The VCF and the Regional Government of Extremadura (GOBEX) have been monitoring a unique population of wintering Egyptian vultures in Extremadura, and recently presented the results of their work with a poster at the European Ornithologists Union conference in Badajoz (http://www.eou2015badajoz.com).
The VCF and Gobex surveyed Egyptian vultures wintering in the NW of the Caceres province - Extremadura during 2014 and 2015. Little was know about this atypical wintering population – possibly the only one in continental Europe. It had been first described in 1990, with the first observation of 15 individuals, and during the period 2006-2014 from 7 to 48 individuals were observed wintering in that Spanish region. During the winter 2014-2015 we made an effort to locate all the roosting sites in the area and performed simultaneous census in the period from December to March.
Two Egyptian Vultures, an adult female and a second calendar year female, were cannon-netted and fitted with GPS/GSM/radio tags. We identified three different roosting sites in the area (on of them located thanks to the tagged juvenile bird) and estimate that the wintering population ranges from 90 to 100 individuals. The Egyptian Vulture breeding population in Extremadura is estimated at 170 breeding pairs.
The two tagged birds showed curious movements: The adult bird left the wintering areas in early spring and moved to its breeding territory (about 60km), while the juvenile bird stayed within the wintering area during most of the period.
Although this survey has provided important and interesting results, there are still questions unanswered. Was this population under estimated in the past or its increasing? Do the birds show fidelity to the wintering area? Are the wintering adults breeding in this area?
This survey will go on during the upcoming winter, and also we will try to capture and tag four more birds. You can download the poster below.