Spring Watch Malta 2013 #6: Daily catch-up!

April 26, 2013 11:06 am

Friday 19th April, Henry Soyer

Continuing the theme of the previous post, today we’re speaking (actually listening) to another camp volunteer, Henry Soyer, talk about his experience during Spring Watch. This is Henry’s first time at Spring Watch and his first trip to Malta. This is what he had to say:
Henry: “I came here pretty clean [with few preconceptions], but the clear objective of course was bird protection.
I have learned a lot: about how BirdLife Malta monitors migration and why counting the number of shots is so important- to compare with the number of birds the hunters declare they have shot. It seems crazy to me that the government and the European Commission just takes these figures at face value. BirdLife Malta are the only ones trying to verify if what the hunters report is accurate- and it isn’t!
“The birding highlight of my trip was seeing a Golden Oriole for the first time, and so close. It was on the ground in the grass and we could just see its bright yellow head turn from side to side. We watched it for five minutes like this.
“I also saw Montagu’s Harriers and there are only 9 breeding pairs of these birds in Holland. To think that some hunters in Malta shoot them is tragic. For many people it seems that spring hunting is just an excuse to shoot species other than Turtle Dove and Quail. Now I understand why it is such a big problem.
A dead male Golden Oriole found by a member of public in Luqa last week. Golden Orioles are frequently targeted by illegal hunters. Their slow undulating flight and outstanding bright colour make them easy targets.
“We [international volunteers] are here to support Maltese conservationists in their initiative to protect migrating birds which come to Europe to breed. Sometimes it is not this way, but in this case the campaign, the strategy and the driving force behind it is Maltese, which is very important.
“I don’t think things in Malta need to change that much because I think the majority of Maltese people are against [spring hunting].
“For me, if you accept spring hunting, you are accepting illegal hunting.”