Maltese criminals kill rare birds

This video is called Birds of Israel – Pallid Harrier.

From Wildlife Extra:

Pallid Harriers amongst rare birds shot in Malta

International volunteers arrive for spring conservation camp as spring hunting derogation claims first victims

April 2013. BirdLife Malta has recovered a Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus), one of Europe’s most threatened birds of prey, which was found with shotgun wounds by a member of the public in Gozo.

This is the second Pallid Harrier known to have been shot in the Maltese Islands in little more than half a year. In September last year, a juvenile male was recovered, again in Gozo. The young bird, making only its third journey between Europe and Africa, which was not seriously injured, was sent to the Centro Recupero Fauna Selvatica, a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Sicily. There are estimated to be as few as 310 breeding pairs of Pallid Harriers left in Europe, where it is undergoing steep population decline since the 1970s.

“When you consider the small numbers of the bird left in Europe, the impact of having even two individuals shot on their migration could be catastrophic.”

Other protected birds that have been shot in the first few days include a European Bee-eater, a kestrel and a Common Cuckoo.

Conservation camp

Spring Watch, BirdLife Malta’s annual spring conservation camp has got underway with 40 international volunteers joining local conservationists to help monitor spring bird migration, and deter and report illegal hunting during Malta’s spring hunting derogation period. The camp starts on the 4th day of the season and participants will operate in teams at locations around Malta and Gozo until the end of the season on the 30th April.

“The hunting season opened a full two days earlier this year and Spring Watch volunteers have been sorely missed in these first days,” said Christian Debono, BirdLife Malta‘s Conservation and Policy Officer.

9,500 hunters licensed

This year 9,500 hunters are licensed to shoot Turtle Doves and Quail between 10th and 30th April- an increase of more than 3,000 licenses over last year, following the waiver of the 50 Euro spring hunting license fee, and the removal of armbands, a measure put in place to distinguish between licensed and unlicensed hunters.

Illegal methods

As migration of many European birds has started to pick up, protected birds have already fallen victim to illegal hunting and trapping in the first days of the spring hunting season, with reports of electronic quail lures, shots at birds of prey, use of cage traps and use of repeater shotguns already witnessed in the first days of the season.

“We have had to make do with a small number of local staff and volunteers to try to monitor a few locations as best we can, and already we have witnessed hunters shooting at protected birds of prey. Worryingly, the number of police patrols in the countryside also appears to be very small and it is likely that other illegalities are going completely undetected.”

Poaching within reserve

BirdLife recovered a Common Kestrel shot near Victoria, Gozo, while two hunters, one of them wearing a balaclava to hide his face, were photographed poaching within the Foresta 2000 Bird Sanctuary in Mellieha. Police and MEPA enforcement officers responded to the incident, but the two men managed to escape.

Two men were filmed and photographed using illegal cages traps (Trabokki) to trap protected song birds in the valley below the FKNK-managed woodland at Mizieb. This time police attending the scene were able to apprehend the suspects and confiscate the banned cage traps.

“In 2011 and 2012, spring hunting seasons have been marked by an increase in witnessed illegal hunting incidents, correlating with increased numbers of licenses. With migration of many protected European breeding birds still picking up, while at the same time having a record amount of hunters out this spring, we can only fear the worst,” commented BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager, Nicholas Barbara.

“The record number of hunters and relaxed hunting legislation in a period when migrating birds are at their most vulnerable, as they make their way to their breeding grounds, make the work of the Spring Watch volunteers even more valuable,” said Mr Barbara. “We encourage to public to report illegal hunting, and take an active role in ensuring abuses are curtailed.”

BirdLife Malta continues to operate a voluntary scheme to recover injured wild birds. Anyone finding an injured bird can contact the BirdLife office on 21347644-6.

Anyone wishing to participate in the camp can still do so by contacting BirdLife Malta, and anyone witnessing illegalities is urged to report these to the police by calling the Administrative Law Enforcement unit on 22942161-3 or District Police on 21224001 or 119.

