I awoke this morning and checked social media earlier than the espresso, solely to note a submit: “MEGA – a Cinereous Vulture [a.k.a. Eurasian Black Vulture] with a satellite tv for pc transmitter spent the evening within the arable fields close to Belgrade”. Superficially comparable however unrelated to New World condors, it’s big, extra pterodactyl-like than bird-like. I dipped it some years back — I’m not conscious of any native sightings since, and to this present day have by no means seen it.
Earlier than I used to be born, it was once a uncommon breeding species in mountainous areas south of Belgrade, however grew to become extinct after the Nineteen Sixties resulting from intensive poisoning of wolves. After that interval it was noticed very not often as a vagrant. On this century it was recorded solely twice.
So I checked the placement on satellite tv for pc imagery, to find that I can’t probably attain the spot. However it’s an enormous fowl. The Cinereous Vulture measures 98–120 cm (39–47 in) in complete size with a 2.5–3.1 m (8 ft 2 in – 10 ft 2 in) wingspan. Therefore, if I handle to discover a good vantage level, I may get fortunate, I used to be saying. Inside, I used to be extra like, no means, I stand no probability to get shut sufficient to that space. It’s a former floodplain with arable fields intersected by quite a few canals. Mainly, for Operation Vulture I want a tractor.
Stopping for a big cappuccino at a drive-in McDonalds en route, quickly I entered a hamlet of a dozen household houses blended with a dozen small condo buildings. Looking for my means into the encircling fields, I acquired misplaced in a maze of alleys ending up in entrance of some constructing entrance or a yard gate, however in any other case main nowhere.
Asking locals for the way in which — twice, I’m lastly again on the fundamental highway. Now, I observed a cobbled aspect observe main in direction of a bridge over a former river, straightened up and became a canal, however with a advantageous space of a spacious reedbed. Throughout the bridge and left onto a mud observe between the fields. To my shock, the observe was dry and even, an ideal driving floor. There’s an eagle… a White-tailed Eagle, a comparatively frequent and quite a few breeding species of riparian forests alongside giant water programs and fishponds.
Quickly I’m on the finish of the observe, and as I’ll uncover later, solely 900 metres / 0.55 miles from the in a single day spot of my fowl. One other eagle, a noticed eagle this time… my first Lesser Noticed Eagle of the season — they’ve simply began to seem, a really uncommon breeding species that continues to lower.
And so, observing the horizon, I’m taking a sip of espresso, all of the whereas checking the sky… Each my spouse and I have been anticipating some parcels for a very long time and simply this morning I acquired two messages from two completely different supply corporations that our parcels will arrive at this time. Not eager to see them going again to the UK, my birding time was reasonably restricted. I ought to return, only one extra sip of espresso, yet one more test of the horizon… and an enormous, darkish, pterodactyl-like creature is flying low! By way of the scope, it seems so shut that I managed to identify the sat transmitter! The Cinereous Vulture is distinctly darkish, with the entire physique being dark-brown (showing black) excepting the pale head in adults, which is roofed in advantageous blackish down. It’s hovering increased, ever increased, till it’s gone, nowhere to be noticed (seemingly, glided away).
A Bulgarian conservationist Emilian Stoynov advised me that this vulture hatched in 2021 in Spain and, rehabilitated, was transferred to neighbouring Bulgaria, acclimatised and launched in Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park in 2022. It has by no means visited these elements of Serbia earlier than.
And the Cinereous Vulture is a lifer to me! Normally I discover lifers abroad; it’s been some time since I had my final one at dwelling. Impressed by my success, different native birders have been planning to chase it within the afternoon, however the fowl’s transmitter quickly confirmed that it was already some 180 km / 110 mi to the southwest, at the nearest Griffon Vulture colony and a feeding station! It has by no means been there earlier than both. How the roaming birds discover such locations is just not totally clear. It turned out, I used to be the one native birder who managed to see it.
Photographs (2) by Hristo Peshev