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Bearded vulture makes Xmas appearance in Madrid

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An immature bearded vulture has been seen on the 21st December near Pico del Nevero (see video), in Sierra de Guadarrama, the mountains that separate the provinces of Madrid and Segovia, above the valley of Lozoya, less than 100km north of the Spanish capital.

The bird seen is most probably Estela, a female released last year in Cazorla (southern Spain), part of the reintroduction Project ongoing there, coordinated by the Junta de Andalucia, with the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF). Last November Estela birds that have been 3 years, but then tend to return to the release site.

The observation of a bearded vulture in the Sierras de Madrid is not unexpected, but nevertheless quite

symbolic. Once common throughout Spain, it was driven to quasi-extinction through relentless persecution, only surviving in the Pyrenees. The last bearded vulture of Guadarrama was killed in September 1943 near La Torrecilla. Its return to the Sierra Madrileña is in a way a reflection to the extraordinary comeback this species is registering in Europe – the population in the Alps has been fully restored by a reintroduction project coordinated by the VCF – there are now 30 pairs there-, the species is slowly increasing in the Pyrenees – now

counting about 175 pairs, while this year a pair has been building a nest in Andalucía, only 8 years after the first releases started there. There is also a project to reintroduce it in Picos de Europa (northern Spain)

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