As yet another storm is about to dump very heavy snow in the Alps, bearded vultures there gallantly ignore the cold, the snow and the ice to go about their business – which at this time of the year means breeding!
Bearded vultures are one of the earliest breeders in Europe – their timing perfectly adapted to have chicks in early spring, when many of the mountain herbivores on which they feed (when they die) have their first births – and birth complications! This means they incubate in throughout the harsh winter months.
The images above captured by Denis Attinault a few weeks ago, at a well-known established pair in the Vanoise National Park (France) – bearded vultures busy maintaining their nest just before laying their first egg – and having skirmishes with some insistent yellow-billed choughs! They will be now incubating in the snow.
Bearded vultures continue to increase in the Alps, and confirm that the reintroduction project that started there 30 years ago is one of the greatest wildlife comeback stories of our times.
Last year there were 47 territories, 42 breeding pairs and 31 fledglings – a new record, and a sign that this population is now increasing exponentially!
The VCF coordinates the reintroduction project in the Alps, together with many partners in 4 countries. First releases started in 1986, the first breeding in the wild was in 1997 and now we are only releasing genetically rare individuals to strengthen the genetic diversity of the population. In the meantime, we are also working to minimize threats to the species. notably through the LIFE Project GYPHELP, with many actions precisely focussing in Vanoise National Park.