Spartacus on the migration way to Africa [ 2010-10-01 03:11:15 ]

Almost two months ago, a BSPB team tagged a satellite transmitter to juvenile Egyptian Vulture in a nest in the Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria. It has an important mission, which is to carry the transmitter twice a year across three continents during its migration, wintering and return to the natal areas. We hope that the modern technology will reveal unknown details of the vulture’s life and shed light on the poorly known wintering grounds of the Egyptian Vultures from Bulgaria. We named it Spartacus, because we wanted to inspire it with courage, strength and confidence during its uneasy and full with dangers life of an Egyptian Vulture.


Spartacus, who we hope will carry out the so important for its species task, is the first chick, hatched in a nest with two. Its parents, supported by a nearby feeding station, are breeding on a cliff neighboring the BSPB’s Nature Conservation Center “Eastern Rhodopes” in the town of Madjarovo. In the last few years the territory is the most successful one in Bulgaria. The mother of Spartacus was ringed in 2005 and since then she raised totally 11 juveniles from two different male partners (the first male died from pesticide poisoning in 2007).


On 19th of August Spartacus did its first flight. The first week after his fledging Spartacus and his sibling spend in the close area around the nest, not distancing on more than a kilometer. On 23th of August Spartacus was photographed feeding on the feeding station near Madjarovo and later he was observed drinking water from Arda river. On 13-th of September, after it was observed around the feeding station, eating with its whole family a dead Hedgehog, Spartacus departured on migration, leaving on the long way south to Africa, crossed the North-eastern corner of Greece and at 14:00 reached the surroundings of Corlu west of Istanbul, Turkey. Later till 21.09 it wandered in an area well populated with Egyptian Vultures west of Ankara, while on 21-st of September it was already in South Turkey and we hope that it will safely cross the Middle East, which is proved to be a very dangerous area for raptors, with many migrants finding their death there.

The buying and putting of the satellite transmitter is funded by Ed Keeble (RSPB), David Broadly (Richmond & Twickenham RSPB Group), Barbara Cross and Michael Roberts (RSPB).

This is only the third transmitter put on the species in Bulgaria, after one in 2001 and second in 2008. The bird with the first transmitter reached Chad in Central Africa but probably died by unknown reasons (Meyburg et al. 2004). The second bird was tagged by Green Balkans and it reached the western coast of Sinai peninsula in Egypt where the signal stopped.