This week we received news that a young bearded vulture was seen in western Belgium on the morning of the 9th of May, near IJzervallei – IJzerbroeken Oostvleteren (Pollinkhove). You can find details and pictures of the bird here.
The bird is a first or second year bearded vulture, and apparently does not have any ring or markings, suggesting it is a wild bird – which could come from the Alps or the Pyrenees. All released birds (in the reintroduction projects managed by the VCF) get some of their wing-feathers bleached, which allows us to identify them in flight. These marks should still be visible in a two year old bird.
Flying great distances and exploring new areas is normal for young bearded vultures. To fly all the way to the north is not that common, but it happens every now and then. So far, all observations from the Netherlands, northern Germany, etc. were from birds in their first spring after fledgling.
The normal home of bearded vultures are the mountainous regions of Europe, Asia and Africa. There they find the perfect conditions for flying, steep walls for breeding & open landscape to search for bones to feed on. Therefore Belgium does not offer the perfect habitat for a bearded vulture.
Let’s hope the young bird finds the way back to the mountains!
Photo © Gilbert Liefhooghe