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.
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