SPRING WATCH 2013: 14th – 30th April
Join Spring Watch Malta
Help us monitor bird migration and prevent illegal hunting
Get in touch to find out more firstname.lastname@example.org (00356)21347644/5/6
Visit the BirdLife Malta blog to read the daily updates from the camp
If you'd like to see BirdLife Malta videos check out our YouTube channel. You can also join the BirdLife Malta Facebook community
What is Spring Watch Malta?
Spring Watch Malta is a conservation camp which forms an integral part of BirdLife Malta’s fight against illegal hunting. This camp is organised during the peak spring migration period in Malta and during the time a spring hunting season may be allowed by the Maltese Government. Despite being banned by the Birds Directive, poorly enforced spring hunting seasons for Turtle Dove and Quail have been allowed in Malta with increasing intensity since 2010, resulting in the widespread killing of other protected species.
Spring Watch is one of two camps organized by BirdLife Malta, with another camp organized in autumn called Raptor Camp.
Why is Spring Watch 2013 Important?
The European Court of Justice found Malta guilty for opening spring hunting seasons in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. The government did not open a season in 2008 or 2009, while the case was ongoing, and they turned out to be two fantastic years for Malta’s breeding birds. However following the ruling in September 2009, Malta ignored the guilty verdict, and opened a week long spring hunting season in 2010.
As a result, the Commission renewed legal action against Malta, however the Maltese government kept to its promises of opening spring hunting seasons and amended legislation which has allowed spring hunting seasons in 2010, 2011 and 2012. These spring hunting seasons were characterised by widespread illegal hunting and a lack of observance of rules such as bag limits for catching Turtle Dove and Quail during the season.
Despite scientific evidence pointing at declining European populations of Turtle Dove and Quail, current legislation still allows for the opening of a spring hunting season in 2013, a practice which will peril further populations of Turtle Dove and Quail seeking their return to Europe to breed.
Monitoring of the spring hunting season through activities such as Spring Watch, has allowed BirdLife Malta to report the reality of spring hunting seasons to the attention of the Commission, which over the years have resulted nothing more than in an uncontrolled and unsustainable killing spree of migrating Turtle Dove and Quail, and the inevitable targeting of a multitude of protected species, also uncontrolled due to inadequate enforcement.
With the likelihood of another spring hunting season in 2013, Spring Watch Malta will need to demonstrate the impact of this hunting season by recording the extent of hunting in spring, while at the same time deterring illegal hunters from targeting protected species. It is vital that BirdLife Malta maintains a strong presence in the countryside to deter illegal hunters from breaking the law, as well as record data on the intensity of hunting and migratory species.
Spring Watch 2013 will be crucial in the protection of a wide range of migratory species (including birds of prey, herons, bee-eaters, golden orioles etc.) which use Malta as a critical resting and feeding stop-over on their way back to European breeding grounds. The impact of illegal hunting in countries along the main migratory flyways is an international issue that affects birds breeding in Europe and wintering in Africa. A bird shot illegally in Malta or anywhere else is therefore not just a crime affecting that country, but one that is of European and African concern. Birds found in Malta have been linked to 36 European and 12 African countries.
What does the Spring Watch Malta camp consist of?
If a spring hunting season is opened, the work of the camp will focus on recording the impact of intensive hunting on migrating Turtle Dove and Quail to demonstrate the negative impact of these activities. The camp will also record the illegal hunting of protected species and liaise with police to make sure criminals are apprehended.
If there is no spring hunting season, the scope of the camp will consist of monitoring the countryside to record any illegal hunting activity taking place as well as monitor bird migration. This will involve using both static and active observation posts, recording evidence using hand-held video and still cameras of any illegal activities, and reporting to police authorities.
Camp activities are carried out every day during the morning and afternoon. As well as monitoring migration of Turtle Dove and Quail, participants will also record migration of a range of other migratory species, including raptors, herons, bee-eaters, orioles and hirundines.
When not working on the camp, participants are free to choose from a variety of planned and non-planned activities. These include both birding-related activities (such as birdwatching trips to local nature reserves) and other leisure activities such as cultural visits to historic sites, and other social activities. Participation in some of these activities may include an extra cost. In the evening there will be workshops, discussions and films organised for the participants.
What skills do you need to join Spring Watch Malta?
English is the working language of the camp and all presentations and summaries will therefore be carried out in English.
We welcome all enthusiastic conservationists to join us, however a number of volunteers are required to have good bird identification skills to accurately identify bird species and record data on migration. For those without identification skills, a crash course in bird ID skills will be provided twice during the duration of the camp. Photo and video skills will be considered an asset.
What about accommodation, food and transport while in Malta?
BirdLife Malta organises group accommodation at a hotel (full board). This hotel also acts as the base of all activities during the camp. Standard accommodation in the form of three persons sharing a room with a bathroom will be provided. Should anyone wish to have a single room an extra charge will apply.
The hotel has an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, a bar, free wi-fi and it is within walking distance to a few bars and the rocky coastline. Each room has a T.V, air conditioning (centralised) and radio.
How long does the camp last?
The camp starts on Sunday 14th April and lasts for 2 weeks ending on Tuesday 30th April 2013. Volunteers may come for one or two weeks, depending on their availability and the flight schedule.
What’s in it for you?
This is an excellent chance to make a genuine contribution to wildlife conservation and experience life in another country. You will be given the opportunity to get involved in serious conservation work and, more importantly, play a part in stopping illegal hunting of wild birds.
How much does the camp cost?
The cost per person per night is under 30 Euro. This includes:
- Shared accommodation in the hotel (three persons in one room);
- Cooked buffet breakfast;
- Cooked buffet lunch;
- Cooked buffet dinner;
- Water during meals, wine at dinner;
- All transport during camp activities.
Not included in the above cost:
- Other drinks (during and after meals);
- Optional excursions that may require money for transport;
- Anything else not mentioned above.
Airport transfers can be organised for you. We will help to organise shared airport transfers when people arrive or depart on the same flights, therefore the cost of the taxi will be shared if this occurs.
How do I book?
Firstly, get in touch with BirdLife Malta at email@example.com. Next we will provide a booking form that you fill in and return by e-mail. The third and final stage is confirmation from the hotel.
For more information or to make bookings simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org outlining any information you require.
Want to find out what other camps were like? Try visiting our Spring Watch 2012 daily updates page here.
If you'd like to see BirdLife Malta videos check out our YouTube channel. You can also join the BirdLife Malta Facebook community here.