Copyright © 2019 by Ali Bernie Buga-ay, all rights reserved. Himalayan Griffon Vulture: this photograph may not be used without permission.

The Himalayan Griffon Vulture or Gyps himalayensis is also called the Himalayan Vulture is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae. Related to the European griffon vulture (G. fulvus); a species found along the Himalayas and the adjoining Tibetan Plateau. It is one of the two largest Old World vultures and true raptors.

The wingspan is just so massive, fantastic display as they soar way up high using the high wind, they barely flapped their wings; as if they defied gravity and turbulence, flying with stretched wings without spending so much energy.

Booking a flight to Phuket was not in our plans last January, we wanted to see the Pied Avocets and the Black-faced Spoonbill and the rest of the rarities right there. We balanced the our decisions basing on the Conservation Statuses of the species and then the flight was booked. I spent three days in Phuket driving a motorcycle everyday to save and it was also very wise to use in chasing the raptors at Chalong. I needed an open situation in which I can see everything since I ddn’t have Arpha Vida Buga-ay to help me spot whatever. Driving to the location was not quite a chore for me at first and then I got used to it and I also figured out the roads and streets of Phuket.

Everybody wants to go there for the beach, fun, parties, shows, island fun and comfort; I was there for a carrion eater of a massive bird from Himalayas. I found them on the first day on top of the ridge of a small mountain as they were using the thermals to make them stay up high. The second day was also exciting as I found them flying over a mountain side and lucky there was a road going up, so I drove fast and I was able to see four of them. On third day, I was frustrated as I was expecting them to fly lower and I can’t seem to find them anymore, I followed the road going to the elephant trail as instructed to me by Khun Rat Punarak, which I was also there the day before; I saw them being chased by another raptor. I decided to be proactive and really exert more effort in finding them close. I was reward with some fantastic shots and I am so happy that I don’t have to go to Cambodia for this and the Himalayas. Driving with a motorcycle up to the location every morning at 4:00 am was a bit of a stress to me and going back to the city was more stressful as the traffic was scary to navigate around. I had to check my mobile phone for the GPS every now and then to go back to my hotel and I survived everything just like being in the jungles of Thailand not knowing if a Tiger, Elephant, or a venomous snake it around.

Thanks a lot Khun Songrit Srirattana for all the detailed instructions and for picking up all my calls. Thanks Ajarn Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua for confirming the presence of this Majestic flyer of a carrion eater.Thanks a lot Khun Rat Punarak for giving me instructions and talking to me on the phone na krub. Finally, without the support of Arpha Vida Buga-ay I would not be able to do this, thanks a lot for everything.

Phuket, Thailand
February 2, 2019
Nikon D500 + Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
Fotopro E9| Fotopro LH-10A 
Carry Speed FS-Pro
Nitecore UNK1 | Toshiba FlashAir 64GB

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