Bird migration takes off as volunteers join Raptor Camp
This week, Malta has seen a surge in bird migration just as volunteers from across Europe head to the island for two weeks to take part in BirdLife Malta’s international bird monitoring and illegal hunting surveillance camp.
In the last seven days, the influx of birds has been a treat for anyone out in the Maltese countryside. Bird watchers at Buskett have been seeing up to 300 birds of prey (raptors) daily, with high numbers of marsh harriers and honey buzzards, as well as sightings of some rare migrants in Malta, like a saker falcon seen on Monday.
It is not only raptors that can be seen in the skies over Malta during the autumn migration period, with flocks of hundreds of colourful bee-eaters, accompanied by their chirping calls, visible around the island in recent weeks.
Malta’s position on the Central European Migratory Flyway makes it an important stopover for birds heading to Africa in the autumn, having spent the summer at their breeding grounds in Europe. Many will be making the journey for the first time, having hatched earlier this year.
It is this annual spectacle of nature that has attracted 45 volunteers to join BirdLife Malta in monitoring bird migration at this year’s Raptor Camp.The camp starts on Sunday, September 16 and runs until September 30, timed to coincide with the peak period for migration of birds of prey through the Maltese Islands.
The participants include conservationists, bird-watchers, photographers and film-makers from the UK, Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Italy and Denmark, who will join Maltese volunteers and conservationists as they try to ensure the safety of the birds which come through Malta.
BirdLife Malta has already started receiving shot protected birds before the start of the camp. “Since the start of the hunting season we have received eight protected birds brought to us confirmed shot by a vet. Half of these are birds of prey, including a pallid harrier, a species classified as near-threatened on the IUCN Red List of endangered species,” said Nicholas Barbara, BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager.
BirdLife Malta encourages members of the public to report illegalities to the police. Hunting after 15.00h is illegal between September 15 and 30, a ban enacted to protect migrating birds of prey. Instructions on what information the police require and how to report it can be found at www.birdlifemalta.org.