Isles of Scilly: Egyptian vulture seen in UK for first time in 150 years

BBC

16th June, 2021 12:52:24 PM printer

Isles of Scilly: Egyptian vulture seen in UK for first time in 150 years

An Egyptian vulture has been seen in the UK for the first time in what is believed to be more than 150 years.

Described as a "once-in-a-century" sighting, it is thought it may have come to the Isles of Scilly from Northern France.

If the "incredibly rare" sighting is confirmed to be a wild bird, it would be the first since 1868, say experts.

Birdwatchers are expected to flock to the isles for a chance to spot it before it moves on.

Isles of Scilly Travel told the BBC it believed there were now around 40 enthusiasts on the islands trying to catch a glimpse of the vulture.

The bird was first seen at Peninnis Head on St Mary's on Monday before moving on to Tresco.

There have been two official sightings recorded in the UK - one in Somerset in 1825 and another in Essex in 1868.

Prof Stuart Bearhop, an ecologist with the University of Exeter, said: "If proven to be of wild origin then it would be the first sighting for 150 years, maybe a bit longer. It's an incredibly rare sighting."

"I think people will travel to see it, people are looking at it as a once-in-a-century bird," he said.

Egyptian vultures can be found in parts of southern Spain and northern France.

Prof Bearhop said he believed it was likely the bird came from France and became confused while migrating for some reason.

The bird of prey is in decline worldwide, making the sighting even rarer.

It has been featured in Egyptian hieroglyphs, and is one of the only birds of prey known to use tools when hunting.

The identification of the species will be done by the British Birds Rarities Committee, and then passed to the British Ornithologists Union Records Committee to be verified or not as a true wild bird sighting.


Top