Bernardus, a young female black vulture, was equipped with a GPS transmitter before being released in the Gorges du Verdon (France) last September, as part of the black vulture reintroduction project there (see pictures). Bernardus was born in captivity in Pairi Daiza Zoo in Belgium, within the European black vulture captive breeding program (EEP), which is managed by Planckendael Zoo (Belgium) in collaboration with the VCF.
Following its release Bernardus first started to explore the surroundings around the release site, and after 3 weeks she flew to Baronnies where another black vulture re-introduction project takes place. Her next stop was then the Massif Central, where she stayed until the beginning of November. She then flew onwards to the Spanish Pyrenees, and then along the Spanish Mediterranean coast to Doñana where she spent most of this winter. Following some wandering in Andalusia, she flew northwest into Portugal and was last registered north of Évora. You can follow her movements here>>
Bernardus has some decoloured feathers on the left wing and in the tail, so it is easy to identify.
The VCF has been involved with the reintroduction of black vultures in France, mostly by facilitating the transfer of birds from Spain (wild origin, but coming via rehabilitation centres after they are picked up injured or exhausted), in collaboration with regional administrations in Spain and the French NGOs associated with the reintroduction sites. There are now at least 35 pairs of black vultures breeding in France, in three different nuclei, and soon this reintroduction project will wrap up.