Huge, rare ‘bone eating’ vulture stuns motorists when it lands in Peterborough

Motorists in Peterborough were stunned when the huge vulture - with an eight feet wingspan - landed in the middle of the road.

By Ben Jones
Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 4:40 am
Lammergeier in flight over Thorney on Saturday (Photo: Hedley Wright)
Lammergeier in flight over Thorney on Saturday (Photo: Hedley Wright)

The bearded vulture, or Lammergeier, is rarely seen in the UK but had been spotted by bird watchers in Moulton Chapel and Cowbit on Thursday and Friday.

On Saturday (October 10), the bird, which has been named ‘Vigo’ by bird-watching enthusiasts, was pictured flying northeast over Eye Green and was later seen landing close to the A47 at Thorney.

Birdwatchers in the area were being asked to remove any roadkill they could see from the roads to safeguard the vulture.

Bearded vulture, Vigo, holding up traffic near Peterborough on Saturday

The bearded vulture would usually be found in the Alpine regions in central Europe after a population was released into the wild there.

Experts believe that the vulture crossed the English Channel in June after encountering bad weather.

It is believed to have first arrived on the south coast, before working its way up to the Peak District, where it spent the summer roosting. The Peak District provided an ideal location for the vulture to satisfy its diet, which mainly consists of bones, largely from sheep carcusses in the surrounding fields.

Since September, the bird has drifted further south, perhaps on its way back to its alpine home.

Bearded Vulture, Vigo, in flight over Cambridgeshire

The first sightings of the bearded vulture over British skies was in 2016 over Dartmoor in Devon but they can also be found in the Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian seas, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Tibet.

The birds live and breed on crags in high mountains, feed mainly on bones from the carcasses of large herbivores and their distinguishing feature is their feathered neck. This distinctive tuft of feathers under their lower beak is where they derive their name.

They tend to lay two or three eggs in winter before they hatch in spring.

The bearded vulture is categorised as ‘near threatened’, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. In the area between Spain and Russia there are only 600 to 1,000 pairs.