Spring Watch Malta 2013 #5: Daily catch-up!

April 26, 2013 9:39 am

Spring Watch Malta 2013: Daily catch-up!

Message in a bottleneck:

Okay, it’s been an intense 6 days- as you can see from our press releases on the website here. Anyway, things being what they are, I let the blog lapse. But now, I’ve finally found a moment to escape up to my room and getting back to blogging. Needless to say, the news in the press only tells a small part of what has been happening at the camps and the idea of these updates is to give people a bit more od an idea what we are actually doing out here and why. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to start talking to the volunteers who are actually the ones doing most of the real work during the camp so that I can share some of their personal experiences with you, using their words. Please keep reading…

Thursday 18th April, Marianne Leenders

Marianne: “We heard more than 2,000 shots where we were. They were coming so fast they We only saw 12 Turtle Doves, all of them flying for their lives. That’s insane. There’s no chance for the birds coming through. Thank goodness there were no raptors around.

We only saw 12 Turtle Doves, all of them flying for their lives. That’s insane. There’s no chance for the birds coming through. Photo by David Tipling

“This was very emotionally upsetting for me. There were Turtle Doves in cages everywhere and I was deafened by the sound of electronic Quail lures, but we didn’t see a glimpse of a police car. Not on the way there. Not on the way back. Nothing. You would expect to see something- some police.

You can go there on another day, when there is no hunting, and it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the island. Maybe that’s why this morning was so upsetting. There should be signs in the air telling the birds not to come here.

With more than 9,500 licensed hunters this spring, if each hunter shoots his season quota of birds, the total season quota would be exceeded by 22,000. Photo by David Tipling, courtesy of the Nature Picture Library

Spring is such an important time for birds and they have enough obstacles to overcome on their migration to Europe without facing been shot out of the sky when they pass through Malta.”

Marianne has been coming to Malta to help with Spring Watch and Raptor Camps since 2010, and has seen more than her fair share of protected birds being illegal shot by poachers, but on this morning’s shift she experienced spring hunting of an intensity she had never before seen or even thought possible.
On the morning of Thursday 18th April, Spring Watch teams recorded more than 9,000 shots across 8 locations around Malta, as there was a good passage of Turtle Doves seen across the island and dozens of birds were seen shot down. But it wasn’t just Turtle Doves being targeted. Teams also saw Golden Orioles, Kestrels and other protected birds being shot at by hunters for whom shooting legal quarry isn’t enough. That afternoon the injured birds started to come in- both ‘legal’ and protected species.

A Turtle Dove found by a member of public with a gaping hole in its breast. Snails had crawled inside. The bird was still alive when it was taken to the vet by BirdLife Malta staff. Photo by David Tipling

The Nature Picture Library donate a percentage of its sales each quarter to a conservation project that is making a difference and for Spring 2013 we are delighted that they are supporting BirdLife Malta’s vital work in monitoring and documenting illegal spring hunting in Malta and enforcing bird protection laws.

Web : www.naturepl.com
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