This summer´s census of summering griffon vultures in the western Alps, which took place on 19th August, has counted almost 2500 griffon vultures – 2,459 to be more precise, a significant increase on previous years.
This count has been happening since 2010, covering mainly the western Alps (France and Italy), through cooperation with national and natural parks, ornithological associations and some other partners. The census takes part in the second half of August, when summering griffons are more stabilized – before one can still observe some erratic spring dispersion, while in September the griffons start going back to their perennial ranges. Last year the survey was cancelled due to very adverse weather conditions. In 2015 1732 griffons were counted while in 2014 there were 1682 griffon vultures were counted.
During this year´s count 10 black vultures, 14 bearded vultures and 6 Egyptian vultures were also counted.
Like in previous years, the area prospected covered the French Alps: from the Rhone in the west to the Italian border in the east and south to the Mediterranean, and to Lake Geneva in the north (see map). Within this vast space, counts were done at the end of day (17:00-20:00) in known roosting places, during the return of birds from their foraging trips.
This confirms that griffon vultures in western Europe have started to summer in big numbers in the western alps. Most are immature, non-breeding birds from the growing populations in Spain and France, that move northeast in early summer, and then depart again in September. In this movement, they often “carry” some black vultures or even the odd Ruppel’s vulture.
This year´s survey was very well coordinated by Envergures Alpines – well done to them and all the hundreds of volunteers who have carried out this count.
Photos: Envergures Alpines, Bruno Berthémy/VCF