Misterious vulture from southern Spain is after all a Rueppell´s

 

Yesterday we had reported the observation of another African white-backed vulture in Cadiz, following hot on the wheels of the news of an African white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) in Portugal (see http://www.4vultures.org/2014/09/03/african-white-backed-vulture-seen-in-portugal/).

 

The bird in question was seen and photographed on the 30th July by Iñigo Fajardo (from the Junta de Andalucía, and also a board member of our own VCF) at El Picacho vulture feeding station (Cádiz), feeding on the carcasses of three horses, together with 800 griffons, two Egyptian vultures and one Eurasian black vulture. The vulture was reported as being “remarkably aggressive”, managing to keep one whole carcass for itself and just another Griffon, and sported a noticeable size difference with its European cousin (see photos).

 

This bird was first identified as an African white-backed mostly based on its very small size, but later one of our supporters and keen vulture watcher, Javi Elorriaga, has written to us with his opinion that the vagrant vulture was a rueppell´s vulture, based on the moulted coverts showing white fringes and the structure of the head. We have now checked with Africa´s top most vulture expert (Munir Virani), and can confirm this is indeed a Rueppell´s vulture - still an African species, but more common in Iberia than the other one. Apologies for the misidentification, but great to see that vultures also offer ID challenges, not only those little brown jobs people usually watch!

 

Thank you Javi!

 

 

 

 

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