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For the first time a tagged Griffon Vulture, which has flown all the way from Spain has been confirmed in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the bird was found dead near Ugarchin.

For the first time a tagged Griffon Vulture, which has flown all the way from Spain has been confirmed in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the bird was found dead near Ugarchin.

03.01.2018
For the first time a tagged Griffon Vulture, which has flown all the way from Spain has been confirmed in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the bird was found dead near Ugarchin.

On December 18th 2017 the local hinting group brought to the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters – Pleven the carcass of a Griffon Vulture found dead near the town of Ugarchin. The bird had a plastic yellow ring inscribed 8A6. The yellow colour of rings and wing-tags with three-alpha-numeric codes were exclusively saved for vultures of Spanish origin until very recently. This is why all Griffons released within the vulture restoration programme in the Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria also carry yellow wing tags and rings. They however all carry codes, starting with the letter “K” and here we were, with a bird tagged with an 8!

The colour and the number of the plastic and the metal ring confirmed this was indeed a Spanish bird, hatched in 2017, caught with malnutrition after leaving its nest. Following a successful rehabilitation in a specialized centre, it was released on 18 December 2007 in Villanueva de Argaño (Burgos province), Spain.

In October 2017 the same bird was observed at the supplementary feeding site of Kresna by our colleagues from the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna. The ring was not read well then and the vulture was not identified. The release site is located over 2300 km away from the site of recovery. This is practically the first confirmed case of a bird tagged in Spain reaching Bulgaria on its own and one of the examples for the amazing roamings of these birds often seen on the other continents. As an example, some of the birds tagged and released in Bulgaria have been observed in Hungary, Poland and even France and Jordan, while the supplementary feeding sites maintained within the Vultures Back to LIFE14 NAT/BG/649 Project are regularly visited by birds caught and tagged in Croatia, Serbia, Greece and even Israel.

Despite the fact that we have been releasing birds imported from Spain within our vulture restoration programme for years, this is the very first confirmed case of a Spanish-originating bird coming all the way from Spain, unfortunately to find its death.

The necropsy, carried out at the Wildlife Rescue Centre of Green Balkans could not clarify the cause of death. We suggest that the bird has suffocated due to lung failure. No traces of pellets, fractures, electrocution or poison were found in the carcass.

The team of the Vultures Back to LIFE project would like to cordially thank the hunting society of Ugarchin, engineer Diana Katarska, ecologist at the Municipality of Ugarchin and senior expert Gabriela Georgieva from RIEW Pleven for their rapid response and kind cooperation and also thank our colleague Alvaro Camina who managed to identify the mysterious 8A6.