Marvelling at Rémuzat Griffon Vultures / November 2021

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2021

I meet Gillian, Nino and Luis in the middle of the morning at our splendid bed and breakfast to drop off our things. After getting to know each other over a little coffee offered by our very welcoming hosts, we set off towards the Rocher du Caire. It is cool and humid this morning, but that does not prevent some vultures from already flying in the Saint-May gorges, above the road. We quickly reach the parking lot and set off for a short walk towards the cliffs.

The sky is cloudy, the air has not yet warmed enough, and few vultures attempt to take off. I decide to guide the group a little further down, where I know we could have a view of the vultures perched on the cliffs. Quickly we spot a few individuals and start photographing them.

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But the weather changes quickly and a little before noon the clouds start to disperse to let in the rays of the sun. Very quickly, many Griffon Vultures take flight to invade the sky, offering us a formidable spectacle! The light and colors of autumn make the landscapes sumptuous. We take the opportunity to make different images by trying to compose with a colored background or foreground.

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rémuzat-griffon-vulture

Griffon Vultures stay in flight in front of us for a long time as thermals are weak. The lack of wind makes their ascent into the sky all the more complicated. Some of them fly just a few meters over our heads.

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Then comes the perfect time to take the picnic out of the bag! We have a great time before the show starts again. The cloudy afternoon promises us stronger thermals and even more activity!

Even before the end of the meal, vultures are back! And they are everywhere! Above us, at our height, below, and even behind! Everything is possible and we take the opportunity to disperse a bit and let everyone fully immerse themselves in this beautiful moment.

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After long minutes of wonder and hundreds of photos, I spot a posed Griffon Vulture that seems quite close to a few observers. I call everyone and we decide to put our things away and get closer. After ten good minutes of walking, we reach the place. The Griffon Vulture is here, only fifteen meters away! We do not believe our eyes and do not miss a beat of this fabulous meeting. A rare moment, we are very lucky to observe such a wild bird from so close, for so long, and without disturbing! The light is ideal, the sun slightly hidden by clouds, and the vegetation in the foreground allows us to make images of incredible softness…

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rémuzat-griffon-vulture

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After more than fifteen unforgettable minutes, it finally flies away and we slowly come to our senses. We enjoy another good hour with many vultures around us before the end of day. A memorable day!

drome

We return to the bed and breakfast for a short break and a little debrief of the photos of the day, before leaving for Villeperdrix for dinner in a typical restaurant offering only fresh and local products. Delicious!

After a calm and comfortable night, we get up early to enjoy the sunrise. We reach the Rocher du Caire and observe our first vultures in the distance. The wind is blowing a little more this morning but the sky is rather clear. A little bit of mist at the bottom of the valley cling to the trees, but the wind quickly blows it away. Light is splendid. Large Common Ravens play in the wind and croak while performing acrobatics!

Vulture activity does not start until very late. At least two hours after our arrival, the first individuals fly away. Today they are much faster than the day before, and do not hesitate to dive sometimes, taking advantage of the mistral which carries them without problem. Their passages over our heads are accompanied by the sound of the air in their feathers.

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Autumn is already well advanced and the parades are starting. Many couples form and we regularly see majestic tandem flights. Sometimes they fly only inches apart with a precision that defies the best airplane pilots.

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Suddenly, a fairly small and extremely fast bird dives from the sky towards the valley. A Peregrine Falcon! After his stealthy passage, he will come and rise in the air with the vultures in front of us, allowing us to photograph him.

The sun is now high in the sky. The bottom of the valley, still in the shade, is the perfect background for trying out chiaroscuro. We take advantage of very close passages to make some portraits of Griffon Vultures in flight and play with the light to capture the silhouette of their immense outstretched wings.

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After many pictures we decide to eat. In the middle of the meal, a glance at the sky reveals the silhouette of the Cinereous Vulture! Two individuals are flying side by side quite high in the sky. We will have the chance to see them fly by twice.

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A little later, it’s the Golden Eagle’s turn to make an appearance! High in the sky too, it will leave us little time to photograph its characteristic silhouette.

We will end the day in the middle of the afternoon, after having tried a few more artistic photos. Rémuzat is a perfect place to test new shooting techniques!

We return to the bnb to get our things and end this wildlife tour with a last little coffee. A fantastic tour, once again! We have new dates planned for this “Marvelling at Rémuzat Griffon Vultures” stay, don’t hesitate to join us!

Arnaud

Guide Salva Fauna


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