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.”

Birds still killed in Malta


This 2014 video is called Malta – Massacre on Migration (Episode 1).

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Friday 17th April 2015

PETER FROST is outraged that year in and year out millions of migratory birds fly over Malta where they are killed by the thousands to satisfy a primitive bloodlust.

Each spring millions of birds fly north across the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Britain and the rest of Europe after wintering in Africa.

The popular holiday island of Malta lies on one of these key bird-migration routes and every spring thousands of Maltese hunters point their guns skyward and blast these birds of passage out of the sky.

The hunters claim their targets are the traditional quarry of turtle doves and quail but in fact anything with feathers is considered fair game. Thousands of local hunters arrive in trucks with banners and slogans such as “If it flies it dies.”

Over the last three years nearly eighty species of bird, including 17 species of birds of prey, have been recorded shot illegally by these Maltese hunters. Thousands of protected species, including birds of prey or herons, are persecuted each year.

Of these 80 species there were four species of very serious global conservation concern. They are Audouin’s gull, pallid harrier, red-footed falcon and lesser kestrel. The latter is considered under threat of total worldwide extinction.

Another 40 species are of European conservation concern, including greater flamingo, crane, kingfisher and lesser spotted eagle. The spring bloodlust also slaughters owls, swifts, swallows, martins, cuckoos and nightingales.

Far from showing any guilt Maltese hunters have recently requested that the islands’ government further defy international bird protection laws and the European Court of Justice by permitting the spring shooting of quail and turtle dove in even larger numbers.

The spring hunting of quail and turtle doves is illegal all across Europe but the Maltese government allows hunters to ignore the ban under special agreements with the European courts. They claim the slaughter is a long established cultural tradition.

Last week a special referendum in Malta narrowly rejected a proposed ban on the slaughter. The result was very close with just 2,220 more votes deciding against the ban out of a total of over a quarter of a million votes cast. Malta’s population is just over half a million.

Hunters scored 50.4 per cent of the vote mostly thanks to a strong showing from the island of Gozo, perhaps the most pro-hunting part of Malta. So the hunting goes on and thousands of birds will die this spring in Malta.

Against this background of wild-bird slaughter in Malta let me introduce Karmenu Vella. This 64-year-old politician is a long-serving member of Malta’s government, which has overseen and approved the widespread slaughter of birdlife on the island — including many endangered species.

Amazingly Vella took up last November his new job European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Vella being put in charge of the European commission’s environment portfolio, which has specific responsibility for birdlife and its habitats, has horrified green groups, campaigners and wildlife protection organisations. It certainly terrifies me.

Many feel that Vella’s appointment is part of the newly elected commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s plan to weaken the powers of Europe’s environment directorate and that Vella has been selected specifically to implement these changes.

Other parts of Europe also have their illegal bird hunting too although tighter legislation and more enlightened environmental thinking have reduced, and are reducing, its impact.

As well as Malta hunters in parts of Spain and much of Italy still shoot and kill protected birds.

One of the worst offenders is Cyprus where around 10 million songbirds a year are shot, netted or limed to make a traditional Cypriot dish. The birds are often either pickled or poached for an island delicacy called ambekopoulia.

The dish is expensive and illegal. It can still be found in many traditional restaurants. One restaurant owner with ambelopoulia on his menu explains its popularity by likening it to Viagra.

The Leaving is Living campaign awards enforcement agencies for fighting the illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean. NGOs working side by side with police, responsible hunters and volunteers are making a difference, but the battle must continue to make the illegal killing of birds a thing of the past: here.

Saving Mediterranean seabirds


This video is called Birds of Lesvos, Greece.

From BirdLife:

BirdLife Partners working across the Mediterranean to protect seabirds

By Elodie Cantaloube, Fri, 20/02/2015 – 15:07

Seabird and marine conservation experts are gathering this week in Hammamet, Tunisia to discuss the current knowledge of seabirds and the key threats they are facing.

