The day before yesterday, this buzzard was found motionless on the ground by an Egyptian security guard of a small hotel 50 kilometres south of Suez. It was discovered at around 1 in the afternoon in full sun when the temperature was in the high 30 degrees centigrade. He said its breathing was fast and shallow and it seemed very close to death. It made no attempt to defend itself when he approached or when he picked it up by the tips of the wings to move it into the shade.
I called my superb Armenian vet in Cairo in the hopes of getting some advice but was told he was performing surgery and could not be distressed.
Falconry is one of the oldest sports in the Middle East and most Arab men adore raptors. This security guy was no exception and was determined to see if he could save it which seemed a hopeless mission as we had no idea what was wrong.
After an hour or so in the shade, it seemed a little stronger and drank some water. There was a slight breeze and Ahmed threw it in the air but after three or four wing beats it crash landed like a plane with undercarriage failure.
The feathers from the forehead to the nape appeared to have a coating of wax and it seemed comforted by being stoked gently and on the chin and throat although I was a little afraid of loosing a finger.
Will a long rest in between, the procedure of throwing it into the wind was repeated without success. I felt so frustrated not knowing what to do.
Then, as if by miracle, the wind coming off the sea increased to such a force that it blew my empty china coffee cup off the table. This time the bird was caught in a thermal and soared upwards. As first it hovered very low and unsteadily but then it seemed to gain strength and flew onto the roof. It paused there for a few seconds, took off and disappeared into the far horizon.
I was so overjoyed that I simple forgot to grab my camera just inches away from my hand.