After an extraordinary 8 week tour that saw young bearded vulture Adonis fly into Slovakia, Poland, Belarus (the first confirmed sighting of this species in the country), Romania and Ukraine, Adonis is now seemingly flying back to the Alps using the same route through the Tatras mountains he used on his way out.
Adonis is a young male that was released in 2014 in the Massif Central-Grands Causses, as part of the reintroduction project there – now managed under the LIFE GYPCONNECT project. Last year Adonis had already wandered in Europe – in June 2015 he left the Causses and flew across France and Belgium to north Germany (as far north as Hamburg), but then returned south and arrived back to the Alps. Its GPS tag then stopped working for several weeks (probably because of a faulty charger), but he was observed once in Switzerland, identified through his markings. Finally, the tag restarted transmitting data in late September, and this showed that Adonis was back to the French Alps, after spending at least two months in the Swiss mountains.
Then, last June he decided to leave again – through the Austrian Alps towards Vienna, then to the Slovakian High Tatras mountains, and then onwards to Poland. Here he left the mountains and did a long tour of the Polish and Belarusian plains before returning south to the Carpathians in Ukraine, and then into Romania (National Park Muntii Maramuresului), where it was seen and photographed by Sebastian Bugariu and Cristi Domsa, near a dead dog carcass (see photos). The last observation of bearded vulture in Romania had happened more than 80 years ago!
Flying great distances and exploring new areas is normal for young bearded vultures. To fly all the way to the north is not that common, but it happens every now and then, usually in Spring. This summer bearded vultures have already been seen in Belgium, the UK, Denmark, and Germany.
The normal home of bearded vultures are the mountainous regions of Europe, Asia and Africa. There they find the perfect conditions for flying, steep walls for breeding & open landscape to search for bones to feed on.
The VCF would like to thank the dozens of people across eastern Europe who have gone out of their way to try to check for Adonis - a great example of selfless European cooperation!
Photos: Sebastian Bugariu