24,115 people attended this year’s EuroBirdwatch, the biggest European birdwatching event hosted by 40 national partner organisations of BirdLife International in Europe and Central Asia, including BirdLife Malta. Participating in more than 1,000 different events taking place over the past weekend, they were able to observe the stunning autumn migration, as birds make their way southwards to their wintering places.
Taking place annually on the first weekend of October since 1993, EuroBirdwatch aims to raise awareness for bird migration, promoting needed actions to save threatened bird species and their habitats. Furthermore, the event is a great way for people to observe birds with the help of local ornithologists who are familiar with the nature spectacle which is taking place year after year.
This year, 40 countries in Europe and Central Asia participated in EuroBirdwatch, hosting 1,070 events and observing 5.8 million migratory birds. Next to observing, identifying and counting the passing birds, many BirdLife partners offered a variety of activities from photo exhibitions to ornithological excursions and public bird ringings, as well as special events for children.
BirdLife Malta’s main event for EuroBirdwatch 2016 is the Migration Festival which is being held over three consecutive Saturdays coming to an end this Saturday 8 October at Għadira Nature Reserve. After the opening event on Saturday 24 September at Laferla Cross, last weekend the festival continued at Tal-Bosk Farmhouse in Buskett where families gathered to celebrate the magic of migration and observe the raptor migration from Malta’s only woodland.
Last Saturday’s event included a photography exhibit together with a presentation from a local nature photographer, a guided birdwatching walk through Buskett and several other family activities.
As millions of birds are travelling to their wintering areas in the Mediterranean and in Africa, EuroBirdwatch encouraged people of all ages to observe, enjoy and learn about migratory birds and their fantastic abilities as well as the dangers they face on their long journeys. The data collected by all national BirdLife partners were evaluated and published by the European Centre, a task taken on by a different BirdLife partner each year. This year, BirdLife Switzerland had the honour of processing the data which is accessible online at www.eurobirdwatch.eu.
The following summary can only offer a brief overview of the many spectacular observations made during EuroBirdwatch 2016:
- Huge swarms of Chaffinches and Starlings were observed in many countries, making them two of the most widely observed species during this year’s EuroBirdwatch.
- Slovakia registered the Radde’s Warbler for the first time during the EuroBirdwatch.
- In Gibraltar, the Minister for Environment & Climate Change was amongst the visitors of EuroBirdwatch events.
- LIPU, the Italian BirdLife partner, organised a competition amongst the public called the “Big Day”, where participants could compete in observing the highest number of species in a day.
- In Montenegro, pupils from local schools in Podgorica painted nesting houses for peregrine falcons which will be distributed throughout the country.
- In Poland, a great number of schools and kindergardens participated in the EuroBirdwatch.
- In Luxembourg, Minister of State Camille Gira visited the EuroBirdwatch.
- In Macedonia, representatives from the Polish, Dutch and German embassies took part.
- In Switzerland, the event was announced in the weather forecast on Swiss national TV.
- Around 40 participants attended BirdLife Malta’s event at Buskett.
- A total of 607 birds were observed.
- Raptors seen by the public included Ospreys, Honey Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawks, Eleonora’s Falcons, Hobbies, Lesser Kestrels and Kestrels.
- The three most abundant species reported were Swallows (around 400 observed) followed by Yellow Wagtails (around 60) and Spanish Sparrows (around 50).
- Other birds observed included Quail, Nightjars, Warblers (Sardinian, Cetti’s, Yellow-browed, Wood, Willow and Garden), Chiffchaffs, Tree Pipits, Sand Martins, Nightingales, Blackcaps, Robins and Redstarts.
For further information on the EuroBirdwatch visit www.eurobirdwatch.eu.