Have you ever seen a pig flying? Or a griffon with a bell?

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Well, well, Clive Muir, a long-time Spanish resident and the mentor of a blog on Iberian wilidlife (www.iberianatureforum.com) has done so, and shared these images with us.

He took these pictures of a griffon vulture with a bell in the Sierra de Grazalema, Andalucia, in 2007, and saw this bird several times at last until 2009.

Clive and others in Andalucia told us that in the past locals would sometimes try to catch griffon vultures when they were too full to fly after feasting on a carcass, and put things on them as a joke. This practice is of course illegal,  and it is hopefully dying down – griffons can die horrible deaths if the bells, or other artefacts put on them, get caught on vegetation, or among themselves while interacting over some animal remains.  

Fortunately these days vultures are generally very much appreciated for the ecosystem services they provide (cleaning the countryside of carcasses that otherwise would need to be removed), or by attracting thousands of tourists and birdwatchers to remote villages, often providing a lifeline to the local economies.

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