Vultures are extraordinary birds. They are big, they are useful, and… they can fly long distances – as the story below, written by Fulvio Genero, member of the VCF advisory board, shows:
In the griffon vulture project in the Italian eastern Alps (Riserva Naturale Regionale del Lago di Cornino), a pair of griffons held in captivity (originated from Parco Natura Viva – Verona) has produced 5 young in the last six years. These were all released in the wild – and while the first 3 birds remained in the area and are regularly observed at the feeding point in NE Italy, the birds released in the last 2 years undertook large movements.
The griffon vulture released on 5th September 2014 (named Acale, ring F64) quickly disappeared from the area. After 12 days it was seen near Genova (NW Italy) but then came back to the release area (where it was seen on 6-7 July 2015). It then disappeared again, but on 17th October it was observed in a feeding point in the Spanish Pyrenees (Aragon)!
As for Kronos – a young bird released on 1st September 2015 (ring F65), it moved to the west following the Pre-Alps soon after release – it was observed perched on buildings near Cremona, and in the mountains around Bergamo on 10-12 September. Then, it moved to Corsica, where the species does not breed and is a relatively rare visitor – some hunters saw Kronos in the north west of the island on the 3rd October. Two days later a livestock farmer saw the griffon feeding on a dead sheep in Belgodère, and apparently in difficulties to fly. A local expert (Gilles Faggio) then captured it and released it on 9th October at Col de Bigornu (Lentu). Kronos was again observed and photographed by another hunter in Valle de Rustino (in the same region) only a few days ago (7th November).
Two interesting stories that testify to the large movements that griffons do, often to unfamiliar territories, and, as Kronos did, crossing large tracts of sea (at least 100 km). Equally interesting is the interest of large numbers of birdwatchers, hunters, farmers and photographers, in Italy and Corsica, that have seen and then reported these birds (they are colour-ringed), thus enabling us to recreate their movements
Information from Italy:
Enrico Bassi, Bassano Riboni, CRAS Oasi WWF di Valpredina, Polizia Provinciale di Bergamo (Maurizio Farina, Giorgio Testolino), Provincia di Lecco (Roberto Facoetti), Parco Natura Viva – Verona
Information from Corsica:
Jean-François Seguin (Parc Naturel Régional de Corse), Gilles Faggio, Sébastien Cart et Ludovic Lepori (Conservatoire d'Espaces Naturels de Corse), Cécile Jolin, René Roger, Tony Rossi, Tamara Langoux, Lionel Mortini (livestock farmer and Mayor of Belgodère), François Angeli (hunter) et Pierre-François Pietri (mayor of Valle di Rustino).
Information from Spain: Pablo Lado, Antonio Gutierrez.
Photo: François Angeli