Maltese speak out against bird poaching

This video from Malta says about itself:

16 February 2013

Maltese people speak out about abuses in the countryside and call on politicians to stop chasing hunters’ votes and take action to protect wildlife and safe access to Malta’s countryside for all ahead of the general election on 9 March 2013.

Make the politicians listen! Your Voice Counts!

Times change, some things don’t…

For decades, politicians have granted hunters and trappers undue privilege with the result that they feel able to illegally occupy the countryside and kill protected species.

Politicians feel vulnerable before an election and the hunting lobby has been using this to their advantage. This time again, votes are being waved under their noses to bully politicians into submission.

This only works if politicians are convinced the occupation of public land, the widespread use of firearms in the countryside and the senseless killing of protected species are not a priority for you.

This time, make sure politicians are listening to you. When they knock on your door, tell them what you think.


A comment at YouTube on this video:

I am Maltese. MALTESE. I decided to go for my daily walk near Girgenti, rather than going around town like usual. All of a sudden, some hunter saw me, and he started shooting in the air, trying to scare me off. Being a woman, and being alone, in the middle of nowhere I walked back home.My own Country, My own home town, and I am not allowed to walk in the streets. X’gharukaza.

Bird crime in Malta

This video from Malta says about itself:

Injured Pallid Harrier and hunter shooting at protected birds

Apr 5, 2010

Footage released by BirdLife Malta today revealed the targeting of rare and protected species over the Easter weekend, where one of the rarest birds of prey in Europe was seen struggling to survive gunshot wounds, and a hunter in Gozo was filmed shooting at protected birds in broad daylight by the side of a main road.

From Wildlife Extra:

Big increase in illegal hunting in Malta – Raptors targeted

Shot protected birds doubled this autumn

November 2012, Malta – Since the opening of the autumn season on 1 September, BirdLife Malta has received 62 shot protected birds- nearly double the total of 33 shot protected birds recovered over the same period last year. This is the worst autumn hunting season since the organization started keeping detailed records of shot birds in 2007.

Birds of prey including Pallid harrier

Over 60% of the shot protected birds were birds of prey, including rare species in Europe such as the Pallid Harrier.

Furthermore during BirdLife’s international bird monitoring Raptor Camp the conservation organization recorded an additional 124 injured protected birds in flight with visible gunshot injuries, and a further 106 protected birds being shot at or shot down by illegal hunters.

Commenting on the present situation, BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager, Nicholas Barbara said “We have been witnessing widespread and commonplace illegal shooting and killing of protected species this autumn. The nearly 300 protected birds we witnessed being killed or received are just those we could record with our limited resources. We suspect that with the shot birds directly reported to the authorities and the unrecorded incidences, thousands of protected birds have been killed this autumn.”

Police overwhelmed

The flood of dead and injured protected birds received during the autumn hunting season has overwhelmed the Maltese authorities to the extent that the National Museum of Natural History, the Malta Police Force, as well as MEPA have no more capacity to store the carcasses of shot birds.

567 incidents of illegal hunting

BirdLife Malta alone recorded 567 incidences of illegal hunting at 40 different locations in Malta and Gozo during its Raptor Camp in September.

With a daily average of just 3 police vehicles observed patrolling the countryside, the mean response time to illegal hunting incidents reported to police by Raptor Camp teams was 50 minutes.

“All the evidence shows that illegal hunting is getting worse and that current enforcement is not effective in deterring illegal hunters from shooting protected birds,” continued Mr Barbara.

BirdLife has repeatedly asserted the need for Malta to institute a dedicated wildlife crime unit with the resources and specialist training needed if it is to effectively tackle illegal hunting and trapping. BirdLife Malta called on members of the public to continue reporting illegal hunting and injured birds incidents to the police and BirdLife.

Guidance on what is illegal and how to report incidents is available on the BirdLife Malta website,

In pictures: The migrant birds illegally shot in Malta: here.

September 2013. A juvenile Mediterranean Osprey fitted with a satellite tracking device in Corsica as part of a project studying the dispersal and migratory movements of these protected birds of prey has gone missing after arriving in Malta: here.

