Glocknerlady (named after the highest mountain in Austria, the Großglockner, which is close to the release place in Heiligenblut) was successfully released last weekend in the heart of the Austrian Alps, as part of the project to reintroduce bearded vultures back into the mountains.
The species went extinct in the Alpine chain in the beggining of the 20th century. Towards the end of the same century, it was deemed that the threats that had driven it to extinction (direct persecution, poison and lack of food) had been minimized, so an ambitious reintroduction project started in 1986. Since then, the Vulture Conservation Foundation and all its partners in 3 countries (Austrian, Switzerland and France) have released more than 185 birds across the Alps – and as a consequence, there are now more than 20 breeding pairs, and 30 territories, dispersed across the chain.
Glocknerlady was born in March 2012 in the Guadalentin captive breeding centre – in Andalucía, Spain – a parallel reintroduction project is happening in southern Spain, generously supported by the Junta de Andalucía. It was first released in June last year, in the Fleißtal valley in Austria, and flew away from the ledge where it was deposited as a full grown young on the 24th July 2012.
Between July and November Glocknerlady roamed across the Alps (see map below), but on 03.11.2012 it was found near Celje, Slovenia with wet feathers, weak and unable to fly, suffering from suspected lead poisoning. Brought to the Richard Faust Center in Haringsee, it was treated and recovered, and now it has been released again.
Soon after release, Glocknerlady produced a perfect flight presentation above the small group of people assembled at the top of Schareck peak, and even fought with a Golden Eagle, before she finally disappeared into the mountainous realm.
Her marking patterns are shown below