The young bearded vulture that summered in the UK has been photographed flying over Beachy Head on the south coast, presumably heading back to France.
A number of photographers captured the vulture’s apparent departure yesterday, including this fantastic image from Peter Alan Coe:
The vulture, nicknamed Vigo, had been a cause of concern in the summer as it’d chosen to hang out in the Peak District in ‘one of the worst 10km squares for raptor persecution in the UK’ (see here). However, it was able to avoid being shot or poisoned on a Peak District grouse moor, probably due to all the extra attention on the area from visiting birdwatchers with high-powered optics.
In September Vigo left the Peak District and was seen in the fenlands of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. This change of location allowed fieldworkers to go in and collect moulted feathers from one of the favoured roost sites in the Peak District and these were sent off for genetic analysis. A few days ago the results were in and the Vulture Conservation Foundation confirmed that Vigo was a female and had hatched from a nest in the Alps in 2019 (see here).
The threat of illegal persecution doesn’t end just because she’s leaving the UK. Last weekend there was a report (here) that another young Bearded vulture, hatched this year at a zoo in Germany and released during the summer as part of the French reintroduction scheme, had been found shot in Cevennes National Park.