BirdLife Partners join forces against illegal bird killing in the Mediterranean: here.

Bird crime in Malta, Scotland

This video from a zoo says about itself:

The baby [greater] flamingo that was born on July 30 this year grows up well. This is “Dance of pleasure”.

October 2012. For the second time in less than a week illegal hunters have shot at and killed at least two Greater Flamingos flying off the coast of Malta, this time hunting the protected birds at sea, while BirdLife Malta received three more shot protected birds recovered at sea over the weekend: here.

October 2012. RSPB Scotland has condemned the shooting of a golden eagle, found barely alive, by a walker in Dumfriesshire. The bird was discovered on Saturday 6th October on a grouse moor near Wanlockhead, close to the Southern Upland Way. However, it is not clear precisely where the shooting occurred: here.

October 2012. A man has been convicted of illegally trapping a heron following a joint investigation with the Scottish SPCA and Dumfries and Galloway Police: here.

October 2012. Environmental groups have expressed deep concern about the sector-led planning that threatens to sideline Scotland’s marine environment and the national sustainability agenda. Members of Scottish Environment LINK – an umbrella group for Scotland’s environmental organisations – argue that delays to finalising a National Marine Plan will favour short-termist, large-scale development without ensuring due consideration of wider environmental impacts and the interests of broader marine activities: here.

Georgian bird migration and bird killing

People study bird migration not only in Sweden, or in the Netherlands, but also in many other countries like Georgia.

This video says about itself:

Batumi Raptor Count ( is an international project for the study and conservation of a critically concentrated autumn migration of birds of prey in the Old World.

From 2008 till 2010, for two months every autumn an international group of volunteers from over 10 countries has conducted a pioneering work in raptor migration monitoring at the eastern Black Sea coast. This compilation gives an impression of day to day life in the BRC project. Long days of counting 10,000´s of migrating raptors on a hilltop near the subtropical forest, meeting local people, working in an international team …

Some traditional Georgian music and Shantel set some atmosphere for the imagery of this international project in the Caucasus.

Especially the Adjara region in western Georgia is important for migrating raptors and other birds (rollers, black storks, etc. etc.). A narrow strip of land of a few kilometer is there, with on one side the Black Sea, across which many birds don’t like to fly, and on the other side the foothills of the Caucasus mountains, which migrating birds don’t like either.

So, this small coastal area in Adjara is excellent to see the migrating birds pass.

In 2008, the Batumi Raptor Count was founded there, to observe the migration. They found that every autumn, over 850,000 birds of prey, not counting other birds, pass through the narrow coastal corridor. Many more birds than people presumed before the counting started. Saghalvasho village is a good point for observation.

Unfortunately, poachers know about this bird migration as well. They shoot honey buzzards and steppe buzzards for food (there is much poverty in Georgia), and other, inedible, raptor species for “fun”. Many of these shooters do not have any licence to hunt. Many others do. However, according to laws in Georgia, licensed hunters can shoot songbirds and quail; but killing raptors is illegal.

What does Georgian police do against this bird crime? Hardly anything, according to Dutch Vroege Vogels radio on Sunday 7 October 2012. It seems that Georgian President Saakashvili needs too much police for violence against peaceful anti-government demonstrators, and for torturing prisoners sexually. Now that Saakashvili’s party has lost the recent parliamentary elections in spite of government election rigging, one should hope that things will become better for people, and for birds, in Georgia.

Batumi raptor update, August 2013: here.

October 2012. A flock of Greater Flamingos were shot by at least one illegal hunter standing on Malta’s shoreline at Qawra in full view of passers by, as the flock flew overhead across Salina Bay. Three are thought to have been killed, falling into the sea and two others were injured. A third injured flamingo was also seen flying very low around another bay: here.

October 2012. As the hen harrier teeters on the brink of extinction as a breeding bird in England, Coalition and Welsh Government Ministers have a once in a lifetime opportunity to tackle the illegal killing of birds of prey in England and Wales, and must not waste it: here.

