Himalayan griffon vulture spotted in Coimbatore district

A Coimbatore-based birder recently sighted and photographed a Himalayan griffon vulture (Gyps himalayensis) at Anaikatti, the first recording of the large raptor in the district.

An old world vulture native to the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau, Himalayan griffon vulture has previously been sighted at Moyar Valley in the Nilgiris and at Point Calimere in Tamil Nadu.

According to D. Gajamohanraj, who sighted the vulture, he spotted a large raptor on flight from Anaikatti ghat section around 5.10 p.m. while returning home after a regular birding session with his family at the Nilgiri Biosphere Nature Park on February 21.

“I immediately stopped the car and took some photographs, and was surprised to see that it was a vulture. As I followed it with my camera, it circled down into the valley below and perched on an Acacia tree, while being mobbed by a group of over 100 crows,” he said.

Mr. Gajamohanraj noticed that the bird was quite large in size, unlike any of the other vulture species he had sighted earlier in Coimbatore district - Indian vulture, White-rumped vulture, Red-headed vulture and Egyptian vulture, all residents in Tamil Nadu.

The three other species found in Tamil Nadu are migratory, namely Cinereous vulture, Himalayan griffon vulture and Eurasian griffon.

Mr. Gajamohanraj consulted with experts and confirmed that the sighting was that of a juvenile Himalayan griffon vulture.

“After the vulture perched on the tree, Anaikatti hills received good showers. I returned to the spot early next morning and found the vulture basking in the sun before leaving the place,” he said.

Vulture expert B. Ramakrishnan of Government Arts College, Udhagamandalam, said that the Himalayan griffon vulture migrated to other places from its breeding grounds during winter.

“Sporadic sighting of Cinereous vulture, Himalayan griffon vulture and Eurasian griffon is reported in Moyar Valley during the migratory season. Juvenile vultures are known for their vagrant movements and travel long distances. Unlike dense forests, like the one at Moyar valley, visibility of carcasses is high in thorny forests such as Anaikatti hills. This could be a reason behind the sighting of the Himalayan griffon vulture at Anaikatti,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 6:14:28 AM |

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