Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Golden fury

Golden Eagle (Martin Kelsey)
With driving power, using barely half a dozen deep thrusting wingbeats, its dark massive form hurtled around the stand of trees in furious pursuit. Just a minute earlier a peace had hung over the scene, rippled merely by the soft nasal calls of Thekla Larks. Then we had stood under an empty sky, until there appeared in a way that only eagles can master a lone juvenile Golden Eagle. Somehow this bird that had materialised before us was already halfway across the sky....how did we miss its approach? I rationalised about challenges of picking up distant objects against blue skies, its angle of approach reducing detectability even more, but yet again we are gifted by surprise, as conversely its prey would be cursed. That is how eagles have evolved. As it passed, it narrowed its wings, reducing elevation and increasing speed. Too low to follow, we could merely sense its onward direction towards the trees. Then the eruption blew.

Loud, urgent yelping cries caused us to spin on our heels and look towards the trees. The shapes of three Golden Eagles now occupied the stage. Bursting out of the trees were two dark adults...it was not an ambush, rather it seemed they too, like us, had been taken by surprise. They were on scramble. Normally a silent species, quite different from its highly vocal congener the Spanish Imperial Eagle with its loud barking call, the territorial pair were producing sounds which reminded me closely of the cries of African Fish Eagles, cutting through the landscape. I had never experienced this sense of urgency, almost desperation, by Golden Eagles. Almost blinded by determination, the adults beat a patrol on either side of the trees, oblivious of the getaway made by the upstart and intruder. Having searched in vain, the battle cries abated, the adults returned to perch, one making a token sky-dance, a proprietorial somersault before it landed, uttering quieter, more reassuring short piping notes. One could almost sense a relief at the return of calm.

Plains in mid-February 2015 (Martin Kelsey)
By nature's calendar in Extremadura, winter is now ending. House Martins are revisiting their nests in the villages, whilst Barn Swallows are hawking over the pastures. The long winter drought this year, coupled with daily frosts in recent weeks have left the plains in a sorry state. Pepe in our village aptly describes the landscape as asado ("roasted") and indeed the plants that had become lulled by the warm wet autumn, stand limp and yellowed. There is ample time for recovery and hope.


1 comment:

samuel langlois lopez said...

Gripping description as usual Martin. I'm right there with you watching it!!

¡Que llueva! ¡Que llueva ya!