Around us are the rock dominated, rugged hills of North Harris. Below the crags, a small loch in the ice-scoured valley floor. Heather and dry grasses surround us and the monotonous cuckoo calls bounce around the silent hills. An occasional snipe chunter and the periodic bleating of sheep and lambs are all there is to break the silence. The wind blows gently and the sun warms the back.
Into this magnificent arena came the birds. The first, a dot high in the cloud-dappled blue Hebridean sky, swirled and circled in effortless ease. Broad wings, tips raised, fingers spread, floated the bird across the sky in spiralling circles. Then, the wings pulled in and the bird moved fast, straight and deliberate across the sky, disappearing behind the eastern ridge.
Almost immediately, a second bird. More exuberant this one as it danced in the sky, riding an invisible rollercoaster. Powered to the top of the curve, then, wings in tight into a peculiar profile, over the peak and a steep plunge, down, down, until the wings, eased out, stop the fall and the hill climb starts again. Up…over….down. Up…over…down. Time and time again. Occasional variations with a twist to the left or right at the apex, and once, a total loop-the-loop.
Thank goodness there are places where the Golden Eagle can thrive and perform this most spectacular of aerial displays.