A couple of weeks ago, we succumbed to temptation in the local Jardinerie, and acquired a modestly-sized, but quite solid, olive tree. We got it, in the van, close to the back door, and had begun the process of lugging it, between us, into the orchard, where it was to rest until I had dug a hole for it, and the wind had calmed down so that it would be easier to plant (some hope!). Just as we started to shunt the load which was merely awkward rather than heavy, it happened......
For a would-be ornithologist, my eyes are in fact not as sharp as they might be. Add to that the fact that I have lived in several densely-wooded glens in my life (Vallespir being only the latest), and you will realise that much of my "bird-watching" is actually done with my ears, which are actually (still!), reasonably good. And what happened at that moment was that a bird called overhead, not once but twice.
Having heard the call, something out of my memory simply said : "eagle", and I did not wait to think how unlikely this might be; after all, we were in a small suburban garden in a lotissement in the quite well-populated Vallespir at the time. "Eagle?" I simply said to Martine, in a rush , "I am going to put this down", did so at once, and looked straight up - and there it was; no, there they were, directly above us, their pale undersides clear even in shadow. There were two short-toed eagles above us, gliding, but moving fast up the valley. There was obviously no time to rush to find binoculars, they would be out of sight within moments - and were.
There was no doubt what they were; they were big birds, significantly bigger than the buzzards which we do see cross the valley on occasion. Their underparts were noticeably pale, despite the speckling and banding, and there was that "eagle" call. I had seen them a few times before, but in rather wilder locations; I rather enjoyed adding short-toed eagle to my list of garden birds!