Bearded vulture Adonis – a young male released in 2014 in the Massif Central-Grands Causses, as part of the reintroduction project there – now managed under the LIFE GYPCONNECT project, and last recorded in the western Carpathian mountains in Romania in September, is now back in the French Alps (Vercors).
Indeed, on the 18th December, Julien Traversier from Vautours en Baronnies, one of the LIFE GYPCONNECT project partners, saw a bird with the same markings of Adonis while trekking in the Hauts-Plateaux du Vercors. A careful comparison of photos suggested it was indeed Adonis (see photo composition prepared by the VCF – see photo), but all doubts were removed this weekend when the bird was photographed in a supplementary feeding point in the Baronnies (see photos).
Last year Adonis had already wandered in Europe – in June 2015 he left the Causses and flew across France and Belgium to north Germany (as far north as Hamburg), but then returned south and arrived back to the Alps. Its GPS tag thenstopped working for several weeks (probably because of a faulty charger), but he was observed once in Switzerland, identified through his markings. Finally, the tag restarted transmitting data in late September 2015, and this showed that Adonis was back to the French Alps, after spending the summer in the Swiss mountains (see map), before embarking this year in another great tour of Eastern Europe.
Flying great distances and exploring new areas is normal for young bearded vultures. To fly all the way to the north is not that common, but it happens every now and then, usually in Spring. This summer bearded vultures have already been seen in Belgium, the UK, Denmark, and Germany.
The normal home of bearded vultures are the mountainous regions of Europe, Asia and Africa. There they find the perfect conditions for flying, steep walls for breeding & open landscape to search for bones to feed on.
The VCF would like to thank the dozens of people across eastern Europe who have gone out of their way to try to check for Adonis – he is safe and sound!
Photos: Vautours en Baronnies, VCF
This article was first published by the Vulture Conservation Foundation 27 December 2016