Georgos works these days as a guard for the wildlife and landscape of Northern Karpathos and Saria. Sometimes I help in this work and I also keep an eye on Bonnelli eagles for the Hellenic Ornithological Society. I am proud to bear the honorific title Keeper of Saria. There are 600 breeding pairs of Bonnelli in Europe and I estimate we have four on the island. I have been watching one pair for three years now. I recognise them, they recognise me. The male has several feathers missing from the trailing edge of one wing. They do not soar, but course their large territory in straight lines looking for rats and mice, snakes and small goats. Sometimes they ambush doves and gulls. They are wonderful birds.
Last autumn we were up on the plateau of Avlona. It had rained and we were looking for birds and picking snails from the dripping plants (snail pilaff is wonderful). The sky was clear but after ten or fifteen minutes looking up and around I noticed movement on the ground thirty metres away on a low hill. Four ravens were gathered round something large on the ground. I thought it a dead animal, but it was something alive, something red and brown, exactly the same colour as the damp earth. As I focused I saw it was a young Bonelli being teased by the ravens. They got too close and suddenly it reared up with open wings. Ravens are big birds with a wingspan over a metre, but Bonelli's are bigger. Even this young bird was half as big again as the ravens. They pulled back, hopped away and tried to look disinterested. The Bonelli hopped and bounced and took off to complete a circle of the hill before it settled again a little further away.
I have been back several times to the same place, but never seen this bird again. I suspect it moved away looking for a mate. The parents have moved nearer Vragounda where they are disputing territory with Long Legged buzzards Buteo Rufinus. I don't know why they moved. Perhaps it is not my business.