On Friday 9 December 2016, BirdLife Cyprus volunteers and staff, together with the Game and Fauna Service and the SBA Environmental Department, carried out the annual winter census of the Griffon Vulture for 2016/17. The team of observers covered seven look-out points spread across the vulture feeding range and known breeding and roosting cliffs, while the Game and Fauna Service set up cameras at the vulture feeding stations.
In the early part of the census day, 11 vultures were seen at Zapalo cliffs and Tunnel Beach, while 6 birds were at Ay. Yiannis cliffs. Most of the birds left the coastal cliffs by mid-morning and most of the ‘action’ during the rest of the census day was around the Ay. Yiannis feeding station.
After last year’s lack of breeding evidence, it was encouraging that a potential nest was observed at Zapalo cliffs this year. We also had good views of two tagged vultures, including CCT, a Cypriot bird (that is, not one of the vultures brought from Crete and released in Cyprus to reinforce the Cyprus Griffon Vulture population) tagged in April 2016.
Based on observer counts, the estimated maximum count was 21 vultures, which suggests there have been no further losses following the deaths of seven birds early in the year, due to poisoning. Stay tuned for more complete information that will be available over the next days, when the data from the cameras will be analysed.
Once again we thank our team of dedicated volunteers for helping make the annual Griffon Vulture census possible!