Two adult Egyptian vultures were tagged with satellite transmitters in Bulgaria

05.08.2015
Boris - an adult male Egyptian vulture from Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria, tagged with satellite transmitter.

Two more vultures were equipped with satellite transmitters in Bulgaria – this time these were adult birds.

Until 2015, in total 20 Egyptian vultures (18 juveniles: 8 in Bulgaria, 7 in Greece, 2 in FYR of Macedonia, and 1 in Albania; and 2 adults in Greece) were tagged with satellite transmitters in the frame of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron”. The number of marked juvenile birds was large enough to study their migration routes, wintering areas and the mortality causes in the first two years of their life (for more information see the paper of Oppel et al. 2015). Although the tagged adult bird Lazaros revealed shocking facts about the magnitude of the illegal use of poison baits in Greece, the number of marked adult birds wasn’t enough to make sound empirical conclusions about their habitat use, migration and mortality factors. At the same time, recently published population viability analysis for the Egyptian vultures in FYR of Macedonia evidenced that the survival of this age class is of key importance for the persistence of the population (Velevski et al. 2014). This is why this year the partner organizations implementing the project – Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS), WWF Greece and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), focused their efforts on trapping and tagging adult Egyptian vultures in the Balkans.

However, trapping and tagging adult Egyptian vultures is not at all a quick and easy task. The preparation started in the spring with the arrival of the vultures. This is how in April, in Western Greece, the first adult individual – Aoos, was trapped and tagged. The transmitter showed that the bird breeds in Albania but forages frequently in the neighbouring area of Konitsa in Greece.

In Bulgaria, this spring a trapping cage was installed in one of the vulture restaurants in Eastern Rhodopes. Unfortunately, the cage was destroyed by the bad weather conditions. Because time was running out, foreign experts - Dr. Mike McGrady (from International Avian Research), Jenny and Ewan Weston (from RSPB), with experience in trapping birds of prey were invited in July to transmit knowledge and help the BSPB staff.  Different methods were applied, but the most efficient for Bulgaria was the whoosh net. This method helped trapping of two adult birds in the second half of July – a male (Boris) and a female (Jenny). The tags of both birds successfully transmit signal confirming that these Egyptian vultures breed in Eastern Rhodopes, and continue to visit their nests and feed their fledglings. The information which will be gathered with the help of Boris and Jenny before their migration will help us understand more about the territory use and behavior of the Egyptian vultures in the Balkans, and thus help to select the most effective conservation actions in the breeding grounds.

In order to avoid disturbance of the breeding birds, the tracks of marked adult birds Aoos, Boris and Jenny will be shown at the project website once the birds start their autumn migration.

 

Aoos - an adult Egyptian vulture from Albania tagged in April 2015.
The HOS team who trapped and tagged the vulture Aoos in Western Greece.
The preparatory work for trapping and tagging of adult Egyptian vultures has started in early spring before their arrival from Africa.
Mike McGrady is helping the BSPB team with his expertise on trapping and tagging vultures in Eastern Rhodopes.
Jenny and Ewan Weston are helping the BSPB team with his expertise on trapping and tagging vultures in Eastern Rhodopes.
Dfter few months of preparation, the male Egyptian vulture Boris was trapped and tagged.
The team of BSPB and RSPB with the tagged vulture Boris.
Jenny - the second tagged adult Egyptian vulture from Bulgaria in 2015 - this time a female.
Jenny from RSPB is tagging Jenny from Eastern Rhodopes.
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