are significant migrations to and from Africa with the most popular routes around the Straits of Gibraltar where the sea crossing is narrowest. They tend to move by hitching on thermals rather than flapping flight and it is probably not unusual for an exhausted bird to come down to land like this.

The director of our school is called Mr Griffin and he was one of the assembled crowd looking in on the grounded bird. When I pointed out the he more or less shared a name with the vulture he said that no such ugly bird could be associated with him.

There is a small chance that the director may be reading this post and so let me loudly proclaim that he is, as ever, absolutely right. No ugly creature should be connected with a charismatic individual such as he with such enviable good looks! (That should take care of next year´s pay rise)

Funnily enough, this is the second time in less than a year when I have come across a stranded griffon vulture. The last time, in October of last year, I had to call the bird rescue people who duly arrived to capture it. Today we called them again but the vulture took to the air of its own volition before they arrived and circled the school a couple of times before being lost from view.


Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 21.00.28

We tried not to get too close to the vulture in order not to stress it.



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