Maltese criminal shoots pallid harrier

This video says about itself:

Injured Pallid Harrier and hunter shooting at protected birds

Apr 5, 2010

Footage released by BirdLife Malta today revealed the targeting of rare and protected species over the Easter weekend, where one of the rarest birds of prey in Europe was seen struggling to survive gunshot wounds, and a hunter in Gozo was filmed shooting at protected birds in broad daylight by the side of a main road.

From Wildlife Extra:

Pallid harrier shot on Malta

September 2012. A Pallid Harrier, one of Europe’s rarest birds, has been sent to a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Sicily after it was shot in Gozo on the 8th September. The Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) is a rare visitor to Malta and is considered to be one of the most threatened birds of prey in Europe.

The shooting of the juvenile Pallid Harrier was witnessed by a member of the public in Gozo who gave the injured bird to BirdLife. A veterinary surgeon examined the protected bird and diagnosed a fracture to its right wing.

“Luckily, the injury was not fatal and with proper treatment this bird is expected to make a full recovery. Malta to date does not have the rehabilitation facilities to care for wild birds with these kinds of injuries,” said Nicholas Barbara, BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager.

Recover at hospital in Sicily

The Pallid Harrier was sent to the Centro Recupero Fauna Selvatica, a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Sicily, which has successfully rehabilitated various injured birds that were sent over by BirdLife Malta in the past.

Last year, BirdLife sent another wounded Pallid Harrier to a centre in Berlin. The bird, which had been shot during the spring hunting season of 2011, had suffered a fracture to its left wing, but was unable to recover flight and had to be euthanized.

Since the opening of the 2012 hunting season two and a half weeks ago, BirdLife has received 10 birds of protected species that had been shot. Most of them had fatal injuries and had to be euthanized by a vet.

“The number of shot birds received by BirdLife Malta is just a small indicator of the vast scale of illegal hunting going on in Malta. Yet Malta has no wildlife crime unit or a proper rehab centre for injured animals. We expect the government to consider Malta’s wildlife as one of its assets and therefore one of the country’s priorities in the next budget,” concluded Mr Barbara.

BirdLife Malta encourages members of the public to report illegal hunting incidents to the ALE. Hunting after 3pm is illegal between 15th and 30th September, a ban enacted to protect migrating birds of prey. Instructions on how to file a report can be found at

September 2012. Illegal hunting and killing of protected birds in Malta has increased significantly during the autumn migration according to the initial analysis of data collected by BirdLife Malta’s international Raptor Camp observers: here.

Barn swallow news

This video is called Barn Swallows Drinking on the Wing (Narrated by David Tennant) – Earthflight – BBC One.

From the BTO Bird Ringing “Demog Blog” in Britain:

04 July 2012

10 Millionth Milestone continued…

Back in Feburary we posted a story regarding a Swallow that was the 10 millionth record to be added into the EURING databank (click here to read that post).

This female Swallow was ringed on 16 April 2011 in Malta, while on passage and was later caught by another ringer in Raby, Czech Republic on 19 Jun 2011. She would have then travelled to South Africa for the winter, and we have just heard that this bird is now back at her breeding site in the Czech Republic!

Current reports of Swallow breeding success in the UK have not been good so far this year. Growth of chicks has been slower than normal and some failed attempts have been reported, especially during the wet and stormy weather. Hopefully the latter half of summer will be more benificial to Swallows.

British turtle doves endangered

This video says about itself:

Illegal Trapping of Turtle Doves 2 May 2011, Red Tower (Malta), CABS Bird Guards.

CABS and police seizing nets and live Turtle Dove decoys at the Red Tower (Malta) on 2 May 2011, trappers are running away.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

RSPB scrambles to save turtle dove

Wednesday 09 May 2012

Conservationists will launch a last-gasp effort to save the turtle dove tomorrow.

Numbers of the bird — traditionally seen as a symbol of love and devotion — have dropped by more than 90 per cent since the 1970s.

But scientists have been left scratching their heads about the cause of the dove’s decline.

It may be they’re being shot down during their annual migration as they pass over the Mediterranean, but the RSPB will be investigating the possibility it’s being caused by changes to farming patterns hitting their traditional diet.

See also here.