John Thurnell-Read

October 1, 2013 2:24 pm

Jon first came to Malta in spring 2012 as a volunteer on the Spring Watch Malta camp. He hasn’t missed a camp since. Jon has also recently started a job with the RSPB working on public engagement- sharing his enthusiasm for birds, nature and conservation.

Why I come to Malta

by Jon Thurnell-read

This is my third time as a BLM volunteer and the first during autumn migration for Raptor Camp. Each visit brings a variety of emotions before, during and after. The anticipation in the weeks leading up to the camp grows with reports of incidents early in the season. The ever changing legislation and political climate often seems to be in the hunter’s favour, which leads to feeling that BML volunteers and supporters, face an uphill struggle. For example; recently the curfew has been relaxed, allowing hunters to be active in the field at a time when many raptors are roosting.Regardless of these changes and the resulting negative impact on the migration and breeding of protected birds we must persevere. I’ve found that the growth in the number of local volunteers taking an active part during this camp a sure sign that the island has a voice and the hunting situation can change for the better.

Over the last 18 months I have made countless attempts to explain to friends at home just what occurs on Malta. Tales of hundreds of gun shots before breakfast, incidents of intimidation and of injured protected birds only portray a very bleak picture, which could be seen that the situation is toxic and without hope. Many comment that they understandably could not place themselves in an environment where events like these are highly likely. I urge people to support the many successes that Birdlife Malta can claim and these need to at the forefront of the continuing positive change. An extensive environmental education program in primary schools, a number of reserves and a genuine plan for the safety of birds that pass over the stunning landscape are just some of the plus points.  

Many of us can take the open access of our countryside for granted, on returning from Malta each time I am reminded that our green spaces can be enjoyed by everyone for a range of activities and not just a small minority without any regard for the law or others.

All participants invest physically, emotionally and financially to fulfill their passion and contribute to this amazing project. But whatever an individual’s motivation for making these trips, the personal rewards and sense of satisfaction are great. I myself feel exceedingly privileged to be here, working side by side with people from across Europe who believe that the current situation in Malta has far reaching effects across the continent.

It has come to my final day with the camp and I’m proud to have contributed to the group and to the migration season.

A honey Buzzard with wing damage flies low over Buskett.

To support BirdLife Malta’s bird protection camps and other work to end illegal hunting in the Maltese Islands please Join BirdLife Malta

You can also DONATE to help us meet the ever increasing costs of the camps, including the purchasing of essential equipment for monitoring and recording illegalities like shooting at protected birds to support police prosecution of illegal hunters.

Raptor Camp 2013 is being supported by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, who have provided photo/video-scope equipment for use in BirdLife Malta activities to prevent and detect illegal hunting.