Stop bird killing in the Mediteranean


This video says about itself:

Stop Illegal Bird Hunting In Malta

13 April 2015

Every year countless rare and protected birds are shot out of the sky in Malta, while on migration.

For many years, BirdLife Malta has been working to stop this senseless killing. Every spring and autumn, our volunteers are active in the countryside to monitor and attempt to prevent illegal hunting.

Coordinating these efforts is extremely expensive. We need vital funds to purchase suitable vehicles, surveillance and monitoring equipment, and to train our volunteers.

With your help, we can stop this illegal killing of birds on Malta.

From BirdLife:

Extent of illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean revealed in BirdLife report

By Finlay Duncan, Fri, 21/08/2015 – 17:00

BirdLife International’s first review into the illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean has been published – and it’s uncovered the shocking death toll suffered by a number of the region’s species.

Unlawfully shot, trapped or even glued: the review estimates 25 million birds are being killed illegally each year. With the help of BirdLife Partners, a list of the ten Mediterranean countries with the highest number of birds thought to be killed each year has been compiled. The review lays bare the areas where conservation efforts need to be stepped up.

Countries currently hit by conflict, such as Syria and Libya, do feature highly in the rankings, but so do some European nations too. Italy comes second only to Egypt for the estimated mean number of illegal killings each year. Meanwhile, the Famagusta area of Cyprus has the unenviable position of being the single worst location in the Mediterranean under the same criteria.

Other European countries featuring in the top 10 are Greece, France, Croatia and Albania. Despite not ranking in the top 10 overall, Malta sees the region’s highest estimated number of birds illegally killed per square kilometre.

For BirdLife, the review further demonstrates why the Birds Directive, currently under examination by the European Commission, should be better implemented, rather than re-opened.

The review also exposes some of the common methods of killing in use across the Mediterranean; which include illegal shooting, capture in nets and recordings of bird sounds used to lure them to illegal trapping locations. Many of the cruel methods used, such as lime sticks that glue the birds to branches, cause considerable suffering before resulting in the bird’s death.

Figures suggest Eurasian Chaffinch comes top of the ‘kill list’ (an estimated 2.9 million are killed each year), with Eurasian Blackcap (1.8 million), Common Quail (1.6 million) and Song Thrush (1.2 million) making up the rest of the top four. A number of species already listed as ‘Near Threatened’ or ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List are also in danger, according to the review.

The review’s publication comes as the British Birdwatching Fair gets underway today (Friday 21 August 2015) at Rutland Water Nature Reserve. It also marks the launch of BirdLife’s new Keeping the Flyway Safe fundraising campaign to help target resources for conservation in the worst affected locations.

Commenting on the publication, BirdLife International CEO, Patricia Zurita, said: “This review shows the gruesome extent to which birds are being killed illegally in the Mediterranean. Populations of some species that were once abundant in Europe are declining, with a number even in free-fall and disappearing altogether.”

“Our birds deserve safer flyways – concluded BirdLife’s CEO – and we want conservation efforts to be increased now, before it’s too late.”

The data in the review previews a scientific paper due to be published soon giving a full assessment of the situation in the Mediterranean.

For a full breakdown of the numbers for each country and species mentioned in this article, please see the review itself here or press release here.

New marine wildlife discoveries in Maltese waters


This vide is called Malta Diving Adventure: Marine Life.

From the Times of Malta:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 12:23

73 new species recorded in Maltese waters

A total of 61 authenticated alien species and another five unconfirmed ones were recorded in Maltese waters by the end of last year, according to an extensive survey Julian Evans, Jacqueline Barbara and Patrick J Schembri, from the university’s Department of Biology.

Analysis of the known or probable mode of arrival of these species indicated that the most common mode of introduction was through boating and shipping.

Other species were first introduced elsewhere in the Mediterranean and then managed to spread to the Maltese Islands under their own steam.

Thirty of these records were made since the turn of the century, clearly indicating that the rate of new records was at an all-time high. This was likely due to the present day warming trend of Mediterranean surface water, which favoured the occurrence, establishment and range extension of warm-water species in the central Mediterranean.

The researchers also documented another phenomenon – the spread of Atlantic warm-water species to the central Mediterranean – which was almost certainly related to this warming trend. To date, seven such species have been recorded in the Maltese Islands, so the total number of new species (aliens + Atlantic range extenders) now stood at 73.

Overall, the most represented groups were molluscs (21 species), fish (15 species), crustaceans (eight species) and red algae (seven species).

More than half of the newcomers (38 species) established breeding populations, while a further eight species were considered to be invasive.

