Spring Watch 2012



Spring Watch Malta 2012

April 15th – April 30th


Read the Spring Watch daily updates here! 

Thank you for your interest in Spring Watch 2012. Due to the high number of early bookings for this year's Spring Watch the camp is now full so we regret that we are unable to accommodate any new volunteers. Raptor Camp will be back in autumn 2012 and we hope that you will join us then.

Every year our Spring Watch and Raptor Camp initiatives rely on volunteers from Malta, Europe and around the world, and the continuing support by our members and partner organisations for our campaigns against illegal hunting and trapping is vital to their success.

What is Spring Watch Malta about?

Spring Watch Malta is a conservation camp which forms an integral part of BirdLife Malta’s fight against illegal spring hunting. This camp is organised during the peak spring migration period in Malta and thus the period with the highest expected hunting intensity. 

BirdLife Malta organises two such camps each year – one in autumn called Raptor Camp and the other in Spring called Spring Watch.

When is Spring Watch 12 going to be held?

April 15th to April 30th, 2012

Why is Spring Watch 2012 Important?

Spring is almost upon us, and once again birds returning to breed in Europe passing over Malta will risk persecution from illegal hunters and trappers.

The European Court of Justice found Malta guilty for opening a spring hunting season in 2004,5,6,7. The government did not open a season in 2008,9 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, opened a week long spring hunting season and adopted legislation permitting longer future seasons with higher bag counts.

The Commission renewed legal action against Malta over this legislation, however Malta’s Prime Minister stated that Malta is “prepared to go all the way” on spring hunting. The goverment proceeded to open a two week hunting season in 2010 for which 5,462 hunters applied for a licence and were allowed to kill 9000 Turtle Dove and 2,500 Quail. Spring Watch teams uncovered widespread illegalities during this period including the shooting of protected birds, and a gross misreporting by hunters of the amount of turtle dove and quail shot, as a result of poor enforcement from the authorities at strictly supervising a spring hunting derogation.


With action from the European Commission still awaited over the spring hunting season in 2010, current legislation still allows for another spring hunting season in April 2012. If this is the case, then volunteers will be needed to demonstrate the impact of another spring 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 migratory species.

Spring Watch 2012 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.

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.

Is this an International effort?

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. The presence of international volunteers helping out in these camps raises awareness amongst the locals who are increasingly more supportive of bird conservation issues.

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 the criminals are apprehended. 

Should the Commission’s legal action result in no spring hunting season, the scope of the camp will consist of monitoring the countryside to record any illegal hunting activity taking place. This will involve using both static and active observation posts to look for hunters in the countryside, reporting any illegal activity to the police authorities, recording evidence using hand-held video and still cameras, and keeping illegal hunters under observation until the police arrive at the scene. 

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 main Spring Watch Malta objectives, 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 organized for the participants. 

What skills do you need to join Spring Watch Malta?

All one really needs is enthusiasm and motivation to fight against illegal hunting. However, a number of volunteers are required to have good bird identification skills to accurately identify bird species and record data on migration. 

Please note that English is the working language of this camp and all presentations and summaries will therefore be carried out in English.

What about accommodation, food and transport while in Malta?

BirdLife Malta organizes group accommodation in a hotel. This hotel also acts as the base of all activities during the camp. Standard accommodation in the form of three or four 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 is a 4-star complex and boasts 2 swimming pools (both inside and out), 2 bars, a mini-shop, free wi-fi access in public areas, a games room, room terrace, Jacuzzi, sauna, small gym, spa treatments and nightly entertainment.  Each room has a balcony, TV, hair dryer, mini fridge and safe. 

Accommodation, food and transport (during camp activities) will be organized for the group.  

How long does the camp last?

The camp starts on Monday 16th April and ends on Monday 30th April. Volunteers may come for one or two weeks, depending on their availability and the flight schedule. It is advisable that attendees for the first week of the camp arrive on Saturday 14th or Sunday 15th as this will help with the logistical planning of the camp.

The cost per person per night is estimated at €25-30. We will soon announce the prices for this year, which should not differ greatly.

This includes:

-Shared accommodation in the hotel (three/four persons in one room);

- Continental and English breakfast;

- Cooked buffet lunch;

- Cooked buffet dinner;

- Water during meals;

- All transport during camp activities. 

Not included in the above cost:

- other drinks (during and after meals);

- activities which are not essential to the camp’s operation;

- anything else not mentioned above. 

Airport transfers will be organised for you. The cost of the airport transfer is approximately EURO 25 per transfer. 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. 

For those wishing single rooms – please contact springwatch@birdlifemalta.org for cost. 

How do I book?

There are three stages to book. The first stage is to get in touch with us at springwatch@birdlifemalta.org. Next you will fill in and email a booking form which we will send you. After this, the third and final stage is that you will be required to pay a deposit of 50% of your stay direct to the hotel to confirm your booking.  The remainder of the hotel payment will be due on arrival at the hotel. 

What weather should I expect?

Weather in Malta is typically Mediterranean, with hot summers and mild winters. By the end of March and beginning April the weather starts improving. Historically, April has had a highest ever recorded temperature of 29.4 Celsius and lowest ever of 6.5 Celsius. On average, the temperature ranges from 20 Celsius during the day to 13 Celsius during the night. It is probable that on some of the days it will rain, so please bring raincoats and layers with you, as well as sun screen and hats. 

Further information

For more information or to make bookings simply send an e-mail to springwatch@birdlifemalta.org outlining any information you require.

If you'd like to see more BirdLife Malta videos check out our YouTube channel. You can also join the BirdLife Malta Facebook community here or follow us on Twitter here

This camp is made possible with the generous support of our partners the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Vogelbescherming Nederland, and the Sveriges Ornitologiska Forening.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012, 1:14:36 PM