Brit twitchers a-tizz at bearded vulture sighting

Mighty bird sets claw in UK for first time

The mighty bearded vulture. Pic: Shutterstock

Brit birdwatchers are all a-tizz at the news that a bearded vulture has been spotted in Wales and Devon - the first time Gypaetus barbatus has set claw on UK soil.

The bearded vulture, aka lammergeier or ossifrage, was spied on the Welsh side of the Second Severn Crossing last week, and then put in an appearance over Dartmoor at the weekend.

It's believed to be the same juvenile which dropped in on Belgium on 9 May. The Vulture Conservation Foundation reckons it's a wild animal – perhaps from the Alps or the Pyrenees – as opposed to an individual reintroduced into the Alps as part of a conservation programme.

These birds have some of their wing feathers "bleached, which allows us to identify them in flight" – a characteristic absent in the wandering youngster.

The bearded vulture's normal range is over high mountains in southern Europe, the Caucasus, Africa, India and Tibet, where it feeds on a singular diet of animal carcass bone marrow, according to the Plymouth Herald.

Its cunning strategy for extracting the marrow from large bones is to carry them aloft, drop them on to rocks below and swoop down to feast on the shattered remains.

Regarding the UK lammergeier sighting, Josh Jones, news editor at BirdGuides, said: "I think we’re going to have a lot of people wanting to take a look. This is special bird and we could get monster crowds." ®


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