Griffon Vulture Santuary in Beli, Cres

“The Griffon vultures on Cres are the only Vultures that roost by the sea anywhere in the world, possibly a legacy of when the sea level was much lower, as far back as 9000 years. So when young vultures are fledging, making that all important first flight, they often hit the sea if they make any mistakes. They can sometimes make their way back to the beach, but that is as far as they can get so if they don’t drown, they usually die on the beach. This can happen at anytime, but when the young birds are startled into that first flight before they are really ready, they crash land in the sea. And what makes them go early? Often as not tourist boats going much too close to the colony, frightening the birds into a premature flight.

There are very strict rules against shooting these birds in Croatia, but vultures are no respecters of international boundaries, and several have been shot in Italy. In fact the birds from Cres have been recorded amazingly far afield, with sightings in places as diverse as The Alps, Israel, Spain, Russia and even 1 in Chad”

One of the days Ken was gone, Charlie, John and I decided to take a drive to the Griffon Vulture Santuary on the Northeast side of the Island in the town of Beli. As we drove the 2 lane road with NO shoulders, my “need gas” light came on. No sweat as we know that usually that will mean about 50 miles before you run out. Thinking the only logical place to get gas would be on the North Ferry dock past Beli. Arriving there, we discovered that the only gas station was in our “home” town of Cres. So, sweating, we decide to forgo the side trip to Beli and drive back to Cres to fill-up. John was worried we would run out and not have a place to pull our little car over on the narrow road. I just assured him, “life is an adventure” and we would be fine. Of course, we got to the Petro station at the marina and all was fine. We retried our trip to Beli the next day with a full tank.

The Griffon Vulture (Condor) is unique to Otok Cres. The birds come to Cres to mate, have their babies and then migrate all the way to Spain and back in between.

To get down to the shore, we walked a road with a 17{e5b62957b3804ab7f47eece8c936dd4b822dafb6efd3f6ca02827a1c1cc3266f} grade. Certainly not looking forward to going back up, but knew that a cold beer would be waiting for us at the bottom!

The “Roosting” Clifts of the Griffon Vulture (Condor)

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