Griffon vulture in the Wonnegau in the middle of Germany

Eurasian GriffonCurrently, an unusual visitor from the south of Europe can be seen in an area of Rheinhessen between the cities of Gruenstadt, Worms and Ludwigshafen. The distance to Frankfurt am Main is only 100km in south-western direction. The bird is a Eurasian Griffon – or Griffon Vulture – (Gyps fulvus). The Vulture has been detected in the area on 02nd of January 2014 . Most Birder observe with spotting scopes from the concrete field roads that run through this intensively used agriculture landscape. The last days, the vultures could be observed in a field between the suburbs Obersuelzen and Obrigheim. The area is intensively  used by wind farm deployments – as you see in the images.

After days with mild but rainy weather the forecast for Sunday afternoon was quite favorable and I took the chance to photograph in a sudden clearing of the skies some shots of the Eurasian Griffon sitting on the ground of a field, which later took flight. A few pictures can be seen here. The Vulture is not an particulary shy, but you should not startle the bird and additionally the rain has extremely softened the fields and the field roads not fixed with a hard surface. Photo distances are therefore to be bridged only with a long tele lens.

When I arrived on Sunday, 5th of Jan. 2014, it was very cloudy. The bird sat quietly in a field and was only occasionally harassed without haste by some Carrion Crows (Corvus corone) flying over the big bird. The Crows seemed to be quite friendly – at least compared to the behavior when a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) showed up. Fiercely this raptor was attacked. The griffon vulture was found not worried. Only now and then he scratched the bill with his legs. As the sun came out, he find to be much more active, shook the feathers, fanned the wings, took on the field to run for the start and eventually took off without apparent effort. The Vulture did a lap and landed on a field with winter crops . From there, he flew back to the area where I had found him. Unfortunately the sun delighted more and more walkers – some with dogs – to have a little walk around and they turned up at the edges of the area. The  Eurasian Griffon retreated to a corner of the fields, that was quite concealed from the concrete road.

As described above, the vultures still holds on in the area. But he is not necessarily settled to a certain spot. So he sat some days ago initially on trees in an area called “Landgraben” and then flew low towards north.

Overall, I can confirm the impression already expressed in the national wide birders platform “”. The bird makes a healthy, perhaps slightly exhausted impression. It also shows the perception of a normal escape behavior on not too large distances. It was said that a call was made to the local hunting community that the vulture was very ill. A hunter drove his car closer to the animal , to help him to check it. Let´s hope, that the bird survives this, too.

In general, there was good birding in the area. When I approached the Vulture, I found a female Hen (or Northern) Harrier (Circus cyaneus). This Harrier hovered low over ground between the vine yards and the windbreak hedges. High in the sky over the area a Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) flying over could be seen. As far as I could see a male, which was chased by a flock of Carrion Crows (Corvus corone).

In order to meet the growing demand for top images of the rarer species of Palaearctic has specifically made ​​trips to remote places like the coastal mountains of western Norway, in the winter to a secluded harbor in Denmark or to “normal” locations in one of the most populated areas in Middle Europe. This is to do everything to ensure excellent photos of the Birds of the Western Palearctic. The results in pictures also of rare Western Palearctic birds are very good. The beautiful pictures, that you see in the gallery are just a first impression of what you will find behind the tab “Picture Shop” very soon are. Just give a notice if you need a picture of a bird before the new images are online.


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