Austrian Eagle (Probably Griffon Vulture)

My wife and myself have just returned from two weeks in the mountains in Austria, walking and botanising. The weather during the first week was mixed, cloudy and damp but with some sun, the second week was great with lots and lots of nice sunshine and warm temperatures. Whilst we did not see too many birds (well we had our heads down looking for flowers!) one birding event just has to be recorded.

It was during the first week and we were walking down the mountain from one gondola station to the one below it. To our right was a ridge and the valley below was filled with mist. Suddenly from behind the ridge rose an eagle riding a thermal! This first one was followed by more; we actually counted 19 but this was not all or them, so more than 20 eagles spread across the sky in front of use – fantastic!

They were spread across the sky and I only managed the one picture, the top one. I believe that these will be Golden Eagles but I am very willing to be corrected on this. The first picture is the original and the other two are cropped sections to show a bit more detail.

We have seen similar once before, but with just five birds, in 2003 just a few miles away from this spot.

The area of Austria that we visited was the Kitzsteinhorn Mountain staying in the village of Kaprun. If anyone is interested in more information on the area I refer to a couple of blogs that I put on GoY last July

http://www.growsonyou.com/bulbaholic/blog/5313-21-austria-mountains-1

http://www.growsonyou.com/bulbaholic/blog/5363-austrian-mountains-2-mooserboden-dam

Comments

27 Sep, 2010
P1150022_1
jane said:

What a wonderful sight that must have been Bulbaholic !!! I cannot tell whether they were Golden Eagles...but the sight of so many eagles filling the sky would have left me speechless ! Thank you so much for sharing this moment.

27 Sep, 2010
Img_0138_1
robashfield said:

Chance of a lifetime! would like to see one,let alone 20 brill!

28 Sep, 2010
Dipper
david said:

Must have been an awesome sight! The man pic has cropped very well. Beautiful birds.

28 Sep, 2010
Fulmar_cropped
bulbaholic said:

It was an incredible sight. In Scotland I have never seen more than one at a time and assumed that the previous sighting in Austria was a family group. There must have been several families here!

29 Sep, 2010
P1220732
bonkersbon said:

What a brilliant experience that must have been for you both !

5 Oct, 2010
268passer
fractal said:

I think they are Griffin Vultures. The wing shape and light under wing suggests this. There is a remnant population near Salzburg in Austria. Were you anywhere near Salzburg MrB?

5 Oct, 2010
Fulmar_cropped
bulbaholic said:

Kaprun and the Kitzsteinhorn aree about two hours (say 80Km) to the south of Salzburg, Fractal.

8 Oct, 2010
Fulmar_cropped
bulbaholic said:

Hi Fractal. I have just found the time to campare the two birds in web pictures. From the shape of the tail I think that you may well be right. Golden Eagles have a strainght edge to the tail whilst that of the Griffin Vulture is triangular.
Our European bird book is not very good and its location map for the Griffin Vulture shows it appearing in Spain, where we have seen it, but the jumping across to the Balkans. However, I do not doubt your information about the Salzburgh population.
Interestingly, many plants follow the same geographical path. There are a good number that grow in the Pyrenees and again in Bulgaria, but not in between. Probably something to do with the ice age glaciation.

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