Spring Watch

 Spring Watch

 

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.

Keep reading to find out what happened this year.

 

Day 1 - Sunday 15th April 

Afternoon

  • Our team in Gharghur heard shots and saw 1 hunter. The police were called and the hunter was apprehended and found with 1 dead Quail. Hunting on a Sunday is illegal.
  • Shots were also heard at San Niklaw.

Spring Watch team monitoring bird migration and illegal hunting. Photograph by Sonia Dhanda.

 For a summary of what's legal and what's not during the hunting season, read here.

 

 Day 2 - Monday 16th April

Morning

  • Lots of shots heard in the north of the island with a good passage of Turtle Doves.
  • Shots were fired at a Marsh Harrier and Kestrel at Dwejra.
  • Hunters observed without visible armbands.

Afternoon

  • Hunting after 3pm in Gozo and shots after hours in Malta.
  • Good Swift passage at several locations.
  • Kestrel shot and injured in Selmun.
  • Three illegally shot migrating birds: two Cuckoos and a Golden Oriole confirmed as having been illegally shot.

Golden Oriole, gunshot injury confirmed as cause of death. Photo by BirdLife Malta.

Golden Oriole, gunshot injury confirmed as cause of death. Photograph by Nicholas Barbara.

 Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

Day 3 - Tuesday 17th April

Morning

  • Heavy shooting in the south of the island. Lead shot rained down on team when a hunter fired towards the road.
  • Marsh Harrier shot down in Handaq.
  • Migration generally poor, but Purple Herons and Great White Egrets seen in south of the island and migration of hirundines (Swifts, Swallows and their kin) observed.

Afternoon

  • Illegal shots heard in all locations monitored.
  • Small numbers of birds of prey.
  • Another illegally shot bird confirmed, this time a Common Kestrel.

 

Common Kestrel with multiples fractures on its left wing and pellets found in its body. Bird had to be euthanised. Photo by BirdLife Malta.

Common Kestrel, had multiple fractures and pellets in its left wing. Photograph by Nicholas Barbara.

 Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

Day 4 - Wednesday 18th April

 Morning

  • Following yesterday's poor migration our team at Siggiewi witnessed 3 shots being fired at a Cuckoo and a Black Kite was observed leaving its roost.
  • Some instances of modified shotguns (holding more the 3 cartridges) being used.

Afternoon

  • Birds of prey coming in from the east: Marsh Harriers seen close to the airport; Hobbies, Kestrels, Montague's Harriers and an Eleonora's Falcon near the Victoria Lines.
Hobby

Hobby flying past team at the Victoria Lines. Photograph by Joe Cockram.

  • Migration still slow.

 Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now! 

 

 Day 5 - Thursday 19th April

Morning

  • Shots fired at a Golden Oriole in Mizieb.
  • Ghallis Tower team falsely reported to police for trespassing on private property.
  • Hunters observed without visible armbands.
  • Some of the birds spotted today included a Grasshopper Warbler, Sand Martins, Short-toed Lark, Pied Flycatcher and Nightingales. 

 Afternoon

  • Marsh Harriers, 3 Montague's Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon, flocks of Bee-eaters and a flock of 13 Night Herons were seen migrating.
  • Illegal shots were heard at Nadur Tower.
  • Shots were also heard as Has-Saptan. 

A migrating European Bee-eater in flight. Photograph by Neil Wright.

Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

 Day 6 - Friday 20th April

 Morning

  • Shots fired at a Barn Swallow in Gharghur. 
  • Grey Heron with dangling leg flying out of Salina.
  • Shots fired at a Peregrine Falcon in Delimara.
  • Numerous hunters seen not wearing armbands and putting them on near police prescence.

Afternoon

  • Increase in Harrier migration with roosts of up to 10 birds.
  • Flocks of Bee-eaters observed. 
  • Illegal shots fired after permitted hoursat Delimara, San Niklaw, Benghajsa and Red Tower.
  • Three illegally shot migrating birds recovered: a Marsh Harrier, Hoopoe and Bee-eater.

European Bee-eater suffered gunshot injury. Photograph by Sonia Dhanda.

 Shot birds of 2012 gallery

 

Day 7 - Saturday 21st April

Morning

  • Harriers seen with feather damage as leaving roosts in various locations.
  • Marsh Harriers leaving roost at Qadi were cheered by hunters, as our team watched over.
  • In Bahrija, 2 hunters were apprehended, 1 of which was found with a modified shotgun.
  • At Selmun, hunter was seen shooting and killing 4 Quails, over the daily bag limit of 2 birds. Hunter fled scene on ALE's arrival.
  • An Osprey perching in a tree in Delimara was shot at 4 times, as the bird flew out of sight from the team, 20 shots were heard, the Osprey was not seen again.   

Marsh Harrier in flight with damaged feathers - the result of shotgun fire. Photographs by Neil Wright. 

Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

Afternoon 

  • Illegal shots fired outside permitted hunting hours heard from Red Tower.
  • An injured Marsh Harrier was seen at Has-Saptan.
  • An injured Swift was seen at Delimara.
  • A few of the birds seen migrating included a flock of 30 Barn Swallows, Hobbies, Montague's Harriers, Marsh Harriers, flocks of Swifts, Little Egret, Tree Pipit and Whinchat. 

Common Swift in flight. Swifts migrate through Malta every spring on the way from Africa to their European breeding grounds. Photograph by Joe Cockram.

 

Day 8 - Sunday 22nd April

 Morning

  • 13 Marsh Harriers were seen leaving a roost at Qadi.
  • Illegal shots were heard from all 9 team locations with Turtle Dove migration evident.

