Bearded Vulture in Britain and Belgium May 2016

Bearded Vultures near Sudbrook, Gwent, (© Dale Kedward)

On Thursday 12 May whilst walking with his son and dog along the shore of the Severn Estuary near Sudbrook in Gwent, Dale Kedward, noticed a particularly large bird perched on the rocks ahead of where he was walking.

Realising it was much larger than any birds he was used to seeing he started to record a video of the bird as he, his son and their dog approached it. After a few seconds of recording, the bird took flight and disappeared from view.

The following day and still not sure what species he had seen and recorded the got in touch with a birding friend in the village, Andrew Mason. After some technical difficulties getting the video downloaded Andrew along with the help of the country recorder identified the bird as a Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture): a potential first for Britain.

Examination of stills taken from the video suggest it to be the same individual that had previously been seen and photographed in Belgium in West Flanders on Monday 9th May.

Bearded Vulture, near IJzervallei - IJzerbroeken Oostvleteren (Pollinkhove). Belgium 9th May 2016 (© Gilbert Liefhooghe)

The Bearded Vulture seems to be a first-summer, and does not seem have any rings or bleached feathers, indicating it is a wild bird, most likely emanating from either the Pyrenees, or alternatively the Alps; where a reintroduction programmes has been undertaken since 1986, culminating in 2015 when 34 pairs fledged 20 young. All released birds (in the reintroduction projects managed by the VCF, and on-going until at least 2014) are ringed, and now also equipped with a tracking tag. Even if the tag fails, they all also have their flight-feathers bleached, which allows them to be identified when in flight, and these bleached feathers are retained in a first-summer bird.

Bearded vultures in the Alps 2015 (© Vulture Conservation Foundation)
This Bearded Vulture was the first wild nestling to be tagged in the French eastern pre-Pyrenees at the end of April 2016


17 May 2016








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