It feels good to be back in the month of September! No, it’s not because it’s my birthday month, but because it is the month when the autumn migration is in full swing – with thousands of birds passing through Malta on their way to Africa to winter. Oh…the beauty of seeing birds of prey soaring, occasionally hunting, and also roosting around the Maltese Islands! Yes, it’s a sight that I spend all year waiting for and then when it’s time, it passes so quickly!
Have you ever seen birds of prey in Malta? Did you know that due to its high altitude Buskett offers the best place to birdwatch birds of prey? It’s not a rare sight that birdwatchers get the opportunity to see beautiful Honey Buzzards (Kuċċarda) diving into a Carob Tree in Buskett to roost. Or watch a flock of Marsh Harriers (Bagħdan Aħmar) and Black Kites (Astun Iswed) soaring over the area of Laferla Cross; and individual Ospreys (Arpa) wandering around the Maltese Islands. However, not all of birds of prey come at a large size, as often we would have beautiful Hobbies (Seqer tal-Ħannieqa), Peregrine Falcons (Bies) and Eleonora’s Falcons (Bies tar-Reġina) gracing our skies and showing off their hunting skills at eye level.
But the autumn migration is not limited to birds of prey (sorry if I gave that impression!), but we get other very beautiful species such as Hoopoes (Daqquqa tat-Toppu), Cuckoos (Daqquqa Kaħla), and Bee-eaters (Qerd in-Naħal). Did I mention the unmistakable call of the Bee-eaters? Normally, we would first hear them before we actually get to see them, which always provokes us to search for them – despite they’re so colourful and noisy, it’s still a challenge! It’s such a beautiful sight that one would have to experience it to appreciate it best – so why don’t you come and join us during the Migration Festival weekend?
In order to celebrate the bird migration (particularly the raptor migration), we at BirdLife Malta are organising the annual Migration Festival on September 30 and October 1 as part of EuroBirdwatch17 – where attendees will have the opportunity to witness the bird migration, have the opportunity to ask us questions and also…help us spot birds! More information can be found here and here.
By Sean Bonello, BirdLife Malta volunteer and active birdwatcher