Vulture cliff

You know me, right?

If you have followed me on Medium for a while, you know about my love of vultures, griffon vultures in particular. So when I found out there was a place called la Falaise des Vautours (Vulture Cliff) in the lower Pyrenees, about two hours drive westwards from Gavarnie, we immediately included it on our mountain trip.

The splendid weather we had for our mountain hike didn’t last — in fact, the day of our magnificent encounter with the Cirque de Gavarnie turned out to be the only sunny day of the trip. By the time we reached the village of Aste-Béon and the vulture museum at the bottom of the cliffs, the slopes were only half visible because of the clouds. It made for some nice photographs with a Japanese atmosphere.

© KV

In this weather, I knew better than to get my hopes up, but then…

© KV

There they were.

© KV
© KV
© KV

We saw as many as fifteen or twenty of them circling overhead at one point, in their typical, slow thermal spiraling, huge wings (2.5 meters!) outstretched, regal and seemingly effortless.

When the local environmental protection programme took off in the seventies, the cliffs were home to fourteen remaining breeding pairs, their numbers dwindling fast. Today, the Falaise des Vautours is home to a hundred breeding couples of griffon vultures, and both Egyption vulture and the red bearded vulture are regular visitors there, too.

How many blessings can a person receive on one mountain trip, I wonder?

© KV