These species were the seaweeds Lophocladia lallemandii, Womersleyella setacea and Caulerpa cylindracea, the bivalve Crachidontes pharaonis, the crab Percnon gibbesi, and the fish Fistularia commersonii, Siganus luridus and Sphoeroides pachygaster.

The latter species, a pufferfish, was particularly interesting because it was one of the Atlantic species that extended their range to reach the central Mediterranean independent of any human involvement, and was therefore not considered to be an alien species.

Scopoli’s shearwaters off Malta


This video says about itself:

LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project: A Life of Sound

30 June 2015

Seabirds have some truly amazing calls. In this video you will hear…

Storm Petrel, 30 jun. 2015

Seabirds have some truly amazing calls. In this video you will hear…

Storm Petrel, Yelkouan & Scopoli’s Shearwater sound recordings recorded during the project. In the darkness of a cave or whilst flying at night, vocal communications are often how individuals communicate with each other.

From daily The Independent in Malta:

Secretive birds: BirdLife Malta members enjoying shearwaters at sunset

Saturday, 11 July 2015, 14:38

Over two hundred people have set sail on BirdLife Malta’s sunset boat trips to experience the natural spectacle of hundreds of incoming Scopoli’s shearwaters (ċiefa) as they return to their nests deep in the Ta’ Cenc cliffs, Gozo, the NGO said.

During the trips, participants were able to see these amazing birds up close as some 800 birds surrounded the boats. The adult birds spend all day at sea, finding food to bring back to their single chick. Secretive birds, shearwaters will only return to their nest under cover of darkness; and at dusk hundreds of birds may be seen gathering together on the sea waiting to return to their young.

Malta is home to 5% of the world’s Scopoli’s shearwaters, with 1000 pairs nesting at Ta’ Cenc alone. The EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project, led by BirdLife Malta, has been researching their lives with the aim of creating Marine Protected Areas to safeguard Malta’s seabirds.

BirdLife Malta is organising further boat trips in August, open to members and the general public. Interested readers can email ‘events@birdlifemalta.org’.

Rare moth in the Netherlands


This video is called Striped hawk-moth at Buskett Woodland, Malta.

Translated from the Dutch Butterfly Foundation:

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

This spring is good for migratory butterflies and moths. Besides painted ladies and red admirals which have flown to the Netherlands in large numbers there are also many reports of hummingbird hawk-moths. The crowning touch is the striped hawk-moth which on June 7 was seen in a garden in Velserbroek.

This South European species had been seen for the last time in the Netherlands in 2011.

Maltese hunting season stopped after wounded kestrel falls among playing children


This 2014 video is about a kestrel couple and their chicks in their nest on a balcony in Poland.

From the Times of Malta:

Monday, April 27, 2015, 13:43

Hunting season closed after shot bird falls into school yard

The hunting season was closed today after a bird which was shot twice crashed bleeding into the yard of St Edward’s College in Cottonera while the children were on their school break this afternoon.

The decision was announced by the prime minister in a tweet. He said what took place today was inexcusable.

“Despite sharp decline in illegalities, today’s hunting incident is inexcusable. I have decided to immediately close down the season,” Dr Muscat said.

The season was supposed to close on Thursday.

The wounded kestrel on the playground in Malta

A teacher, Diana Triganza, who was on supervision at St Edward’s, said the boys, aged between seven and 10 were ‘traumatised’ by what they had seen. Some of them started screaming when the bird fell into the football pitch.

The incident happened at about 12.30. The bird, believed to be a Kestrel, was shot from outside the school grounds.

It was first shot once and hit, and them shot again. Five shots in all were heard.

The police were called and officers from the ALE took away the bird. Officials from the Animal Welfare Department told school teachers that the bird may survive.

HUNTING SEASON CLOSED

In a statement announcing the immediate closure of the spring hunting season, the government pointed out that immediately after the referendum, the prime minister had warned that he would not tolerate abuse.

During the season, the number of abuses fell drastically thanks to strong law enforcement and the collaboration of those involved.

Nonetheless, today’s incident could not be justified. No information about who had carried it out had been received.

Therefore the season was being closed immediately. This, the government said, should be a signal that such abuses would not be tolerated.

Help migratory birds in your garden


This video says about itself:

Birds at Birdlife Malta‘s Reserves

4 April 2009

This video shows that birds can be enjoyed in the wild state in the Maltese Islands. Creating habitat, like Birdlife Malta did at the reserves at Simar and Ghadira helps birds to find refuge during their migration and breeding seasons.

From BirdLife:

Make Spring come Alive in your garden or balcony this year!

