Results from early monitoring of Egyptian vultures in Bulgaria and Greece 2017

24.07.2017
Supplementary feeding of Egyptian vultures in Bulgaria, © Pavel Stepanek

In Bulgaria this year 58 different Egyptian vultures were recorded, from which 12 were floaters (based also on data received by FWFF, BPPS and Green Balkans). For the moment, 25 occupied territories were recorded (17 in Eastern Rhodopes and eight in northeastern Bulgaria). The number of breeding pairs was 24, seven of which located in north-eastern Bulgaria and 17 in Eastern Rhodopes. This means a total of four pairs less than in 2016. 23 (90%) of the pairs started incubation, but 19 (83%) successfully hatched chicks. The monitoring will continue in July when few unconfirmed territories (four territories in Eastern Rhodopes being occupied in 2016 but not yet confirmed this year) will be double checked and breeding success will be evaluated.

In Greece, this year 6 territories are occupied with five pairs and a single bird. There are four pairs in Thrace, and one pair and a single territorial individual in the rest of Greece. There is one territory less in comparison with 2016 (due to an unoccupied territory in Thrace). All five pairs laid eggs and chicks hatched in four of them.

As during the implementation of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron” (2012-2016), efforts to supplementary feed and guard the nests in Bulgaria and Greece continue in 2017 with the aim to decrease the risk of poisoning, disturbance and poaching. In northeastern Bulgaria, BSPB regularly provides with supplementary safe food six nests, and five more in Eastern Rhodopes. Five more pairs and five different immature individuals are supplementary fed on the vulture restaurants around Madzharovo and Studen Kladenets (currently maintained in the frame of the LIFE+ project ReVultures). Additionally, the vulture restaurants maintained by FWFF, Green Balkans and BPPS in the frame of the project Vultures Back to LIFE (LIFE14 NAT/BG/000649) are visited by two more pairs (Byala Reka and Eastern Stara Planina) and minimum 8 immature birds or adult floaters (Kotel – 6, Sliven – 3, Partizani – 1, Kresna – 1, Vratza – 2,). Some of the floaters (e.g. the tagged with satellite transmitter five years old vulture Iliaz) circulate between the supplementary feeding sites, including between Eastern Rhodopes and Eastern Stara Planina mountains. Overall, the supplementary fed Egyptian vulture pairs in the country are 17, plus 15 immature or adult floaters. The number of guarded nests will increase in early August during the first flight of the fledglings, when a volunteer nest-guarding programme will be implemented in Eastern Rhodopes by BSPB for fourth consecutive year.

The vulture restaurant in Meteora (Central Greece) is operated as in previous years, and is visited by the three remaining individuals in the area. In the area of Konitsa, Epirus, the two supplementary feeding sites created during the implementation of the LIFE project to support a pair of breeding Egyptian vultures in the neighbouring Albania are operated with the collaboration of local stakeholders.

In Thrace, specifically in Dadia National Park which is considered as the last stronghold of the species in the country, the feeding station is regularly visited by three pairs since their arrival this spring. The Dadia feeding station is maintained and operated by the Evros Prefecture in conjunction with the Management Body of the National Park. In addition, two nests where the birds succeeded to hatch chicks are being guarded during the critical fledgling period.

Monitoring of Egyptian vultures by BSPB in northeastern Bulgaria, 2017, © Maria Krumova
Monitoring of Egyptian vultures by BSPB in Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria, 2017, © Dimitar Nedelchev
Some of the nests are monitored by trap cameras, © Dimitar Nedelchev
Monitoring of Egyptian vultures by BSPB in Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria, 2017, © Dimitar Nedelchev
Individual supplementary feeding of Egyptian vulture pairs is conducted in proximity to the nest, with small pieces of meat, on sites inaccessible for terrestrial predators, and one to three times per week, © Dimitar Nedelchev
The supplementary feeding site (SFS) in Meteora, Greece, was reopened under The Return of the Neophroon LIFE+ project in 2013. Since then, it regularly operates benefitting the last Egyptian vultures in the area, © HOS
The first small SFS in Konitsa, Greece, was built following the French modle and under the The Return of the Neophroon LIFE+ project in 2015. Since then it operates with the support of local stakeholders and supports the last Egyptian vultures in Epirus but also benefits breeding pairs in neighboring Albania, © HOS
The SFS in Greece are monitored by use of trap cameras, © HOS
The second small SFS in Konitsa, Greece, was built under the Return of the Neophroon LIFE+ project in 2016, © HOS
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