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A to Z Challenge: E is for Eagle Garden on Mt Mijas

By Monday, April 06, 2015 , ,

This post originally appeared as part of the A to Z Challenge, and was called 'E is for Eagle Garden on Mt Mijas'.

If you take the funicular that is a part of Tivoli World park near Benalmadena Station, Malaga, you will find yourself on top of Mt Mijas, with stunning views of the Costa De Sol. The trip up is quite expensive, but it includes a few exhibits and demonstration at the top. The first time we went up it was raining, but despite the shows being cancelled they kept selling the tickets which I find pretty lame.

But the second time, we had cloudless skies. I was going to write that it was beautiful weather, but the southern Spanish sun was scorching. We passed over what looked to by the abandoned theme park. Perhaps it was closed for repairs, because it was the middle of summer and it was completely empty.


At the top, we caught the very end of a trick riding show, but what we were really going for was the birds of prey demonstration. I'd gone as a small child when visiting my Grandparents, and was eager to see it again. The keeper spoke in both Spanish and English.

First they brought out three griffon vultures, who took to the air and quickly spiraled out of sight, never even needing to flap their wings, The keeper told us that if a bird landed in the crowd, we must get away from it immediately. At first I thought he was joking, but apparently the large birds can be quite dangerous if they feel surrounded.

They brought one more out, named Willy, to show while they glided in the air, on the ground they hobbled and bounced.
Willy the bouncing vulture.
Then they brought out a smaller vulture who leapt from arm to arm chasing treats.



But the most memorable was the enormous Golden Eagles. Large enough to be used to hunt wolves, golden eagles are revered around the world, they are the most common National Animal in the world, appearing on flags from Albania to Mexico, and on the battle standards of Ancient Rome.

Golden eagles live on the other side of the mountain,  the keeper told us it was amazing that even with cyclists biking up and down the mountain they lived there, although I can't imagine a golden eagle would be particularly bothered by cyclists.

The huge bird was set off into the sky, and the demonstration continue with a few smaller falcons who flew and dived after lures. 
  
The keeper kept mentioning something about waiting to see if the wind would turn...and finally,  it did.

He threw a fox pelt down on the ground, and out of nowhere, the golden eagle dove feet over the audience, wings folded like a typhoon fighter jet. I tried to get a photo, but they all ended up looking like empty vistas of blue, with a little blurred smudge in one corner.


The show wasn't very long, but on the top of the mountain, in July the sun was merciless.

At the end, they brought out this lovely dear, and had him perch on the wrists of some of the children.


Finally, they showed us how vulnerable and ridiculous the babies are.


The birds are a part of a educational and breeding program. The keeper mentioned that with the development of the area, fewer native birds are making their home on the mountains. A few other birds were tethered in the shade around the area.

Condor


I'd been before as a child, and I remember the show being longer then. They demonstrated how good the vulture's sense of smell was by hiding little pieces of meat under plant pots, and the vulture would lope over to the right one every time. There was more falconry, like a training exerciser where the falconer places a piece of meat in a pouch on a string, and whirls it around him like a bullroarer and the falcon can still pluck the meaty snack from the moving target. My mother even volunteered to put on the falconers glove and have one alight on her wrist. I was too small for that, I guess my arms weren't strong enough so they stuck it on my head.

I suspect that the show has to be tailored to the amount of sun the audience can withstand and the temperaments of the birds currently in the program.

On the way be down I got a photo of a strange little chapel halfway up the mountain. It's reachable on foot, but I would prefer not be caught on the side of a mountain in that heat! 


The way down held more amazing views, including the Buddhist Stupa near the Castillo de Colomares.



 
 


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5 comments

  1. I love that photo of the golden eagle and its handler set against the sky. With all the leather-work the eagle looks so medieval.

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  2. Wow, you got to hold the birds! I have to admit that vultures kinda scare me, though. Must be all those cartoons I saw as a kid.

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  3. I think vultures are scary looking and eagles have such cold eyes. I would love to see one diving like you did. We see bald eagles flying over our house sometimes in the summer and a large hawk lives near our house.

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  4. My family and I road tripped around Spain last summer--we didn't get to Malaga, but one of the towns we stopped in as a driving break had a bird demonstration too. Very cool indeed!

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  5. We drove straight through Malaga and stayed a few coastal towns to the west. That birds of prey show looks really cool. Great photos.

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