Thursday, March 01, 2012
Oasis Park Fuerteventura - birds of prey and Botanic garden
The birds of prey are kept in a distinct bit of park , the botanic garden, which is separated by a row of eroded hills from the main territory. To get there you need to walk about 1.5 km (according to their pointers), or catch a "jungle bus" - converted van, with rows of wooden seats. It keep shuffling to and fro between the main bit and the botanical garden, turning up at both "terminals" every ten minutes or so, so there shouldn't be a problem. Definitely wasn't a problem for us - we rode three of us both ways in a vehicle meant for at least ten times as many people. The Botanic garden is on a steeper slope than the rest of the territory and mostly contains cacti and succulents (makes sense really). There is also a lake with crocodiles (search me) and the bit where they demonstrate the birds of prey, more or less on the top of the garden. When we get there, there were very few people still sitting around, and a member of staff standing in the middle, looking at the sky and holding up something raw-looking (a piece of chicken meat, as I saw later from the photos)
There was a bird of prey circling high up in the sky. Staff members took turns trying to attract its attention, shaking the meat and making noises. At first we thought the bird escaped, but one of guys explained that no, that was a normal routine - they let the birds into the sky and they always come back*. After a while, the bird finally choose to hear the calls and drooped from the sky, if not quite "like a stone", then pretty close to it. I didn't manage to capture the moment. Rest of the viewers got up and left; but we stayed on because the bird handlers were still looking at the sky, discussing something. We were told that there was one bird still flying - a golden eagle.
It turned up quite soon, but not alone. He was in company of a small local bird of prey, maybe a falcon (or maybe not, I am not big on birds). They circled together for a while, just hanging out together, enjoying themselves. The eagle ignored the calls and the food for quite a while, clearly happy where he was.
Eventually he decided to come down. They do come down pretty fast, and you don't really have time to see how exactly they look when they do. Photographs show that they might not look their majestic best, at least not from that angle, but they most definitely look scary.
"Terror born on the wings of the day". Or something to that effect.
And this is just one of the many scarily spined plants they have there, Apparently an alluaudia, native to Madagascar. Looks like a piece of modern art.
* which is not quite true according to a piece of local lore I heard. Apparently, a golden eagle, maybe the same as in the first pic, once didn't come back and took residence in the volcanoes close to Villaverde; it took them a while to re-capture him.
bird pics at shutterstock