Friday, 22 February 2013

A squabble over food

We still don't know whether the griffon vultures found in the Riyadh area a few weeks ago are the resident and/or breeders or wintering birds.

Personal correspondence with Mike Jennings (author of the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia) confirms that the colony he knew went extinct by the 1990's and he adds " Of course at this time of the year it is quite possible that birds roosting on cliffs could be wintering birds from the Balkans, Georgia or other spots east, as there is plenty of radio tag evidence that they spend winter in Arabia from those places" .

Mansur Al Fahad visited them again last week and they hadn't moved. He was luckily enough to witness a squabble over food between one of the vultures and a steppe eagle

All the photographs are cropped from his originals and I am grateful to him for allowing me this privilege once again. 

A griffon vulture watching a steppe eagle eat

The local Bedouins know exactly what they are doing when they put their dead sheep and camel out in the same area each time. So Mansur knows where to go each time to see feeding.  He witnessed a steppe eagle eating a carcass and a griffon vulture losing his patience.

Griffon vulture is fed up waiting

I don't know all the details but it looks like a got more complicated. The griffon vulture had to contend with an eastern imperial eagle too.

Aerial battle between Griffon vulture and eastern imperial eagle

If the vultures were to stay, in a few weeks at most the griffon vulture wouldn't have as much competition for food as the eagles will have migrated north themselves.

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