Thursday, 13 July 2017

Griffon Vultures - (Upclose & Very Personal)

As planned, a lot of time this trip was spent searching for Vultures, Griffons in particular, in the hope of "lucking in" to a Ruppell's. This consisted of visting a roosting site location, a secret valley, where one morning we felt we were "in" as there was large numbers of Griffon's flying in overhead, in squadron like formation, landing and perching up in a dead tree, even the local farmer stated he suspected there was a carcass nearby but we never found the carcass nor did the Vultures indicate that they had found it either. This show also included Booted and Short toed Eagles low overhead, Black Kites inqisitively lingering overhead of which I deleted the photos before protecting them, "what a melt"

However, one morning whilst having a local traditional breakfast, which consisted of fresh Orange Juice, Coffee, Tomatoe-Toast, and a very large Brandy, Simon received news of a carcass with Vultures appearing, luckily we were only walking distance away from the site so after necking Breakfast we headed off. Here are some images taken from this feeding frenzy, where power and ascertiveness seems to be the rule of tumb amongst the amassing Vultures.

Simon T, Niki W, Fran, Cath and myself all watched on with amazement the spectacle of Vultures piling in on top of each other with lumps of flesh being carried away, and an almost rugby scrum like feeding behaviour was witnessed by us all. 

I hope some of these photos and the small video footage provide yourselves an idea of what we witnessed and the carnage that takes place at such feeding forays.

Above shows a Griffon fleeing the scene with its cache, below shows a colour ringed Griffon, which was nice to see as this was my second colour ringed (A5U) Vulture,

Above image shows an incomming Griffon with landing gear down ready to join the feeding frenzy below. The two images below show Griffon's taken in flight at various locations during the previous days.

Video above shows an insight to the feeding frenzy and the video below shows an adult bird with a young bird at the nest site.

Whilst spending an evening at a roost site, watching and scanning the incoming Vultures an Egyptian Vulture appeared and Simon advised me that there had only been a single bird of late and he was disapointed that the "pair" were not as such any more but "fortune favours the brave" and we were rewarded staying on site at the roost until gone 22.30hrs with another 2 Egyptian Vultures bringing the tally to 3 birds, then we noticed that one individual was wearing a satelitte tracker, as per the image below. This was nice to see and we could clearly see that the bird was sporting a colour ring but unfortuantley it was just to far to be able to read the code at such distance.

I have seen many Vultures at many sites but nothing allowed such good views or photographic opportunities as this trip, Ok, so we got lucky with a fresh carcass but you make your own luck and we put in the time on this trip. 

If you do fancy some "up close & personal" time and or photographic opportunites with Vultures then I can't think of any other better choice than to join a day or 3 with the Inglorious Bustards team, higly recomended Simon, Niki & Russett at: