Immature Lammergeier – a first for the UK and of course Devon!
The bird was first seen at Sudbrook in Gwent on May 12 by Dale Kedward, from Caldicot who spotted the Lammergeier while walking his dog; a short video clip can be seen here. It is probably the bird seen in Belgium on 9th May. Josh Jones, from Bird Guides, said the signs indicated that the sighting was of a wild bird, possibly offspring from bearded vultures living in the Alps.
The Lammergeier in Gwent was seen to fly east, then circle and head west and a few days later was spotted over Dartmoor the first sighting may have been about 0930 – 0945 on Monday 16 when a large bird of prey was seen to fly from Rippon Tor towards Cold East Cross / Ruddycleave Valley.
Meanwhile Barrie Whitehall was carrying out some bird recording on Dartmoor and became aware of a large bird of prey at around 11:35am. It was circling out over the Bala Brook (SX670634) and then the old Shipley Tramway north west of what is called on the OS the Avon Filtration Station. It slowly drifted north east over Zeal Hill and Brent Moor on a track likely to take it over the road up to the Avon Dam. It was circling low scanning the ground and there are plenty of carcasses out there if it should chance to find one. Having seen many of these birds in 1979 in the Himalyas Barrie recognised it as an immature Lammergeier.
John Gale managed to see the bird later that day and both he and Barrie were interviewed on Radio Devon and their interesting conversations can be listened to by clicking on their names below.
The Lammergeier feeds on dead animals and bones, and adults have a huge wingspan of up to 2.8m (9.2ft).
Bird seen Fri 20th May 11.05 – 11.30 hrs, whilst undertaking some fieldwork, I recorded a / the bearded vulture soaring over Cookworthy Plantation, NW Devon. It was mobbed by two different buzzards before it finally went into a long, long glide due west towards Holsworthy. Simon Geary