Rare bird sightings highlight potential of countryside near Worksop

Sightings of a rare bearded vulture highlight the potential of countryside on the doorstep of Worksop to support more magnificent birds of prey, experts say.

By Lucy Roberts
Friday, 31st July 2020, 11:08 am
The bearded vulture has been sighted in the area.
The bearded vulture has been sighted in the area.

The sightings across the Peak District and Sheffield moorlands are only the second time the species, usually found in southern Europe, has been seen in the UK.

Although the precise origin of the bird is yet to be confirmed, it is thought to be a juvenile from a reintroduction programme in the Alps.

Keith Tomkins, of Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, was one of the first people to see the bird locally, following a chance encounter while out walking in early July.

He said: “Even from a distance you can tell it is out of the ordinary.

“Its flight behaviour is quite different from the raptors I normally see, and when it came closer, the size of the bird made it apparent it was the bearded vulture.”

Bearded vultures are scavengers whose diet consists almost exclusively of animal bones, so they do not pose a threat to livestock or game birds.

Despite this however, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust is concerned for the safety of the vulture and other birds of prey due to the ongoing incidence of wildlife persecution in the area.

Keith said: “I have been lucky enough to see merlin, hobbies, peregrines, harriers, buzzards and even goshawk while out and about.

"Although there is only one bearded vulture here there are lots of other raptors, but unfortunately there are nowhere near as many as there should be.

"We need highlights such as this visit from the bearded vulture to raise more awareness of our birds of prey and the potential for our moorlands to be home to so many more of these magnificent birds.”

Keith’s colleague Ian Cracknell, advocacy officer at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, said: “While it is fantastic that so many people have been to see the bearded vulture roosting on our moors, this species is also really susceptible to disturbance.

“So we are asking people to please keep their distance and respect this wonderful bird."