3 Rüppell’s Vultures at Tétouan (24-05-2014)

By | 24 May 2014
It seems like these Rüppell’s Vultures (Gyps rueppellii) are following our footsteps.  This time, we didn’t even go to see them. They came to us!

Early morning today, we went to Smir wetland for our usual birding and also to survey the local heronry to see the progression of the breeding season of the Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) and the Glossy Ibis (Pleagadis falcinillus).During the afternoon, we went to our preferred suburban forest that holds some interesting species of raptors (5 species in a relatively small area). It’s located just some 5 Km north of Tétouan. While watching and photographing some birds, we spotted two Griffon Vultures very high above our heads. Soon, other birds joined and there are now some 20 vultures. We didn’t wait long to spot a Rüppell’s Vulture (at 16:03), we also took a quick picture to ensure the identification and for the record (the birds still very high). The vultures, now numbering 35, were still circling high and after some minutes they moved to the south (towards Tétouan). We were pleased with our Rüppell’s Vulture and returned to the car. But after some minutes later, we saw them losing altitude and wanted to land some 1 Km from us. Woww! What a chance! there must be a carcase nearby. We spent some 30 minutes searching for their location in the forested area and also in the open habitat surrounding the woodland.

When finally found the vultures at a carcass, we counted 3 Rüppell’s Vultures among 32 Griffon Vultures. We took photographs of the birds in different sittings (at the carcass, in the open field and on the trees…). It was difficult to record all three Rüppell’s Vultures in one picture because the group were moving around, but we managed to take some poor photos showing all three together.

In late afternoon, the vultures split into 2 groups and some of them went to roost on the trees. A local Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) was seen mobbing some vultures that were roosting near his nest.
Rachid & Mohamed
(As a rule, when you see these two names together, photographs always taken by Rachid El Khamlichi)
Edit: on 25 May, we went back to the vultures, where we found the 3 Rüppell’s Vultures, 38 Griffon Vultures (6 more than yesterday). We also found a MEGA rarity: a White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus).
One of the Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Tetouan, 24-05-2014. (Rachid El Khamlichi)
Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) and Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) at the carcass.
Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) and Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) at the carcass.
Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Tétouan, northern Morocco.

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