Monday, March 1, 2010


This is the sort of image that we are use to here in the Strait of Gibraltar. Some Griffons breed in the area while others cross between Europe and Africa on migration. In spring, like other large raptors, they are mobbed by Yellow-legged Gulls defending their nests. Nowadays the Griffon and the Egyptian Vulture are the only species that breed in the area, and the latter is getting rarer each year. The Black Vulture is a winter visitor and occasionally crosses the Strait. The Bearded Vulture is the rarest of the four but does turn up from time to time. Poisoning and shooting has decimated vulture numbers. But go back to the mid-nineteenth century and a very different picture emerges. Then, all four western Palaearctic vultures bred in the area and were quite abundant. And that picture must have been a long-standing one. In Gorham's Cave we've excavated the remains of all four species going back to 50 thousand years ago. To see all four species together today we have to go to the Pyrenees. These photographs were taken in 2008 and 2009 in the Pyrenees and recall what it was once like in the south.

Griffon Vulture:

Egyptian Vulture:

Black Vulture:

Black Vulture over Gibraltar after crossing the Strait in spring,with gull entourage

Bearded Vulture: