The rain didn’t stop a crowd of around 300-400 local residents join the LIFE GYPCONNECT team on Saturday 18 May to celebrate the presentation of the two young birds ahead of their release into the wild.
The two birds, both males, from the Richard Faust Specialised Breeding Centre in Austria and the Guadalentín Specialised Breeding Centre in Andalucia, Spain, were presented to the crowd in the town of Treschenu-Creyers in the Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors in the French pre-Alps. The ceremony, now a main fixture in the local calendar since the releases began in 2015, was presided over by Bruno Garde, a park warden.
The two young Bearded Vultures being transported to the hacking nest in the Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors (c) Pascal Conche
During the lively event the group of local young people whose families are livestock owners known as Graines d'Eleveurs organised with a group of local artists a sale of artwork. Inspired by their encounter with young birds during the 2016 release in the Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors, the group decided to use the release this year to raise funds for a release in the region in the next years. Their work is brilliant - these entrepreneurial young people are an excellent example of engagement with the project and the reintroduction of this species to the area.
An unplanned release
Each year when we plan the release of captive-bred Bearded Vultures we reserve some of the young birds for the captive breeding network of zoos, specialised breeding centres and private collection to ensure we get the optimal breeding results from the breeding pairs for the future. Over the last couple of years, there has been a bias towards females among the 175 birds we look after. It looked like with a record number of young birds surviving this year, 30 in total, that we would have the opportunity to keep any excess males within the network.
However, the sex determination results have revealed that four birds reserved for the breeding network are female, so we have decided to release them into the wild. Two of those birds will be released in an additional release as part of the LIFE GYPCONNECT project in France this weekend in the Parc Naturel Régional des Baronnies Provençales. One of the birds being released has come from the Green Balkans Wildlife Rehabilitation and Recovery Centre in Bulgaria.
Preparing the young captive-bred Bearded Vulture from Bulgaria for their transport to France
In total we will release 22 young birds into the wild this year, check out the 2019 Bearded Vulture Release Season blog for a full breakdown of all the releases planned this year.
Beginning in 2015 the LIFE GYPCONNECT project has been reintroducing Bearded Vultures to the French Massif Central mountain range and the westernmost pre-Alps with the aims of connecting the breeding populations in Pyrenees and in the Alps. Since 2010 18 birds have been released in the Massif Central.
As part of the LIFE GYPCONNECT project we have two more planned releases this year: a second release in Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses of two more birds on Monday 3 June. Finally two birds will be released in the Parc Naturel Régional des Baronnies Provençales on the 25th May.
Overall we will release a total of nine birds as part of the LIFE GYPCONNECT project this year, out of a total of 22 Bearded Vultures releases in Europe, the largest number of releases in a single year for the project so far.