The griffon vulture that likes the Netherlands

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In the last decade Griffons turn up in the Netherlands almost every year. With the closest known breeding site more than 1000 kilometers away, the species remains a rare vagrant. In 2016 a group of 11 vultures turned up in early May, and spent 2 days in the Netherlands before leaving south again; on May 19th a single bird was found flying over near the North Sea coast. Birders were able to follow the bird for several days along the Dutch coast, until it finally settled on the island of Texel. 

Here, the Griffon was a major attraction, not only for birders, locals and tourists, but also for the local cattle and wildlife. During its stay, the weather was quite bad with lots of wind and rain, not ideal circumstances for a soaring bird. The bird started to weaken, so a decision was made to provide food (a roadkill hare and a dead Brent goose), which were quickly found and eaten by the bird. The video in this link shows some great footage of the bird (source:

As you can see in the video, the bird wears a yellow ring with code RO4. With this code, the life-history of this bird is well-known. It was ringed in the Centro Naturaleza Cañada Real, Peralejo, Madrid, Spain, where it had been taken into care after being found weakened in the wild. It was released on 11-5-2015. It was first seen again in August 2015…..on the island of Texel, the Netherlands! So this bird returned this year to the same place as it spent several days last year!

Griffons are able to fly over great distances, all over Europe (and outside). In the lowlands of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, small groups are observed and photographed each year. Larger groups, up to a 100 birds, have been seen as well. By carefully checking the birds, birders have been able to read several rings or markings. With that information the origin of the birds can be found. Most of the observed birds in the Low Countries have an origin in the Pyrenees, but also birds from Italy were reported in the Netherlands.

Photo: Eric Menkveld

Text: Hans Pohlmann

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