Dear mr. Max Muster!

A long winter is almost over
Despite all adverse weather conditions in this never-ending winter the Bearded Vultures have started to breed – some right after Christmas, some only by the end of February – and so there are already some chicks in the nests, and some couples are still waiting for their offspring to hatch. As far as we can say at the moment it will be a very good season for the Bearded Vultures in the Alps. At least 23 pairs have started with incubation. Another 2 or 3 pairs that were reproducing in the last years haven´t started to breed at all. And there are new pairs forming that might be breeding in the next years for the first time. So we are talking about at least 30 pairs in the Alps by now. That´s a new record!
All along with these good news we get also information about a new case of lead poisoning e.g. lately again in Austria. Although this time a Golden Eagle was effected, the threat of potential lead poisoning keeps up also for the still very vulnerable bearded vulture population. It will be an important issue to keep the conditions good and save for the development of a stable and self-sustaining bearded vulture population in the Alps and the neighbouring mountain ranges in the following years.

Sincere regards
Andreas Schwarzenberger and Richard Zink

Alpine Overview

In the National Park Hohe Tauern the 2 known couples have started with incubation around the 20th of January as expected. The regular snow falls in this winter and the perfect foraging situation for the vultures made it possible to watch a very rare spectacle in the eastern part of the Hohe Tauern. At the end of February 6 different individuals were observed in one valley. In the territory of the breeding pair Katschberg the juvenile bird of the pair of 2012 (Primus), 2 immature birds (Kruml 2011, Smaragd) and an unknown subadult female were sitting around together on an avalanche feeding on the carcass of a chamois. The subadult female was not chased by the territorial male (Hubertus 2) and after some days of interactions at the nest the breeding failed. At the moment the territorial female Ambo is gone and Hubertus 2 is flying harmoniously together with the subadult female. For good news of the pair Rauris we are still waiting.
Picture: Kruml 2011, Smaragd and the subadult female on the carcass. © Michael Knollseisen

In Switzerland there are not less than 8 reproductive pairs by now. The experienced couples of Albula, Tantermozza and Derborence have started breeding in January and rear a chick now. The younger pair of Foraz that has not been successful up to now started with incubation at the beginning of February. And a very new pair has formed recently in Poschiavo, a border area to Italy. Despite the pair is quite young – one of the partners is still subadult -, a nest has been occupied and a clutch was produced by the end of February. The couple is still incubating and it will be very exciting if this young pair can already raise a chick. In Western Switzerland another pair has started with its first breeding season very early this year, but has already failed by the end of January. The un-experienced couple has been disturbed by other adult and subadult birds what was most likely the reason for the failure.
A new phenomenon is shown in 2 other couples in the Central Alps: the pair Ofenpass and the pair Sinestra did not even start to breed this year. According to D. Jenny this could already be a hint for the very dense population in the area and a higher degree of disturbance by other bearded vultures. So parts of the Alpine population could already get into a further step of the population development.
Picture: Nest of the pair Foraz. © Curdin Eichholzer

The 3 well known pairs of the Stelvio National Park (Livigno, Braulio, Zebru) have started with incubation early in January. Therefore the chicks hatched in the first half of March. The fledging can be expected by the end of June/ beginning of July. In the region Valle d´Aosta the pair of Chamoussière and the trio in Valle di Rhêmes, both successful last year, have started with breeding a bit later. Therefore the chicks hatched at the end of March. The parents look carefully after their offspring and so a second successful year can be expected.
In the northern Italian province of South Tyrol even two new pairs have started with a first breeding attempt. As the couples are still young incubation started late by mid of February and is still going on. We are curious what this season will bring for the newcomers.

