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Island hopping and heading east – the latest travels of Bulgaria’s cinereous vultures – updates

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Ostrava in the Kotel Mountains (C) Hristo Peshev/FWFF
Ostrava in the Kotel Mountains (C) Hristo Peshev/FWFF

Young cinereous vultures are known to be great wanderers as they explore their new homes after fledging from the nest and Riga, Boyan and Ostrava, the three birds reintroduced to Bulgaria are no exception. Since the end of September there have been lots of excitement as these young birds explore their new home and beyond.  

Riga- Island hopping around Greece

Riga's movements between the end of September and end of October
Riga’s movements between the end of September and end of October

When we last caught up with the three cinereous vultures it was Riga who was the most adventurous, traveling to south west Greece from the release site in Kotel Mountains in Bulgaria, whilst Ostrava and Boyan were not venturing far from the release site. 

Riga is still roaming the area, after their visit to south west Greece they headed back east Evia island, but returned west and made it to Greece’s Peloponese Peninusla. In their attempt to head further south Riga flew to the island of Ydra and after roosting there for the night headed further south west to the island to Kithira. It’s hoped that Riga might make the 270km journey to reach Crete through the small island of Anthkitira. 

Riga has traveled a great distance and thanks to the GPS tracking we are able to monitor their movements closely,  working with our Greek colleagues on the project we are ready to react should they stop moving as a result of exhaustion or not finding food.  

UPDATE 31/10/18 

From the GPS data the team at Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna were beginning to get worried about Riga, they hadn’t fed for nearly 20 days. So they made the call to Greek wildlife organisation TULIPA GULIMI in Neapoli Lakonia, Greece to help them. The team used the GPS coordinates to track Riga and volunteers headed to their location. Even though they had left, the team left food out in the hope that Riga would find it and refuel. Their efforts were rewarded with seeing Riga feed within a few hours of leaving the food and has since left the area continuing on their journey. A great international effort to ensure look after this important vulture, well done to everyone and thanks for your quick response. 

UPDATE 07/11/18 

After the high drama of Riga nearing exhaustion and the intervention of our Greek colleagues at TULIPA GULIMI it would appear Riga may have settled down at a location for the winter. After traveling around the Peloponnese peninsula Riga moved back to inland Greece and is currently around Messolonghi in western Greece.

Riga's movements as of 02/11/18
Riga’s movements as of 02/11/18

Boyan – Crossing the Bosporus 

Boyan's movements from end of September to end of October
Boyan’s movements from end of September to end of October

Making short expeditions from the release site Boyan finally left the area and traveling around 40km-60km a day. They headed east from the Kotel Mountains heading into south east Greece and have crossed the Bosporus and are now following the southern coastline of the Black Sea in Turkey. We really hope Boyan heads south from their current location as they will be close to the cinereous vulture colonies in Sakarya and Bolu.

Update 07/11/18

We last caught up with Boyan as he crossed the Bosphorous and was headed east in Turkey. Since the end of October they have carried on their eastward migration traveling east parallel to the Turkish Black Sea coast covering 490km in just a single day. Boyan is currently near Erzurum in Turkey and has been for several days. It’s hoped that just like Riga, their travels have come to an end and they will stay in one area now for the winter, concentrating on developing the skills they need to survive as they mature into adults such as finding food. 

Ostrava – Staying close to home

Ostrava at a feeding station (C) Hristo Peshev/FWFF
Ostrava at a feeding station (C) Hristo Peshev/FWFF

Ostrava, the youngest of the three birds is still in Kotel and seems to be in no rush to leave the area and moving short distances from suitable roosting sites to the feeding sites joining the group of about 40 local griffon vultures and back.

Our partners from the Vultures Back To LIFE, Green Balkans and Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna are vigilant and are following the movements of all three birds closely in this historic reintroduction programme. You can follow their movements by heading to our Monitoring page and checking out the live maps

Movements of Boyan, Ostrava and Riga 06/10/18 to 06/11/18
Movements of Boyan, Ostrava and Riga 06/10/18 to 06/11/18

Vultures Back to LIFE

Led by the wildlife conservation charity Green Balkans, with activities also implemented by the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, and bringing together partners from Bulgaria, Spain and Germany, Vultures Back to LIFE aims to reintroduce the cinereous or Eurasian black vulture to Bulgaria. The team will transfer and release around 60 birds, some from captive-breeding, but mostly coming from wildlife rehabilitation centers in Extremadura (Spain) into the wild in Bulgaria as well as creating supplementary feeding stations and improving populations of wild herbivores, improving the nesting conditions and creating artificial nest sites and tackling some of the major threats to vultures in the country such as insulating electricity pylons and illegal use of poison in the nature.

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