I’ve had a bit of a thing about vultures for a while now.

I was sitting and chatting with a friend as we waited for the school bus one day.  He conversationally pointed out the dead deer on the edge of the woods and told me he saw 15 vultures on it a couple of days ago.  (I love chatting with dads, their topics of conversation are so different!)  I was stunned, not by the number of vultures, but by the vultures themselves.  It never occurred to me that vultures would be native to New Jersey.

I furtively looked the deer over as I walked my girls home – it didn’t look healthy.  That evening I googled vultures in New Jersey, just to make sure he wasn’t teasing a poor ignorant English mum.  This has happened before, I’ve been totally taken in, and I now google if in doubt.  He wasn’t lying.  Vultures are common in New Jersey.  I checked my bird book and paid more attention to the huge birds wheeling overhead.  I had assumed they were all birds of prey.

About a week later, I was on my way to collect my younger daughter from pre-school when I spotted several vultures in a meadow by the road.  I was almost late and didn’t have a camera so I had to ignore them.  The next day I had my camera but the vultures didn’t come back.  For weeks I kept my camera close by me.  Of course any vultures I saw were by a main road, or I didn’t have time to stop.

Finally I spotted a vulture on a roadkill deer, on a road I could stop on AND after I had picked up my daughter.  My daughter was fully aware of my obsession and was very supportive.

“Sweetie, I just saw a vulture on some roadkill, do you mind if we go back and try and get a photo of it?”

“Okay Mummy, I know you want a photo of a vulture.”

So we did a quick U-turn and parked the car a short distance from the vulture and its lunch.  I quietly sneak out of the car to get a photo, but the damned bird flies off to a nearby house.  It parades up and down the apex of the roof, wings outstretched.  Just as I take my photo the vulture flies off to a nearby tree.  I just managed to get the tail feathers in my photo.  I quickly take a couple more photos, but it is so far off it looks like an oversized pigeon.

We hang around for a while, but my daughter is getting bored now.   “Mummy, can we go and look at the deer?”  I reluctantly agree, knowing the vulture will not return if we are too close.  The unfortunate deer has obviously had the attention of rather a few vultures – all around its nether regions.

“EWWWWW, Mummy that is so DISGUSTING – the vultures have eaten its bum” said my sweet daughter, “can I take a photo please?”

That’s my girl!!


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