In the early 1930s, a young English traveler named Patrick Leigh “Paddy” Fermor set out to walk from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul. The account of his journey became a classic of travel writing — including his descriptions of Golden Eagles in the Carpathian Mountains of Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately, in the cataclysm of the Second World War, much of the human world of Middle Europe that Fermor traversed was swept away. But today, in the Carpathian Mountains, the Golden Eagles remain.
Golden Eagles of the Carpathians
Written by Todd Peterson
This is BirdNote.
In the Carpathian Mountains of Czechoslovakia, in the early 1930s, a young Englishman peered over a precipice and encountered a Golden Eagle:
Careful not to move an eyelash, I watched, until at length on a sudden impulse, with a creak and shudder, he opened his wings to their full tremendous span…and…with a slow springing movement…he was in the air, all his flight feathers fanning out separately and lifting at the tips… as he allowed an invisible air-current to carry him out and down and away.
Patrick Leigh Fermor had set out to walk from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul. He was footloose and traveled light, but carried letters of introduction – as a certain class of traveling Englishman did in those days. The account of his journey became a classic of travel writing. Because Paddy, as he was known, would follow his interests anywhere, talk to anybody, and take in stride anything the world could throw at him. And because of moments like this:
A few moments later… a second great bird followed him almost without a sound. They swayed gently with a wide space of air between them like ships in a mild swell. (1)
In the cataclysm of the Second World War, much of the human world of Middle Europe Fermor traversed was swept away. But even today, in the Carpathian Mountains, the Golden Eagles remain.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Wind sound 'Nature Sound 000001 Wind-Soft' recorded by Gordon Hempton.
Incidental music "The Unanswered Question" by Charles Ives. Michael Tilson Thomas, Chicago Symphony
Orchestra and Adolph Herseth.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org March 2015/2019 Narrator: Michael Stein
(1) Between the Woods and the Water, Patrick Leigh Fermor. New York Review Books. 1986. Pages 206-207.