Spring Watch 2014 – Flying Swiftly to Malta

April 11, 2014 3:22 pm
11th April 2014

By Elles Bertholee and Holly Forsyth

This morning I sat down with one of the volunteers who has joined us for Spring Watch this year.  Here is Elles Bertholee’s experience so far…

Elles has joined us from Holland, where she is a member of Vogelbescherming Nederland, the Dutch partner of BirdLife International. She has been interested in birds her whole life, and so when she heard about the Spring Watch camp though Vogelbescherming Nederland, she jumped at the opportunity to help protect birds in Malta. 

For the last 7.5 years, Elles has volunteered at Stichting DierenZorg Eemland, an emergency bird care hospital in Soest, Holland.  She is one of 25 volunteers there and during the course of a year they receive up to 3000 birds at the hospital.  Elles herself specialises in the rearing of Swifts, and during 2013 she took care of 19 Swifts, 15 of which she was able to release back into the wild. 
This is Elles’ first time in Malta and she is here only for the birds.  She commented: “BirdLife Maltais keeping birds alive here and I want to help”.  I asked her about her first impressions of the Spring Watch so far.  She replied: “The camp is well organised, full of nice, helpful people, and I feel taken care of.”  Elles has also been using the time spent out at various watch points as an opportunity to see the island. 

Yesterday, Elles and her team were out in the field, and they saw 9 Marsh Harriers all flying together.  She said: “They are a special bird, and we don’t see many of them in Holland”.  But the highlight for her so far was seeing her first Swift in Malta.  Down in Dingli, Elles watched the swift flying above her head, saying it “made her day”. 

Elles will be with us at the Spring Watch camp until Friday 18th April.  Her focus during this time is entirely the birds, she is here to do whatever she can to help protect them. 


Further information about the bird care hospital where Elles volunteers can be found on their website: http://www.dierenzorgeemland.nl/

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.