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…).

9 thoughts on “BIG

  1. Wow amazing I would love to have seen it John. I’ve had to make do with watching a brood of fledgling Stonechats and Pied Wagtails in my front garden. Kept me entertained for days. Not your normal garden birds but when you live close to the dunes it’s great to see unusual garden birds.
    Also had an Egret land in the back garden trying to steal some fish from the pond made a change from the herons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stonechat in your garden must be fantastic Pete, they seem to have had a good breeding season this year, with several youngsters around the office st Ainsdale.


  2. Ahem! Back in March 2006 I was sat on the verandah of the Everest View Hotel (which was closed because of political unrest), as you do, enjoying that very view, when two Lammergeiers cruised slowly overhead. This was a guided trekking trip rather than birding, so I could excuse the Sirdar who insisted they were eagles, but they were close enough to be unmistakable, and for me, one of the lasting memories of the trip. Your post brought the moment back John. Absolutely huge in every way.

    As a footnote, because of the political situation there were only 5 of us on the trip, one of whom was also a birder and agreed with the ID, whilst two others spent the whole trip planning their upcoming holiday in New York and barely glanced at either Everest or the monumental birds just above the heads. Nowt so queer etc etc…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good day then? The Tachina Grossa is interesting. If you could let me have an email address, I’d like to forward you my pic taken at Geltsdale this time last year. (It’s a good ‘un!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not quite up to that standard but a Common Snipe and a Sand Martin were strange bed-fellows at the Devil’s Hole, Ravenmeols, yesterday. Makes a change from hybrid willows and hoverflies!

    Liked by 1 person

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