Spring Watch 2014 – Little Egrets Pursued

April 10, 2014 6:16 pm
Day 1 of Spring Watch 2014
Spring Watch 2014 began on 9th April.  Here is an account of one of our teams’ first day experience…

The team headed out to Delimara to start their afternoon shift, armed with cameras, scopes and binoculars.  As the group settled at their watch point, peering through their binoculars, reports of a flock of little egrets came in near to their location.  The group moved around the coast to get a better look at the flock of 22 birds beginning to roost by the sea below.  

Photo by Angela Gillies

As the group stood and watched over the birds, one of the team spotted out of the corner of their eye a speed boat hurtling towards the exact spot where the birds were perched.  In the boat there was an older man who was driving, a young man continuously on his mobile phone and a young woman.  The BirdLife team were invisible to the approaching boat due to their position on the rocks, but were spotted as the boat reached the egrets.  As the boat drew to a halt close by, the egrets were startled and moved off towards Marsaxlokk harbour.  The boat then left.  The egrets circled round, flew up to Birżebbuġa and came back to settle in the same spot below the team.  

Photo by Ray Galea

Only a couple of minutes later, a fishing boat approached, again coming very close to the egrets and disturbing them.  They hurled abuse in Maltese at the team, which one of our local volunteers was able to translate. And let’s just say the translation was much too rude to publish here! After this disturbance, the egrets were last seen flying back towards the harbour and heading towards north over the island to safety. 

It is believed that the people in the boats were trying to disturb the flock in an attempt to get the birds to fly inland where they could have been targeted.  It is hoped that the BirdLife team’s presence in the vicinity of these birds has prevented any possible illegal shooting from poachers. This is an example of a success story here at Spring Watch, where our team’s presence has ensured the safety of these birds. 

Here is a video of the first boat approaching the egrets.


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 into 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.