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Griffon vultures

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Offline Dave

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« on: October 10, 2007, 17:13 PM »
Hi Everybody
Following on from the booted Eagle, we decided to take a trip to the Museo de Fauna Salvaje at Valdehuesa, prior to this we went up the length of Lake Porma, only to come across the largest group of Griffon vultures, I had ever seen in my life, upwards of 2 dozen individuals, riding the thermals on a warm autumn day, I am not sure if there is a feeding station near there, but certainly it was a large number, we were able to watch them for quite a long time, before they disappeared round the other side of the mountain. Later at the same point we observed 4 Great Crested Grebe on the lake as well as a couple of deer high on a mountain top, I am not sure what they were, but they were too large for Rebecco more likely something like red or fallow deer, but with an overall brown to fawn colouring, and fairly small horns with no obvious branching. below them were a group of goats, The deer were aware of our presence, but seem undisturbed.
Regards
Dave

Offline watermusic

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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2007, 16:21 PM »
Hi,
We are not far from Sagres and Cape St. Vincent in Portugal, and last week we saw 40 to 50 Griffon Vultures (gyps fulvus) probably juveniles, riding the thermal before setting off to North Africa to complete their migration. This is quite common to see them spiralling here in mid-October.
Imagine our surprise this morning when one glided in, mobbed by crows, and landed on our storeroom roof! Of course, no cameras were around - and the first ones we found were all in dire need of charging. The horses panicked and the dogs were all for the chase!
Things calmed down and the man of the family was summoned from work, as he has had experience in falconry, to help in the capture of 'Vic'. Vic is a juvenile and was extremely hungry. Unfortunately the fridge provided little in the way of vulture food. A piece of ham was offered and greedily consumed, whilst another family member dashed to the butchers. A horse-rug gently lowered over Vic soon had him secured and he was placed in a very large dog travel-box, where he filled his crop with chicken giblets and pieces.
Vic has now been transported to Lagos Zoo, where they have a large cage vacant, enabling him to fly short distances. He will be inspected by the Conservation authorities, and then, as he has probably now missed this migration, be kept and let back into next year's migration when they are sighted in the thermals. This is how the Zoo successfully dealt with another lost and hungry juvenile a couple of years ago.
Watermusic
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Offline tonyninfas

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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2007, 21:00 PM »
Hi Watermelon.  Fantastic work by you and your family.  Whilst I do not like to see birds of this type in cages, if the end result is for Vic to regain his strength and and be successfully released back into the wild next year, then so be it.
Tony

Offline lisa

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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2007, 22:19 PM »
Hi Watermusic, welcome to the forum! I wonder if Vic (Vicki?) will be tagged so we can all look out for him/her next year?
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2007, 23:10 PM »
Greetings Watermusic,
Welcome to  :sign: and thanx for that amazing account (how come these things don't happen here in Madrid?).

Regs.,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline watermusic

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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2007, 23:48 PM »
Thanks for the welcome, all.

I think most of the griffin vultures have gone through now, and there is a low pressure system moving through, so no thermals, which he/she would need to make the journey. Also the zoo have successfully returned such a juvenile the following year with success. It may depend on how fit he is, as he will be fully checked.
Incidently, our farm is called Vale Grifo and the Portuguese for the griffin vulture is....O Grifo!
Of course, we will be visiting Vic to see how he is doing... and we have known Paulo for over twenty years now, when he only had a small collection of pets!!, I'm sure we will be kept informed. Their site is www.zoolagos.com

At present, we have also have Eddi the Egret, whom we are keeping an eye on, as he recovers from a broken wing in our fields. He is just starting to fly again.

Watermusic (as in Handel)

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Offline nick

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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2007, 23:59 PM »
Most enjoyable first post Watermusic
Nick
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Offline tonyninfas

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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2007, 09:41 AM »
Hi Watermusic
Sorry, I have just seen that I called you Watermelon last night.  Too much of the vino tinto during the evening I suppose.
Tony

Offline Clive

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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2007, 11:21 AM »
Hi Watermelon ....watermusic, :)

A very interesting first post and well done you for helping to get vic his wings back again...

Do you or your friends at the zoo have any idea where these griffon's had come from? I am supposing that they were mixed juveniles and adults from the north west of Spain. "The numbers of griffon's here in Grazalema seem to remain stable all year).

Also where were they going? certainly crossing to Morocco, but then how far south were they going?

Who's got a good link to a site that show's migratory routes of Griffons?

Clive
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Offline Spanish Footsteps

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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2007, 20:57 PM »
Hi,

Not sure of a site to view the migration route, but if you find one i'd definitely be interested.  I live in Soira, in the north est corner of Castilla y Leon, which has a few sites, such as Canon Rio Lobos, that are refuges to Griffon Vultures.  There are still vutlures around at the moment, not sure if they are griffons though as too far away to tell.  But saw a group circuling on either monday or tuesday, looked like they were descending, probably to feed. 

