We have a trip out to Great Falls here in Virginia. It’s not a Humpty Dumpty theme park but a beautiful area of the Potomac River with dramatic waterfalls. As I pay $5 entrance fee I’m given a black leaflet. ‘Drowning is real’, it says. When I see the Falls, I understand why:
Looking down the River Potomac the Falls are just as magnificent:
Across the River it’s not Virginia, it’s Maryland and we can see a Bald Eagle nest with juvenile Eaglets. They are already the size of their parents. It’s a shame they are so far away:
Back to the entrance and someone’s starting a barbecue. That means that the Black Vultures, Coragyps atratus, are circling. They swoop down to the picnic area and strut about in their ridiculous lawyers’ wigs:
The Latin word vulturus means tearer. The Black Vulture’s species name, atratus, means clothed in black. It’s getting dark, so capturing their portraits is challenging as they bustle by us:
I wish we had the corpse of a deer nearby so I could see them feast on it like an Audubon etching:
I love Black Vultures: they peck the eyes and bite the tongue first; they vomit at you if you approach them too quickly, as a deterrent and also to lighten themselves for a quick exit; they also defecate over their own legs to help them cool down. They are the bird equivalent of a stag night in Tenby.
Finally one lands in a dead tree nearby.
Suddenly I feel I’m living in the Dumbo cartoon.