Guernsey welcomes its latest resident: the griffon vulture

A A A

If you have retired to Guernsey to spend the rest of your days in comfort, beware. A vulture may be circling over your bungalow.

If you have retired to Guernsey to spend the rest of your days in comfort, beware. A vulture may be circling over your bungalow.

An 8ft-wingspan griffon vulture was spotted in the Channel Islands yesterday, the first of its kind to be seen on territory of the United Kingdom for 73 years.

The carrion-eating predator is thought to have been carried by warm winds northwards from its home in Spain or Portugal to Britain's most southerly outpost. It appeared over Guernsey on Thursday and roosted that night on the island's cliffs at La Clevouteille. It was seen again yesterday.

"It turned up on Sark and then moved to Guernsey at lunchtime on Thursday on easterly winds," said Tim Earl, a Guernsey birdwatcher. It was the 256th species he had recorded on the island. "It was seen patrolling the cliffs on our south coast and eating part of a dead rabbit."

Griffon vultures normally inhabit dry valleys or plateaux, over which they soar in search of carrion, nesting on cliff edges or in caves. Their range stretches from Iberia to Turkey and they are becoming rare, with an estimated 10,000 pairs remaining.

The Guernsey bird is expected to be a bank holiday magnet for British birdwatchers, who would normally have to travel much further to see it. Few of today's active twitchers were alive for the last British griffon vulture sighting, when two birds showed up at Ashbourne, Derbyshire, in June, 1927. The only previous British Isles report was at Cork, Ireland, in 1843.

The vultures do seem to be gathering over northern Europe. An even bigger black vulture - this species' wing span stretches to more than 9ft - appeared at De Maasvlakte, a coastal plain near Rotterdam, Holland, almost a fortnight ago. The bird was initially reported to be very weak but it regained strength after finding and eating a dead gull.

There has also been a smaller Egyptian vulture - with a wing span of only around 6ft - wandering around southern Sweden. It was recently spotted near Malmo.

Like the griffon, the black and Egyptian vultures nest in Spain. It is believed that they must have drifted far to the north of their normal territories as a result of warm southerly winds.

It could be a sign of global warming. Let us hope that it does not presage the end of civilisation.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence