Last weekend Domingos Leitão, the director of the Portuguese Society for the Protection of Birds, the leader of the LIFE RUPIS project that aims to strengthen the Egyptian vulture populations in the Douro (one of its Iberian strongholds), was leading a group of birdwatchers in the impressive canyons, part of ObservaArribas, the great birdwatching festival organized there last weekend, also within the LIFE project, when they spotted a tagged Egyptian vulture (see photo).
They first thought it was one of the 4 Egyptian vultures already tagged in the LIFE RUPIS project, but a careful check of the tag in the photos revealed otherwise – the bird is no less than Tizón, an Egyptian vulture that had been tagged in 2014 in distant Extremadura by Junta de Extremadura (the regional government), AMUS (a local nature conservation NGO) and the VCF.
Tizón has been roaming far and wide in Iberia this spring and early summer (see map), and decided to check out the Douro – looks like all roads lead there in the end, at least if you are an Egyptian vulture!
Tizón was born in 2014 and was found disoriented and suffering malnutrition in Extremadura the same year. After a brief period of rehabilitation, it was released on the 24th September 2014 in the Sierra de Hornachos. After spending almost two years in Africa (in southern Mauritania-westernmost Mali), Tizón returned to Europe for the first-time last year, and went back to Africa to winter. Now on its 3rd Spring, Tizón is coming of age, and is certainly looking for a territory to breed – eventually next year? He has so far travelled to the four corners of the Iberian Peninsula, and crossed the Douro canyon above the heads of the happy group last Sunday, when they were watching vultures on the spectacular viewpoint of Las Barrancas/La Ermita, near Cozcurrita, on the Spanish side of the canyon.
Long live Tizón, and maybe see you next year in the Douro?
Photo: José Paulo Monteiro