By Shaun Hurrell, Mon, 20/04/2015 – 16:01

The arrival of migratory birds signals a change in seasons, when life is in full swing. Use this cue to get out and enjoy nature, and at the same time give something back. Follow our advice and make simple changes to make your garden, balcony, or school bird-friendly with Spring Alive this year.

Spring Alive is a movement started by a BirdLife, organised by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) to encourage children and adults to take action for the migratory birds they learn about. This season, Spring Alive has provided easy-to-use information and directions to help you to help birds. Whatever time you have and whatever size space, you can take action for birds in your garden. Whatever country you live in, you can also get in touch with your local BirdLife Partner for local advice for benefitting birds in your garden and get involved with local Spring Alive events.

Pretend your garden or balcony is your own nature reserve, and you are the warden. If everyone in Africa and Europe makes their garden bird-friendly, imagine how much better birds and biodiversity will do! You might be lucky enough to get a visit from Spring Alive migratory bird species and be able to help them rest and refuel, but you will be sure to be rewarded by local wildlife thriving in your garden too.

Cuckoos are not garden birds, so how can I help them?

Make your garden friendly for species such as Dunnock and Robin, who are host species for cuckoos. Also, grow honeysuckle, nettles and sallow which are all good for caterpillars including some hairy ones, which Cuckoos love! Cuckoos are therefore a great example of how our gardens are part of the wider ecosystem – what we do between our fences may affect species that don’t even use that space.

Visit the Spring Alive website for more advice and get in touch with your local Spring Alive / BirdLife Partner.

And once you have done it – share it – show and tell us about your achievements on the Spring Alive facebook and flickr pages!

If you build it, they will come!

Malta poacher sentenced for killing northern lapwing


This is a video from the Netherlands about a northern lapwing and its chicks.

From the Times of Malta:

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 14:55 by Matthew Xuereb, Caroline Muscat

Hunter sentenced to three months in jail – ‘did not know’ that lapwing cannot be hunted in spring

Offender has pending case of attempted murder

Updated 6.08pm – Shaun Demicoli, 37 of Birzebbuga was sentenced to three months imprisonment and had his shotgun confiscated this afternoon after he admitted to shooting and injuring a lapwing bird early this morning. He also admitted breaching bail conditions imposed in 2011 and last year and relapsing. His pending cases include a charge of attempted murder of a Tunisian man.

Wearing a bus driver’s uniform, Mr Demicoli told the court that he did not know that that kind of bird could not be hunted in spring.

Mr Demicoli also had his hunter’s licence suspended for three years and was fined €200 for breaching the bail conditions. The court recommended that he should not lose his job, which he was given only recently.

He said he would appeal and walked out of court – the sentence only comes into force once the appeal is decided.

Lawyer Jason Grima was defence counsel.

The bird, which was handed to the police, was shot between Birzebbuga and Hal Far even though, in terms of Spring hunting rules, only turtle dove and quail can be legally hunted, in limited numbers.

The FKNK hunters’ federation said the offender was reported by other hunters. He is not one of its members.

It appealed to other associations to suspend him if he is their member, and said abuse will not be tolerated.

The incident followed another yesterday when Stefan Micallef, 43, of Naxxar, shot a protected cuckoo in Manikata. He was filmed by BirdLife volunteers hiding the bird under a bush after shooting it.

Mr Micallef told a court that he mistook the cuckoo for a Turtle dove, but was fined €2,500 and had his licence suspended for three and a half years. His shotgun and ammunition were confiscated. The sentence came with a stern warning from the court that protected species must not be shot.

Following the referendum, won by those in favour of the spring hunting season, the Prime Minister Muscat stressed on Sunday that illegal hunting would not be tolerated.

The incident yesterday was followed by a backlash on social media calling on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to keep his word with #josephzommkellmtek and #closetheseason.

Earlier today, the Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Welfare, Roderick Galdes was asked to define what the prime minister meant when he said that the season would be closed if there was flagrant abuse.

He told the media there had to be major abuse such as happened last autumn when the season was closed.

ST HUBERT HUNTERS: IGNORANCE BY THE PERPETRATOR

Kaccaturi San Ubertu (KSU) in a statement said it commended the immediate action taken by the authorities in apprehending and sentencing the persons responsible of shooting protected birds.

“Today’s incident, where a protected bird was shot, exemplifies ignorance on the part of the perpetrator being unaware that spring hunting is only practiced on turtle dove and quail. It also highlights an ambiguity in our gun licensing system where a person with a criminal record involving aggression of a police officer and a pending case of attempted murder is allowed a gun licence.”