Spring Watch 2014 – Bird-watching from Sunrise to Sunset

April 13, 2014 9:19 am
13th April 2014

Here at Spring Watch Malta as well as the local Maltese volunteers, we have people joining us from all over Europe. They’ve come bringing lots of different skills that we need including in-depth bird knowledge, camera skills and a good understanding of the Maltese countryside!

The volunteers have an intensive schedule, getting up before 5.00am to get out to watch points before the sun rises, as this is often the time birds leave their roosts to continue on their long migration. Likewise just before sunset is the perfect time watch some species; small birds such as Warblers often begin a night of migration at sunset, while others like the Marsh Harriers and Barn Swallows find a spot to rest on the island in the evening.
One of the volunteers was telling me today how she loves coming on these camps, as for 3 weeks she gets to watch the sunrise and set each day, which she is unlikely to find the time to do in her everyday life!

The teams record the daily migration of birds passing over Malta or stopping on the islands. If a large flock is spotted, the teams keep an eye on them, tracking their flight and communicating with local birdwatchers. Yesterday a flock of 40 Little egrets was seen by our team flying over Ghadira reserve, to the delight of the volunteers.
The Spring Watch teams also monitor and and deter illegal hunting. We hope their presence around the countryside helps prevent protected birds being targeted by hunters.
The volunteers also manage to find the time in their packed schedule to explore Malta, particularly the international volunteers, as for some it is their first visit to the island. This weekend some went on a guided walk around the Foresta2000 reserve, enjoying the flora and fauna it has to offer, including many Swallowtail butterflies. Today, some of the group also took a trip to Mdina, a medieval walled town, enjoying the views from the top of the hill in the centre of Malta.

Here is a time-lapse video made by one of the volunteers, showing the teams preparing to leave in the early hours!

Photos By Ella Beeson, Video by Lawrie Phipps

BirdLife Malta has been campaigning against illegal and unsustainable bird hunting on the Maltese islands for more than 50 years. If it was not for all of our work, we would not have reached the point we are at now, with the vast majority of people on Malta wanting to see spring hunting ended. Now is the time to turn that dream in to reality.
There are several ways you can help us:
  • You can help our campaign at a political level: click here to write to your MEP and ask them to support this urgent call for action to stop spring hunting in Malta.
  • Join BirdLife Malta to support our work for birds and nature in the Maltese Islands. As a member you will receive our regular members’ magazine, Bird’s Eye View, and email updates about our work. Your membership fee will help to make sure we can continue fight for birds and nature.
  • Make a donation towards our Stop Spring Hunting Campaign at http://igg.me/at/stopspringhunting  You can also help spread the word about our campaign – share this page and our video about spring hunting through Facebook and Twitter – please ask your friends and family to share and donate to our campaign if they can .#stopspringhunting
By working together we can end spring hunting on Malta forever.

The League Against Cruel Sports have been supporting Spring Watch and Raptor Camp for a number of years.  Security for this camp has been paid for by Stiftung Pro Artenvielfalt,  ensuring the safety of our volunteers.