Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Eurasian Griffons in the Judean Desert

On Tuesday (14/9) I joined the NPA team to ring griffons in the Judean Desert. The griffon ringing and tagging project in Israel began several years ago, and since 50-150 griffons are ringed annually and many others recaptured. The griffon ringing takes place in several places: Gamla Nature Reserve, Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve, Sde Boker (Negev) and mostly in the Judean Desert, where the largest Israeli population exists.

This research is extremely important for the conservation of the endangered griffon population and provides invaluable data on their movement inside Israel and in the whole region. This time 60 griffons were captured, but most were recaptured; 60 birds are a high proportion of the local population... Each griffon was ringed with one metal and two plastic colour rings, wing-tag attached, a full set of images taken, and blood samples taken too. For many griffons we had to replace their very worn marks (rings or wing tags). This replacement is definitely a big challenge for our database. Few griffons were fitted with GPS transmitters, which provide very valuable spatial data.

GPS transmitter

Griffon ringing is exciting but also requires much care; their bites are very dangerous!

Most of the ringed griffons were local, but few were migrants or winter visitors, originating from the Balkans and southern Europe. In recent days we were got regards from one of our griffons. N-1939 was ringed in autumn 2007 in Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve and observed in the past in Greece and Turkey; it is a European griffon and a regular winter visitor in Israel. Now, it was observed again in Dadia forest, Greece (31/8) and in Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park, Bulgaria (9/9), and we hope to see him back in Israel soon.

View N-1939.kmz in a larger map

Thanks to Ohad Hatzofe (NPA) for his invitation and for the griffon data.