on the way to Keshim, Afghanistan (Google, OSM)
Fayz abad, Badakhshan, AF
37.0330877039, 70.1208883655
Accuracy: 2270m
open

Description

I saw a vulture, not sure of the species, at about 10:30 on Tuesday 7 February flying at an altitude of about 20 meters above ground level in a north-easterly direction over the road from Fayzabad to Keshim in North-eastern Afghanistan. I have assumed that this was a Himalayan Vulture but it seems that it could also have been the Eurasian Black Vulture - Aegypius monachus. I would be very interested to have any further info or confirmations of the species distributions in this location.

Feb. 11, 2012 22:36:43 +0430
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Comments & Identifications

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Himalayan Vulture - Photo (c) Sergey Yeliseev, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND)
glynn's ID: Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayensis)
Posted by glynn about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Gyps fulvus is also in range there. Himalayan Vulture may not be, or at least may not be common there; a range map I found online for the Himalayan Vulture, http://www.planetofbirds.com/accipitriformes-accipitridae-himalayan-vulture-gyps-himalayensis, shows it restricted to an area ending just to the east of Afghanistan, but it's definitely seen in that country. Lammergeier is in range too; were you able to eliminate that on the basis of tail shape?

That's about as far as my armchair ornithology will take us. Maybe we'll get someone who knows more. Can you describe the bird? Did you see any color contrast? Were the wings held flat or up in a V-shaped angle? Any other details or impressions of behavior, shape, etc?

Posted by anita363 about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Hi Anita, thanks for your comment and the link. I can confirm that the vulture was not the Lammergeier. The bird was flying towards me (as I was travelling down the road) and I clearly saw the classic 'bald' head and neck which would exclude the Lammergeier. On reflection, in terms of behaviour, it was gliding slowly towards me and scanning with its head from side to side. The colouring under the body seemed lighter brown and streaky. The underside of the wings seemed darker (maybe?) than the underside of body... I had also thought that the bird may have been the The Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) - also known as the Black Vulture, Monk Vulture, or Eurasian Black Vulture - but the underbody (and wing) colouring was definitely lighter rather than darker. Based on the lighter colouring it may have been the Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus).

So, I am currently thinking it was either the Himalayan or Griffon... I would be interested if anyone else has any thoughts on this sighting...

Posted by glynn about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Sounds like you've ruled out Black, then. Progress! Himalayan vs Eurasian can apparently be problematic even for birds well seen; I couldn't tell the diff from images, so I went looking & found a good source online: http://www.caluta.liitin.net/Linnut/pedot/gyps/gyps_himalayensis.html. Check it out and see if anything leaps out at you, but I suspect it may remain a (relative) mystery bird. I found a (presumably) more authoritative range map, & Himalayan is definitely present in your area: http://mapservices.iucnredlist.org/IUCN/mapper/index.html?ID_NO=106003377 (though its omission on the other range map might suggest it's less common there).

Posted by anita363 about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Anita, thanks for these two links and your additional comments... the page on the identification of the two species is really helpful but my sighting was too unexpected and too brief (and I was too un-informed) to know what to look for. Either way, it was really exciting to see the bird at all. In the meantime, I will be travelling in this area again and I will keep my eyes open for any further opportunities for firming up the identification. Cheers for now, GLYNN

Posted by glynn about 2 years ago (Flag)
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Identification Summary

Himalayan Vulture - Photo (c) Sergey Yeliseev, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND)
glynn's ID: Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayensis)
glynn would like some help identifying this

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Data Quality Assessment

Community-supported ID? No
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Date? Yes
Georeferenced? Yes
Photos or sounds? No
Is the organism wild/naturalized? Unknown
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Does the location seem accurate? Unknown
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Does the date seem accurate? Unknown
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Observation © Glynn Morris
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