Afternoon

  • A few of the birds spotted included a Honey Buzzard, Golden Orioles, Kestrel, Cetti's Warbler, flocks of Bee-eaters, Swifts and Barn Swallows.
  • An injured Eleonora's Falcon was seen flying in Mellieha.
  • At Red Tower a hunter with a shotgun was reported to the ALE and is being questioned.
  • Illegally shot bird recovered: Common Swift.

Common Swift with wing injuries caused by gunshot. Photograph by Paulo Lago Barreiro.  

Hunting is not permitted on a Sunday. Read about hunting prohibitions this season here.

 

Day 9 - Monday 23rd April

Morning

  • Several hunters were seen without armbands in various locations.
  • The ALE booked a hunter without an armband after a team reported it was a repeater shotgun.
  • The use of electonic Quail lures was evident in certain areas.
  • An injured Barn Swallow was seen in Bidnija.
  • Birds seen migrating included, Nightjar, Bee-eaters, Spotted Flycatcher, Golden Orioles, Nightingales and Whinchats. 

An increase in Golden Oriole passage has been observed. Photograph by Cally Higginbottom. 

Afternoon

  • Shots were heard from Mtarfa and Mosta.
  • Flocks of Bee-eaters were seen around the island.

Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

Day 10 - Tuesday 24th April 

Morning

  • Teams observed Marsh Harriers leaving roosts at different locations.
  • 6 out of 8 teams witnessed hunters without armbands at their locations.
  • A Marsh Harrier was shot at in Benghajsa.
  • One Osprey was seen entering at the south of the island and flying safely out from the north. In contrast, to the Osprey spotted by the team on the 21st April when shots were fired at it in Delimara.    

Migrating Osprey spotted flying all the way across Malta. Photograph by Charles Gauci.

Afternoon

  • Shots outside the hunting areas were heard from San Niklaw, Delimara, Gharghur and in Gozo.
  • Migratory birds included: Common Kestrel, Pallid Swifts, Honey Buzzard and Yellow Wagtails.

Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

 Day 11 - Wednesday 25th April

Morning

  • Shots were fired at a Honey Buzzard in Mizieb.
  • A male Marsh Harrier was observed with an injured leg in Zurrieq. 
  • Many hunters were not wearing armbands. 

Marsh Harrier with injured leg seen from Zurrieq. Photograph by Cally Higginbottom.

Afternoon

  • Illegally shot bird recovered: House Martin.

House Martin with shotgun injury, left wing had an open fracture. Photograph by Rupert Masefield. 

Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

Day 12 - Thursday 26th April

 Morning

  • High intensity of shots heard with good Turtle Dove passage.
  • Migratory birds spotted: European Roller, Willow Warbler, Golden Orioles, Pied Flycatcher and Sand Martins.  
  • A Marsh Harrier with a damaged right wing was seen over Girgenti. Similar to an injured Marsh Harrier seen the previous day.

Marsh Harrier with a damaged right wing. One of many injured birds seen flying around Malta. Photograph by Cally Higginbottom.

 Afternoon

  • Shots heard at 3 locations and two men with shotguns seen at Tal-Virtu outside hunting hours. 

Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

Day 13 - Friday 27th April

Morning

  • Good Turtle Dove passage with heavy shooting in northern parts of Malta.
  • Hunters seen with no armbands in 3 locations.
  • Shots fired at Golden Orioles at Mtahleb and Selmun, while good passage of Golden Orioles observed in the north-east of Malta.

Afternoon

  • Peregrine Falcons, Red-Footed Falcon and Eleonora's Falcon, Whinchats, Woodchat Shrikes, Wheatear were some of the birds spotted.
  • Shots were heard outside hunting hours.
  • A gunshot injured Bee-eater was recovered. 

European Bee-eater with an injured right wing caused from a shotgun injury. Photograph by Paulo Lago Barreiro. 

Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

 Day 14 - Saturday 28th April

Morning

  • Heavy number of shots heard with turtle dove passage evident.  
  • Hunters seen without armbands. 

Afternoon

  • Illegally shot protected Marsh Harrier. The 12th shot bird recovered during the Spring Hunting season.

Marsh Harrier with damaged left wing caused by a gunshot injury. Photograph by Cally Higginbottom.  

Have you witnessed an illegality? Act Now!

 

Day 15 - Sunday 29th April

Morning

  • Hobbies, flocks of Bee-eaters, Common Kestrels and Whinchats were a few of the birds seen.
  • A hunter was apprehended in Mtarfa for hunting outside the permitted hours and was questioned.
  • Similarly, a hunter was apprehended in Manikata and was questioned.  

Afternoon

  • Shots were heard outside hunting hours.
  • Common Sandpipers, Swifts, Lesser Kestrels and Red-Footed Falcon were seen. 
  • One Lesser Kestrel was shot at.

Red-Footed Falcon seen by the teams over two days. Photograph by Sonia Dhanda. 

Day 16 - Monday 30th April

Morning

  • Heavy shooting in Has-Saptan area with Turtle Dove migration evident.
  • Hunters seen without armbands.
  • Shots were fired at Golden Orioles and a Cuckoo. 
  • Birds spotted included: Little Egrets, Swifts, Marsh Harrier and Golden Orioles.

Little Egrets were seen in two team locations. Photograph by Aron Tanti. 

 

End of Camp.

 

 


 
 
Last Updated on Monday, 20 January 2014, 5:21:37 PM
 
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