In spring this year there were several reports in the local paper about griffons 'attacking' (not quite the right word) cows and calves during birth, distressing both and ulitmately leading to death and a plentiful meal for the griffons. 

Two weekends ago my husband and I were out walking in Cubo de la Solana when we disturbed a pair of griffons about 3-4 metres of the track in the remains of a wheat field.  Not sure what they where doing as they flew off very quickly, much quicker than the camera could be put into action.  At this close range they are ominous creatures.

Regards
Louise
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Offline watermusic

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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2007, 21:31 PM »
It says in Peterson, Mountfort and Hollom that they are only partial migrants. The distribution area on the map is the Pyrenees and all the other mountainous parts of Spain and Portugal. In Europe they are also found in Sardinia, Scicily, a very small area of the Italian Alps, the Adriatic Balkans coast and Greece.

I've always assumed that they come from areas such as the Sierra de Nevada, the Estra/Extremadura, and Sierra da Caldeirão travel West and use Cape St. Vincent as the landmark for leaving south to Morocco and Mauretania. They only come through this area in the middle of October. I have heard that the flocks consist almost entirely of Juveniles.

Watermusic

Vic - Vic and Man - Vic in dog crate
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2007, 21:34 PM »
Hi Louise, Welcome to the iberianatureforum!

the birds you have seen are certainly gyps fulvus (griffon vultures)

Interestingly I have just posted some more info on "press releases" at
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,434.0.html

I can confirm that at close range they are ominous creatures..... but incredibly beautiful as well...

Clive
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Offline watermusic

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« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2007, 21:51 PM »
I'll try again with the photos - think the total K was too big....(Grrr read the instructions!!)

Vic in the far field
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2007, 22:06 PM »
A very informative account of ruppell's vulture at http://www.dickforsman.com/cur/components/com_jd-wp/wp-content/uploads/2006/11/Ruppells_Vultures_BW18-435-438.pdf

It is relevant because griffon vulture numbers are stated and also migration....Also some stunning photography


Quote
The Cadiz province of southernmost Spain,
besides being a major bottleneck for raptor
migration, holds one of the largest populations
of Griffon Vultures in Spain (1,928 breeding
pairs; 8.2% of Spanish total, Gutiérrez 2003) and
the increasing number of Rüppell’s Vulture
sightings in Spain is surely related to the overall
recovery of Griffon Vultures in the country
(18,070 pairs in 1999, representing a 506%
increase between 1979 and 1999). Many of
these birds migrate to Africa for the winter and
there they overlap the breeding range of
Rüppell’s Vultures, a few of which then apparently
join the Griffons on their way back to Spain
(Gutiérrez 2003).


Clive
« Last Edit: October 26, 2007, 22:18 PM by Wildside »
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2007, 22:45 PM »
I think Vic's beautiful, but that's probably because he's young and still has a clean neck.
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Offline iñigo

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« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2007, 12:02 PM »
Hi watermusic,

I hope Vic will recover very soon. It is very common at this season that young birds fall emaciated after a hard migration specially after storms. We receive some of them every autum at Jerez Zoo where I work and they recover very fast. He won´t need a year but only a couple of months eating well and then he can be released. We tagg every vulture that we release with plastic bands and we have got some controls a long time after release and sometime in very distant places. 

All the young griffon vultures from the iberian Peninsula (and a few reintroduced in France) cross to Africa in their first autum, so about 5.000 birds cross the Gibraltar Strait from October to December. Maybe some of them could cross by other places inlcuding Cabo San Vicente but it is very strange because there are no thermals over the sea. Probably your birds were going South from their breeding sites in the North of Portugal or Extremadura and then they will follow the coast to reach the Strait.

I know some tagged birds have been recovered in South saharian countries near the atlantic coast like Senegal and Mali but there are no too much data.

By the way, give my regards to Nuno,


Iñigo




Offline watermusic

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« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2008, 13:14 PM »
Hi all,
This year's migration over Cape St. Vincent is now underway. Midday, October 24th 2008, we currently have three or four spirals of the griffon vultures in view, but they keep giving up and try find new thermals, so are constantly reforming into different groups and transfering from one spiral to another.
It is quite a sight.
Several White storks are investigating... or do the juvenile storks migrate as well? We have also seen two crows mobbing one of the vultures.
Watermusic.
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Offline Jonathan01

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« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2008, 19:39 PM »
Ah griffons are such a wonderful sight, I was luck to see 25 with some blacks the other day, Ever so low soring over a dead Donkey , and I mean low! such epic views. got some at dawn too lit up by the rising sun! beautiful.
As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill.