It’s all Big

Highway one runs south from Carmel along the west side of California. The road cuts through the impenetrable countryside of the Big Sur hugging the cliff-line as close as a groom holds his bride. Imagine an advert for a new sports car. This is where you would film it. Racing along open tarmac with a blue sky, blue sea and rough terrain; it is the ideal drive. It’s a big open place peppered with names like Jagged Point and Wildcat Creek and it’s an ideal place to find a bird so rare and low in numbers it almost became extinct.

We had searched the 50 mile stretch of road diligently all morning stopping wherever the ever present mist cleared a little to view the cliffs below and the mountains above. With only less that 200 Californian Condors left in the world they can be difficult to find. We searched the road again in the afternoon without any luck. It looked like the largest flying bird in the world was going to elude us.

We stopped at the last ‘pull-in’ for our final try. Despite low spirits we still managed a laugh as a Rufous Hummingbird perched briefly on Sharons bottom as she stooped to change her shoes. I took a long last look along the ridge above us as she climbed back into the car. A kettle of some 15 Turkey Vultures wheeled overhead in a tight column.

I think the words I used were something like “What the xxxx is this?” I’m not really sure why I asked the question as amid the vultures was another bird that could not be anything other than a Condor. Dwarfing its entourage it cut the air effortlessly as it came closer. Then another circled out from behind the mountain. I had waited a lifetime to see a Californian Condor and I was now watching two.

It’s difficult to express the feeling of finding something against all odds. I know others who have tried to see these birds and unfortunately failed. Raptors are never easy at the best of times but I’ll tell you what … it’s on my list!

The Big Sur !cid_C6838685-2182-4907-89AF-5201B38EF3A4

California Condor

California Condors


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March 2014
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