It all started with Marin’s call: ‘We got lucky – a cow died this morning. Set off!’
3.5-hour and 300-km later, it was time for one of my most emotional encounters with the vultures of the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. Until then I had either failed to spot them after waiting infinitely long hours, or our encounters had been far too short and involved only a few birds.
I arrived in Madzharovo at about 5 p.m. with plenty of time to take the lucky cow to the vulture feeding station and enjoy the beautiful colours of the sunset. Then Marin ditched me all alone in the hide in the middle of nowhere, and probably went out for a beer, while I stayed in the forest with only the cow and the hope that tomorrow will be an exciting day.
I complained that the cow might not be enough, but Marin dismissed my worries: ‘Are you out of your mind?! A 300kg cow?! You’ve got to be kidding me…’ So, I fell asleep thinking about cows and crazy.
I woke up before sunrise and it turned out that the golden eagles are early birds too.
They started swarming. One would think the bravest ones are always at the front, but that’s not quite the case with vultures. First come the hungriest.
Despite their terrifying looks, vultures are rather timid and shy. Their tactics involves flying in circles up in the sky scanning the area until they are sure everything is alright. Then a couple of ravenous birds venture to alight nearby and continue the reconnaissance.