Griffon Vultures - Vale Gieren

Griffon Vultures

Vale Gieren

Gyps fulvus

Pictures: Teus Luijendijk

Enjoying a late afternoon sun on a bright sunny summer's day, I found myself relaxing in front of my house in the center of Leiden. Then the phone rang and hell was about to break loose:
"Hello, this is Jan" (I was thinking Jan Who? - as there are many people I know with this name), "Jan van der Laan", he was reading my thoughts. "Ah!" I thought and was about to start off in a more or less usual birder's chitchat about the latest sightings, odd reports and perhaps some rarity-committee-gossip. These intentions, however, were quickly smothered by his words: "I just came along Voorhout by train and there were 9 Griffon Vultures out there, circling over a patch of forest!"
.... (at first, I didn't know what to say exactly) Then:"Are you sure sou are sober, Jan?" "Yeah, yeah, and the birds seem to stick around here for a while, it's a very special sight".
Of course, I took too much time asking him all kinds of useless information, as it was really just a matter of going there! When that moment finally came, I realised that I had two problems:

  • I did not have a car available
  • the battery of my cell phone had just died (of course!)
    When I finally came to the conclusion that I really should organise someone to drive me there, I had already taken a round on my bike, chaotically as my mind was, assuming that the birds would be already dispersed from the original site. My girlfriend fortunately was home, so off we rushed. In the mean time, my phone's battery had had some successful reanimation, so I could call one of the guys from the Katwijk bird club. He turned out to be in total panic, as he was watching the birds soaring overhead. From his waterfall of enthousiasm, however, I managed to get the instructions how to drive (it was Noordwijk this time, not Katwijk, where last year a Eurasian Black Vulture Aegypius monachus had flown past). Approaching the town, I was somewhat confused: There were supposed to be 9 huge birds flying out there and although we did about 110 km/h, I really saw 18 kitchen-door sized birds circling....
    Soon, I was right under them and just started filming, for these actually were 18 Griffon Vultures!

      Griffon Vultures  -  Vale Gieren  Gyps fulvus   videograbs (20x), contrast somewhat enhanced.
      Voorhout ZH, The Netherlands, 3 July 2001.


    Copyright ©Teus Luijendijk 2001