Bernardus – the young black vulture female which already flew over large parts of Europe, still has a GPS transmitter on her back and therefore continues to transmit data on her whereabouts – she is in Central Spain near Toledo. She was born in the Pairi Daiza Zoo/Animal park, Cambron, Belgium, within the European captive breeding program (EEP) for the Eurasian black vulture, which tries try to breed the species in captivity to provide the chicks for reintroduction projects in the wild. Bernardus was transferred to Verdon (France) in the summer of 2015 and released there.
In November 2015 she started an amazing journey, taking her all across the Iberian peninsula. You can follow the story here:
After spending the winter in southern Spain, Bernardus flew all the way around the Iberian peninsula and continued north to Frankfurt in Germany, and then back south to France.
During last year´s spring and summer she visited the Massif Central, but spent most of the time in the Alps. In mid-October she started to fly west and spent a day in the Massif Central, before she continued south. We assumed she will spend the winter in Andalusia, like she did the previous year. But she surprised us when she turned right and flew towards Toledo. Since mid-October she stayed in the area and was moving only little. With spring coming up soon, we are already curious which places she will visit next.
The VCF has been involved with the reintroduction of black vultures in France, mostly by facilitating the transfer of birds from Spain (wild origin, but coming via rehabilitation centres after they are picked up injured or exhausted), in collaboration with regional administrations in Spain and the French NGOs associated with the reintroduction sites. There are now at least 35 pairs of black vultures breeding in France, in three different nuclei, and soon this reintroduction project will wrap up.
Photo: Marc Pastouret