With the support of NGOs like FAPAS, the National Fund for the Protection of Wild Animals (www.fapas.es) and eight volunteers, Park Ranger Alvar Segui and his son were able to look after injured birds brought to the Sierra Mariola staring a programme to reintroduce Griffon Vultures to the park and Alicante Province.
Injured vultures were brought to Alcoy from wildlife recovery centres around the country where they were treated and released in an old quarry that also served as a feeding station for the birds.
Once safely released into their new habit, the birds flourished, producing with all the birds born in Alcoy remaining in the area.
Griffon vultures have a life expectancy of around 40 years, pairing up during the winter to produce a single egg. Once their offspring are born, they remain in the nest for 3 or 4 months before flying off on their own. An adult Griffon Vulture is the largest bird found in Spain and has a wingspan of 2.60 meters.
From head to tail the bird is a metre long and weighs between 6 and 8 pounds. Griffon Vultures are very social birds living in groups doing everything together, including mating for life.
The City of Alcoy has taken a special interest in their colony of Vultures as have local schools whose children share in their well-being.
To visit the vulture feeding site, you need to take the Banyeres road out of Alcoy, past the Alcoyano football ground, then branch off right on the CV796, the Carretera de Preventori. When you come to a junction, fork left and drive on until, when you start to go uphill into the woods, you will find a chained track up to the right. A stiff uphill walk will take you to the ‘hacking’ site and the feeding station.
To visit the cliffs where they breed, take the other, right-hand fork, continuing on the Carretera de Preventori, down past a Sanatorium, and stop at the ‘S’ bends. From there you can walk up the gorge where the vultures nest and stand a good chance of other birds, like Blue Rock Thrush and Raven.