Written by Anne-Grethe Overbeck.
This is the story of one day watching for raptors and other migrating birds with Raptor Camp, Malta.
It’s about 6 o’clock in the morning, it’s still dark. We are standing in front of some new apartments, which have a very good view over the valley. The place is called Mtarfa Gardens.
The twilight before dawn is very quiet, not many birds. Then the morning light comes.
A ‘nice looking’ businessman is coming toward us, with his hunting dog.
He stops and starts speaking aggressively to us. “Why are you here? We do not have any birds here because it’s too dry. Go home, take care of your own country! It’s the Maltese people who are paying for you. We don’t want to pay for your taxis.”
He really wants to argue and doesn’t wait for answers.
Our leader, Andrew, tried to explain why we are here and that we paid for ourselves, but he wouldn’t listen. He went away with his dog. Then he came back and started the same argument again and again without waiting for answers.
We went home for breakfast, one and a half hours rest, then the team briefing and lunch.
After lunch, a new experience in a team with Bob and Judith.
|The twilight before dawn is very quiet, not many birds. Then the morning light comes. Photo by Judith Knight|
We started at the Busket, where we saw some very nice, colourful Bee-eaters. One of them was sitting on a wire for 20 minutes, and I really enjoyed that.
We saw Honey Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Yellow Wagtails and Zitting Cisticola. Then we saw Honey Buzzards very low, they went down in the valley, we heard shots, and they didn’t come up, not when we were there.
The mobile rang, “Where are you? Look for Black Kites, they’re coming your way”. We didn’t see them. We called another team and tried moving to another viewpoint.
“Go to the car – all in?”, and then we drove from place to place looking for the kites.
The other group had seen several Black Kites go down in the valley and not come up again. All were afraid that the hunters were waiting for them to come up, because the kite had gone down in a area where hunters were shooting.
All were watching the valley from different places. It was quite exciting and our leader was in high gear.
|It was beginning to get dark and the leaders of the groups decided to stay at the valley the whole night, to show the hunters that we were taking care of the Black Kites. Photo by Laragh Smyth|
It was beginning to get dark and the leaders of the groups decided to stay at the valley the whole night, to show the hunters that we were taking care of the Black Kites. So don’t dare shooting!!!
Bob drove us home, he got some dinner and then he drove back to valley again.
They stayed there until 4 o’clockin the morning, and new people from Birdlife came and relieved the night-watchers.
All night, no hunters, no shooting!! The Black Kites were safe.