First nest of Griffon vultures in the Eastern Balkan Mountains [ 2012-05-18 ]
For a first time in the last decades a pair of Griffon Vultures has nested in the Balkan Mountains, thanks to the efforts of the experts and the Vultures Return in Bulgaria LIFE08 NAT/BG/278 Project.
On May 17th 2012 the field staff of the project has discovered the very first Griffon Vulture nest in the Eastern Balkan Mountains for the past fifty years.
The nest was revealed thanks to a prototype GPS/GPRS transmitter, fitted on one of the adults.
The parents are Griffon Vultures released within the species restoration programme currently taking place for the Balkan Mountains. These are among the very first birds releases back in 2009 from a special adaptation aviary, established by the experts of the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna in the Kotlanska Stara planina area.
The female was donated by the French Zoo de Doue, marked with a white wing-tag coded 7G. The male has lost his tags but is also among the birds released within the restoration project. Already in December 2011 the pair was observed collecting nesting material and since then the team has been hoping and trying to locate a nest, but in vain.
On May 7th 2012 in search of food, 7G entered the adaptation aviary above Kotel. Without hesitation, the project team urgently fitted a prototype GPS/GPRS transmitter onto the bird, hoping that the transmitter would lead us to the nest. To our excitement, at the very fitting of the transmitter we observed a very prominent brood patch – a section of bare skin on the stomach of the female, where during incubation the egg can touch the warm body of the bird. This was the first definite sign that we are dealing with a female, which is currently incubating!
Fortunately, the fitted transmitter worked and lead the team some 60 km to the East of the supplementary feeding site at Kotel, in the area of the Tsonevo Reservoir. There, the team clearly observed one of the adults sitting tight in a nest.
It is a little late for a chick, as vultures typically lay and hatch much earlier than the other birds, yet this is a young and inexperienced pair. Our team is therefore going to keep a close eye on the family of the first Griffon Vultures in the Balkan Mountains.
This nest achieves the very aim of the Vultures Return in Bulgaria LIFE08 NAT/BG/278 Project of a first breeding attempt of Griffon Vultures in the Balkan Mountains as soon as the third project year.
This nest is an enormous success for Bulgarian nature conservation and strengthens our hopes in the success of the restoration projects for species gone extinct.
We hope that these are the first, but not the last ones and we are looking forward to seeing what the other more than 60 vultures released from the adaptation aviaries in Vrachanski, Central Balkan, Sliven and Kotel would do.