The last few days were a bit stressfull for all the staff at VCF and at the Parco Naturale di Alpi Marittime: Early morning on the 24 February, we received a "mortality signal" from Herculis, one of the two young bearded vultures that were released last summer in that part of the southern Alps (see here). For the last two weeks Herculis had been in the area known as Val Chisone, Parco Orsiera-Rocciavrè, in the Alpi Cozie Natural Park. If the transmitter (and hence the bird) does not move for 24 hours we receive a special signal. Further, the temperature of the transmitter showed below 0 degrees. This is never a good sign and we were afraid that something had happened to Herculis.
A team from the Alpi Cozie Natural Park went immediately out in the field and started searching for the bird and transmitter, while the volunteers in the Western Alps Network were informed and asked to look for Herculis. Some hours later the good news arrived - one observer could observe Herculis (flying together with an adult bearded vulture) and confirm that the bird is fine. Herculis can be easily identified in flight due to its decoloured feathers. The team kept on searching for the transmitter to gain valuable information about the reason why the transmitter was lost - and found it on a steep slope at around 2400m (see the red arrow in one of the photos!). The reason why it was lost is not yet known.
As for Roman, the second bird released last June, it is now in Vanoise National Park in the French Alps.
We are very happy that Herculis is alright, but it is a pity that the transmitter is already lost. A huge thank you goes out to Robi Janavel from the Western Alps Observation Network and Luca Maurino, Bruno Usseglio, Silvia Alberti, Giuseppe Roux Poignant, and Enrico Boetto from Alpi Cozie Natural Park!
Photos Robi Janavel, Federica Gaydou, PN Alpi Cozie