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Bearded vulture, only bird that lives on marrow from dead animals, spotted in UK for first time

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Reports www.telegraph.co.uk

The bearded vulture, also known as a lammergeier, was filmed by the Second Severn Crossing near Bristol over the weekend.
It was reportedly seen again on Monday some 100 miles away at the Avon Dam network on Dartmoor, in Devon.


To read the full article click here.

Come on my intrepid UK based Safaritalkers, get out there and get twitching. Who'll be first to upload a photo?

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Friend showed me this on Monday when it was at the estuary, very cool.
Someone made me chuckle a lot with their comment 'Everyone in Wales put bones in your garden."

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Wow! Very interesting. I may be wrong, but I believe the nearest breeding population of Bearded Vultures is Spain?

I wonder what it's doing up in the UK? Maybe got blown off course by a very strong storm as with most other vagrants.

 

Also, for the sake of not vilifying vultures unnecessarily, let's stick to "Bearded Vulture" and forsake the name "Lammergeier". Lammergeier means "Lamb Vulture" in German, and was given that name under the false belief that they preyed on lambs/kids, creating an unprecedented negative attitude towards the birds (which we now know eat bone marrow).

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@@armchair bushman Bearded vulture certainly breed in the Pyrenees and I would guess that must include France as well as Spain, I have seen them there on the Spanish side while birding in Spain. They have also been successfully reintroduced into the Alps having died out there in the past due to persecution for the mistaken beliefs that you describe. Which of these populations is actually closest to the UK I’m not sure they may be about even, either way it’s pretty remarkable for one to show up here, I suppose on a positive note it perhaps indicates that they are doing quite well in Europe these days. Though I would have thought that finding sufficient food must be a challenge these days as European farmers certainly aren't allowed to leave dead stock lying around for the vultures anymore. Possibly in some areas conservationist may have permission to put food out I think that's the case in some locations where there are griffon vultures, since wolves have in recent times started to recover in the Alps and are spreading within Europe they may leave a few carcasses for the vultures and should certainly leave a few of the bones that bearded vultures are looking for.

 

I have also seen bearded vultures in Ethiopia and in the Himalayas so they’re pretty widespread.

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Great info, thanks @@inyathi

I believe there are indeed vulture restaurants in certain parts of Europe. Spain's bearded vulture population is doing well and there's ongoing research and active vulture conservation happening there.

Ethiopia has the healthiest bearded vulture population, and I think SA is the next best place in Africa to see them. A friend of mine who climbs Kilimanjaro regularly (he's a mountain guide) says he's sees them at the top there every time he goes up. He puts their presence there down to a constant stream of goat-eating porters and guides who leave lots of bones around at the top camp - an unintentional vulture restaurant.

 

Kenya's bearded vulture population has all but disappeared. They used to be somewhat common on our higher peaks and cliffs, but are now thought to be locally extinct. I know one area where there may be as many as 5 pairs left, but I have yet to visit and see for myself. I plan to later this year.

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Spain Beared Vulture population is indeed coming back , from around 50 breeding pairs in 1991 to 130 in 2014 .

 

The Spanish population is growing fast and many individuals are flying all over Spanish mountains far from the Pyrenees like Picos de Europa , Iberia System and even south in Andalusia mountains where there has been some introductions also ( they flew this mountains until 1996) , but they have not breed yet.

 

The biggest problem for this specie is the great difficulty to successfully colonize new territories , for example in Navarra mountains ( part of the Pyrenees ) they have been flying for 20 years or more and it was only 2 years ago that 2 pairs successfully breed.

 

It is true that in Europe bovine farmers are not allowed to put dead cows in vulture restaurants any more ( after mad cows outbreak ) but sheep and pigs farms are still able to throw dead animals in these restaurants .

 

This is crucial to maintain the Spanish vulture populations . We have 4 different vulture species breeding in Spain . Apart from Beared Vultures , we have Egyptian Vultures that are migrants and come to breed in Spain ( more than 1.000 breeding pairs , but with a high decline in the last few years ) , the Black Vulture with close to 2.000 breeding pairs in the last census ( more than 80 % of Europe population ) and finally Gryffon Vulture with 25.000 pairs in 2008 census.

 

it is believed that this figure has decreased considerably in recent years due to the problem of mad cow disease, poison and power lines accidents.

 

 

By the way , i think the Spanish name of the Beared Vulture is the best and is also a beautiful world ; the bird in Spanish is call " QUEBRANTAHUESOS " which means BONEBREAKER !!! You know how they feed ,do you ?

 

Paco

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Very interesting information, @@africawild thanks for that.

I'm very pleasantly surprised to hear there were still 25,000 breeding pairs of European Griffon Vultures as recently as 2008.

 

Sounds like many African countries could take a leaf out of Spain's book on vulture conservation and re-wilding. Very good stuff.

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Most bearded vultures which show up in northern Europe prove to be from reintroduction projects, it looks like this one isn't which makes it even rarer!

Last year one was found on a bicycle path in The Netherlands. It was young bird from a re-introduction project in Switzerland. It was exhausted and taken to a bird rehabilitation centre where it was rehabilitated. The paperwork to release him back in his original place proved to be a bit cumbersome, and the bird was actually confiscated at the Switzerland border because of a minor error in the CITES papers. However, they allowed the transporters to keep the bird (if the bird would have been confiscated he would probably have been taken to the same park and vet they were taking him anyway). The bird was checked by a vet from the reintroduction programme, then taken high up a mountain and released.

 

The story is in dutch, but there is a map of the route it flew as it was wearing a gps tracking device. LINK

 

Last week a group of 11 griffon vultures showed up in The Netherlands, and also several Aquila eagles (clanga and pomarina, and some undetermined ones which could have been the same species) showed up. And last month many alpine accentors and snow finches showed up in Germany, Poland and some alpine accentors in The Netherlands. First it was thought they came from the Alps, but one of the finches in Germany was banded in the Pyrenees. Birds sometimes show amazing movements! And certainly species which soar like vultures can cover incredible distances in short time spans.

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We've just got back from Spain, we saw Griffons in huge flocks both Southern(Andalusia) and Northern (Pyrenees) Spain. Our trip was focused in the National Parks, mountainous areas, not a day went by without seeing Vultures overhead. Also saw several Egyptian and Bearded in the North. I have no science background, just an observation, I was amazed and excited at the numbers of Vultures we saw this trip.

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Hi Elefromoz, i am glad you enjoyed your time in Spain and that you saw "quebrantahuesos"

 

I see you don´t mention Eurasian Black Vulture , didn't you see them in the south , they are not too difficult to spot !!

 

Paco

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@@africawild, no I didn't mention the Black Vulture, unfortunately we seemed to have missed it somehow. Maybe when I scrutinise my photos more closely I may see one in there somewhere. We had lunch one day beyond Escalona, huge numbers of Vultures overhead, it's not everyday you enjoy your Ensalada with the Bearded Vulture doing flybuys.

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