BirdLife is represented at the workshop by its Partners within the region, including Amis des Oiseaux- BirdLife in Tunisia, and BirdLife Morocco (GREPOM) and from its European Partners SEO/BirdLife in Spain, BirdLife Malta and the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) in Greece. This workshop, organised by the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA) and MedMaravis, provides an excellent opportunity for experts across the Mediterranean, to share their experiences tackling seabird conservation.

Marguerite Tarzia, BirdLife’s European Marine Conservation Officer said ‘‘Mediterranean Seabirds do truly face pan-Mediterranean threats, such as overfishing, bycatch, invasive predators, habitat destruction because of ill-planning and marine pollution. International meetings such as this one are the most effective way to collaborate on protecting this incredibly rich sea.’’ As a key follow up to this meeting, BirdLife in conjunction with BirdLife Malta will hold another International workshop on Mediterranean Seabird Conservation on the 23rd-27th November, which will focus on protecting seabirds across National boundaries and international waters of the Mediterranean and will examine the key threats and the most effective routes and mechanisms for protection.

BirdLife’s knowledge of and experience with seabirds is vital to effectively tackle conservation at a regional scale. Dr Benjamin Metzger, Head of Research at BirdLife Malta said, “We have just finalised three years of intensive research in Malta tracking Yelkouan Shearwaters, and now looking into identifying those sites which need to be designated for the conservation of this species. The project will be overseeing the designation of the very first Marine Special Protected Area sites for Malta.”

In 2014, Spain announced the creation of 39 new Special Protection Areas at sea, based on SEO/BirdLife’s marine IBA inventory. This dramatically increased the amount of sea being protected in Spain. In relation to protecting the most threatened seabirds, such as the Balearic Shearwater however, there remains much to be done across the region. Pep Arcos, SEO/BirdLife Marine Coordinator, said “Despite recent research on the Balearic Shearwater suggesting a larger population than previously expected, but this does not reflect an increase, only a better assessment. On the contrary, this species is still suffering a sharp decline, and the mounting evidence points to bycatch as the main cause. If we do not tackle this threat, the species will be lost within the next century.”

The accidental capture of seabirds in fishing gear remains a key threat to many Mediterranean seabirds. BirdLife is working  to understand the scale of the problem and begin to look for solutions to prevent seabirds being killed. While some work has been done in small areas to quantify the problem, at a regional level little is known about how many birds are caught and there has never been a concerted approach to tackling this issue across the Mediterranean.

BirdLife has recently launched the European Seabird Task Force to begin to tackle seabird bycatch in the region in a consistent and collaborative manner. Bringing our international experience from the Albatross Task Force, which works in southern Africa and South America, our expert team of observers are working collaboratively with artisanal demersal longline fishermen in the Spanish Mediterranean to understand the problem and to find effective and appropriate solutions to reduce the numbers of seabirds killed. BirdLife aims to expand the scope of this work across the Mediterranean.

BirdLife’s Partners in the Mediterranean are extremely active in seabird conservation, and many of them will be presenting the results of their work this week. Check it out!

·         The Hellenic Society for Ornithology (HOS) are surveying seabirds in Greece following on from a recent LIFE project on seabirds, and working on management of protected marine sites and monitoring of seabirds at sensitive development sites such as Athens Airport.

·         BirdLife Slovenia (DOPPS) is completing an EU LIFE project (SI-MARINE) to identify marine sites for protection for the Mediterranean Shag.

·         In Italy, LIPU is identifying marine Important Bird Areas for breeding Scopoli’s Shearwaters.

·         In Croatia, BIOM is mapping wintering seabirds along its coastline to assist protected area designation and working on island restoration projects for the breeding Common Tern

·         SEO/BirdLife has been championing the conservation of the Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater, with monitoring of colonies in the Balearic Islands as well as working on marine protected area management through the recent INDEMARES project. Currently, with BirdLife, they are implementing the Seabird Task Force-along a section of the Spanish Mediterranean coast.

·         BirdLife Malta is currently completing its EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project, which will see the identification of marine Important Bird Areas (marine IBAs) for the endemic Yelkouan Shearwater both within and beyond Malta’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

For further information on BirdLife’s seabird and marine work, and our upcoming workshop, visit our website or contact Marguerite Tarzia – the European Marine Conservation Officer.