Tim Melling – Himalayan Griffon

Tim writes: The Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis) was split from the Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) as recently as 2000 based on DNA analysis.  However, it differs markedly in appearance being much more contrastingly black and white below.  They are pretty enormous, with a wingspan that can exceed 3m, and weigh up to 12kg.  They breed only in the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, but young birds sometimes wander. 

I photographed this one at c3500m on China’s Tibetan Plateau, where they feed largely on dead Yak.  Although the sky was clear and blue, a flurry of snow was just arriving, which you can see if you look carefully.