Bread eating caves

Yesterday was my last day on the reserve and today, before I left Sicily, I had the opportunity to go on a bit of a road trip. With Bonelli experts – two Italian and two Belgians, Caroline and I visited two Bonelli nesting sites. One was right above the hustle and bustle of humans. Amazing. We saw a pair flying together. The female a full grown mature bird, her partner a young juvenile. A toy boy.. We visited another place where we hoped to discover a new pair/nest, but only found an old unused nest.

We visited le Grotte Mangiapane. Now that sounds like bread eating caves, but let me explain. It is a cave where a small community made their home for a few centuries. Cute little houses that lead into the cave. As soon as I arrived I recognised it. I’d been there before with Commissario Montalbano. Only there are no illegal immigrant African prostitutes living there, as the TV drama had me believe. It is a wonderful museum/heritage site. It was inhabited right up until the 1960s. Mangiapane was the name of the people. Perhaps because they ate so much bread. I did notice that the bread oven was much larger than their ‘everything else’ oven!

Eventually it was time to say goodbye to my Sicilian adventure and head to the airport. The airport is called Falcone and Borsellino. Nothing to do with raptors and handbags though. These are the surnames of two magistrates that were murdered by the Mafia back in the 90s, along with any staff and security that happened to be with them at the time. They were decent honest men. Men who refused to be corrupted, and were men enough to fight the Mafia.. They were exterminated. Did they die in vein, or did their deaths rattle enough people to make a difference?

Approaching Palermo we again noticed horrific amounts of garbage everywhere.. Piled high on pavements, in gardens, in green areas. We were taking photos of piles of garbage piled high on a street corner when we attracted a lot of attention. Sicilians stopped to watch us with very puzzled faces. How can they live amongst it? How can they be such a proud race with sparkling clean homes, but just outside their front doors is vermin heaven. I am disgusted.

Today’s bird list: Alpine swift Blackbird Bonelli’s eagle Buzzard Collared dove Great tit Jackdaw Kestrel Magpie Raven Rock dove Serin Spanish sparrow Spotless starling Yellow-legged gull Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange
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About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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