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Tuesday May 1, 2012

Where eagles dare

Eagle attack

As foreign destinations go, Majorca is rarely feared for its predators although one of my unfortunate hens, Lucky Clucky- perhaps more fittingly, Not-So-Lucky-Clucky- has just been killed by a wily genet. Much as these masked raiders with their long bushy, banded tails and spotted coats look rather appealing, they are complete rotters, often killing purely for sport.

The little devils are extremely agile and can climb a chicken coop with amazing ease and speed. Although they tend to visit under the cloak of darkness, this bold intruder arrived before dusk and had dispatched with poor NSLC before we’d arrived on the scene to tuck up the hens for the night.

On the subject of predators, an English woman walking her two Jack Russells in the rural part of Benalmádena in Malaga, Southern Spain, was recently attacked by an eagle. It swooped down and stole off with one of her dogs while she clung on to the lead. On reaching a quarry, the woman valiantly tried to shake off the bird and was pecked badly in the attack. All the same she did manage to save her pet although the angry eagle harassed her as she fled towards home, attacking her no less than twenty times.

Here in Majorca we have the rather majestic Booted, and Bonelli’s eagle, neither of which seem to take much notice of the scores of twitchers who travel from all over the world to study them in their natural environment. To the best of my knowledge no dog or human has ever been targeted by an eagle on the island but I suppose there’s a first time for everything.

If one is to believe Pliny the Elder, the Roman historian, poor old Aeschylus, the ancient Greek tragedian, met his demise at the claws of an eagle. Pliny apparently maintained that an eagle high in the sky mistook the playwright’s bald head for a rock and dropped a tortoise on it in order to break the shell. Aeschylus is supposed to have keeled over, never to pen another tragedy again but what a fitting ending for someone of his craft. Perhaps a case of life imitating art.

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