The first successful breeding pair in Bargy has started quite late this year, only at the beginning of February. The other pairs in the monitoring area of ASTERS in Haute Savoie started earlier (Aravis) or even later (Sixt Fiz). The chicks are born and the monitoring at the nest will go on until the young vultures have fledged. In the National Park Vanoise the 3 well known pairs are also doing fine. The first clutch in this season was produced by the pair of Termignon. It is typical for experienced couples that they start with incubation significantly earlier than young pairs. Have a look into the nest of the pair Termignon here.
In the south of the French Alps another seasoned couple has also started early in January. Sereno and his partner (GT036) raise now their 4th chick in the region Haute Ubaye. But not enough! At the beginning of March another young couple started to breed in the region Haute Tinée. The male is a young adult named Rocca, the female is even subadult and was recently identified by the team of the National Park Mercantour. Girasole was released in the neighbouring Italian Natural Park Alpi Marittime in 2008. Keep your fingers crossed for this young pair and let´s hope that it will be successful.
Picture: Pair Sixt Fiz at its nest. © N. Lanneree

Annual Meeting in Rhêmes-Saint-Georges, Regione Valle d´Aosta, I

The next Annual Meeting will take place in the conference room named "Maison Pellissier" in the municipality of Rhêmes-Saint-Georges from the 9th to the 10th of November 2013. In the afternoon of 10th of November, there will be an excursion to the Valle di Rhêmes, not so far from the conference room. The IBM Steering Committee will be hosted by the Gran Paradiso National Park in the info-centre in Rhêmes-Notre-Dame on the 11th of November. We are looking forward to visit this beautiful area in the north-western part of the Alps!

Bearded Vultures on the move

The young bearded vultures that have been released last year are now exploring further areas of the Alps, but not only in the Alps. Inge, released in the Hohe Tauern National Park last year, has done a little excursion into the flatland of Bavaria, Germany on Wednesday. The situation was drastic as her nest sister Glocknerlady has already undertaken a strange journey to Slovenia last autumn and has been caught and brought to the raptor centre in Haringsee. She had a raised lead level in the blood and behavioural disorders. Now Glocknerlady is fully recovered and is ready for a second release in the National Park in the next weeks. For Inge the signs were better and she already returned into the Alps in Upper Austria one day after her trip to Germany. Have a look on the maps of Jakob, Smaragd, Inge and Glocknerlady.
Picture: Map of Inge´s journey. © SPB/FPG, SWILD

For the Swiss birds click here.

The birds Nisa (2011), Bellemotte and Angèlo (both 2012) have been released in the Regional Natural Park of Vercors. Watch their journeys on the website of Vercors.

And for the birds released in the area of Grands Causses in the French Massif Centrale you can find maps on the LPO homepage.

The latest newsletter of “Bearded vultures on the move” for March 2013 has been sent out last week! It provides information about the birds released in Calfeisen, CH (only in German language). Sign up here for the newsletter.

International Observation Days

The final summary for the International Observation Days IOD 2012 is out now. More than 720 observers on 446 posts spread all over the Alpine range and a number of 350 observations made between the 5th and the 14th of October. All together 127 different individuals could be identified or at least distinguished, approximately 2/3 of the estimated population in the Alps. These are the astonishing results of the 7th Observation Days!
Picture: Adult bearded vulture in Valle di Rhêmes. © Fabrizio Truc

Please have a look at the Report on the IOD 2012 on our website www.gyp-monitoring.com.
Once more many thanks to all the observers and the local coordinators, thank you for your incredible efforts!

Please note! The next International Observation Days will be on the 12th of October 2013.

Report on first release in Grands Causses 2012
The results of the first release in the Regional Natural Park of Grands Causses are now put together in a report. Have a look at the report
The second release will take place in May this year. The date is not fixed yet as it is not clear which young bearded vultures will be chosen for this area.

New case of lead poisoning
In Western Austria a Golden Eagle with major behavioural disorders has been found not far from Innsbruck, Tyrol at the end of March. The blood analysis gave a clear picture: 4730 µg lead /l is a more or less lethal level for a bird. Despite all professional treatment the Eagle died after a few days. This is only one of several cases most of which have never been discovered. This should push the discussion for lead-free ammunition forward and bring the responsible persons to make decisions for a better protection of our raptors and their environment!

Tyrol: shooting of Golden Eagle “costs” € 2000,-
Last June a young South Tyrolean hunter shot a Golden Eagle in the Ötztal, Tyrol, Austria. The lawsuit was conducted in February 2013. Despite the protection status of the bird and the demonstrable purpose of the shooter the judge gave the accused hunter the possibility for a diversion with a fine of € 2000,-. If the man doesn´t do any further illegal action, he will be "respectable" again. Read more on tirol.orf.at (only in German).

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