BIG

It was about 4.45pm as I swept the grouse-gardened landscape and vast skies with my Leicas for the umpteenth time yesterday when the Lammergeier suddenly filled my bins.
The beast was distant but huge.
I swear the sky above Howden Reservoir in the Peak District darkened as it circled out over the moorland.
This blog post is a bit late of course, but it has taken my peanut brain more than a day to compute the scale of the bird it was so mahoosive.
The last time I clapped eyes on one was back in 2003 in the massive Pyrennean landscapes above Gabardito and Candanchu, and I’d forgotten how impressive they are.
Origins and tickability have been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere, so I just enjoyed the bird as it showed three times over the moorland ridges after our long stand on the tor.
I was too busy trying to describe the size of the thing and its position in the sky via the liberal and loud use of expletives (sorry about that archbishop) to take pictures, so luckily Neill Hunt, who was perched up on Back Tor with me and about 40 other blushing birders, obliged with these images – thanks Neill.

Just for scale – that’s a Red Kite mobbing the bird yesterday, and in the picture below that Neill took on Friday, the speck behind the Lammergeier is a Buzzard!

Setting off at a civilised hour, we’d enjoyed a pleasant 50 minute Sunday stroll up onto the moors above Strines Bridge, passing a flock of 20 odd Crossbills, but not much else apart from Meadow Pipits, Kestrel, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells, before arriving at the Back Tor rocks for 12.30.
Back Tor was an obvious viewpoint, while the vulture’s roost cliff was another mile or two over the heather and bogs, and visible in the distance, but the bird had got up long before and lurked for hours in the deep valleys before we were treated to distant, but exciting views.

It wasn’t a bad spot to wait for Big Bird – Golden Plovers called nearly constantly, Ravens played overhead and the gargantuan (but not Lammergeier gargantuan) bee impersonator Tachina grossa buzzed around the vegetation (another Neill special pic below…).