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Huge bearded vulture spotted flying over Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 10:58 29 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:20 30 September 2020

A bearded vulture - also called a Lammergeier - was spotted near the Norfolk village of Foxley. Picture: James Lowen

A bearded vulture - also called a Lammergeier - was spotted near the Norfolk village of Foxley. Picture: James Lowen

James Lowen

Norfolk’s first-ever wild vulture has been spotted in the skies.

File photo of a bearded vulture in flight. Image: Luca Casale/Creative Commons licenceFile photo of a bearded vulture in flight. Image: Luca Casale/Creative Commons licence

A bearded vulture - also called a lammergeier - was seen in mid Norfolk on Monday, September 29.

Nature and travel writer James Lowen managed to get a couple of photos of the bird - whose wingspan can reach 2.5m (8.2ft) - near Foxley.

Mr Lowen said he first caught sight of the vulture, known as Vigo, when he was driving along the A1067.

He said it was the first-ever sighting of a wild vulture in East Anglia.

Rupert Masefield from the RSPB. Picture: Archant LibraryRupert Masefield from the RSPB. Picture: Archant Library

Mr Lowen said: “It was a shock to see such a huge bird - Norfolk’s first-ever wild vulture - fly over the road.

“I’m pleased that lots of local birdwatchers got to see Vigo before she departed.

“I hope the vulture will be relocated again in the coming days to give more people the opportunity to see it before she hopefully returns to her European mountain breeding grounds.”

Mr Lowen said for a couple of hours after he first spotted the vulture around 20 birdwatchers flocked to the scene to marvel at the sight, before the bird flew off towards Dereham.

He said Vigo - a female bird which has been monitored by conservationists throughout her life - was born in the Alps.

Mr Lowen said the vulture had spent the summer in the Peak District of Derbyshire and Yorkshire, and over the past few months thousands of people visited the Peaks just to catch a glimpse of the rare species.

He said she left Derbyshire about a week ago and was presumed to be heading back to continental Europe.

Mr Lowen said he believed it was only the second time such a bird had visited Britain.

Rupert Masefield from the RSPB said the vulture was a juvenile which had hatched and fledged last year.

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Mr Masefield said it was not clear if the vulture was still in Norfolk, but she should be easy to spot.

He said: “It’s much bigger than anything else most people would have seen. It has a tuft of feathers below its lower beak, hence the name ‘bearded vulture’.”

The breed was hunted to extinction in the Alps in the early 20th century.

A breeding and reintroduction programme started in the 1980s, and there are now thought to be more than 50 breeding pairs of bearded vulture in Europe.

They are more common in other parts of the world including central Asia and the Middle East.

They eat almost exclusively bone - making them the only vertebrate with such a diet.

As well as its formidable wingspan, the lammergeier is identifiable by its unusual, lozenge-shaped tail.


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