Join our Conservation Camp
April 11th – April 26th 2009

What is Spring Watch Malta 2009 about?

Spring Watch Malta 2009 is a conservation camp which forms an integral part of BirdLife Malta’s fight against illegal spring hunting. This camp is being organised during the peak spring migration period in Malta and thus the period with the highest expected hunting intensity.

BirdLife Malta organises two such camp each year – one in autumn called Raptor Camp and the other in Spring called Spring Watch. Over 50 people from the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark and Finland attended last Raptor Camp in September 08. During the two week period, a total of 362 illegal hunting incidents were recorded. However, thanks to presence of Raptor Camp teams, there was a dramatic reduction in the level of illegal hunting during the second half of the camp. More importantly, several poachers were arrested thanks to film footage and information provided by the Raptor Camp teams to the local anti-poaching police unit. As a result, large numbers of raptors were saved from the guns of illegal hunters.

When will Spring Watch 09 be held?

April 11th to April 26th , 2009

Why is Spring Watch Malta Important?

Last year (2008) was the first time ever that the spring hunting season was not opened in Malta. We are confident that this year the spring hunting season will also not open. It is therefore vital that BirdLife Malta maintains a strong presence in the countryside to make sure that hunters respect the law.

This camp will be crucial to the protection of a wide range of migratory species (including birds of prey, herons, bee-eaters, orioles etc.) which use Malta as a critical resting and feeding stop-over on their way back to European breeding grounds. Click here to see which birds were recorded during last Spring Watch 2008 and here to see which were recorded across the Maltese islands in April 2008.

What’s in it for you?

This is an excellent chance to make a genuine contribution to wildlife conservation and experience life in another country. You will be given the opportunity to get involved in serious conservation work and, more importantly, play a part in stopping illegal hunting of wild birds.

Is this an International effort?

The impact of illegal hunting in countries along the main migratory flyways is an international issue that affects birds breeding in Europe and wintering in Africa. A bird shot illegally in Malta or anywhere else is therefore not just a crime affecting that country, but one that is of European and African concern. The presence of international volunteers helping out in these camps raises awareness amongst the locals who are increasingly more supportive of bird conservation issues.

What does the Spring Watch Malta camp consist of?

2008 was the first time ever that spring hunting was banned. The reason for this was that the European Court of Justice imposed an interim measure on Malta, forcing Malta not to open the spring hunting season. This year we confidently expect that spring hunting will be banned once again, and therefore the scope of the camp will consist of monitoring the countryside to record any hunting activity taking place. This will involve using both static and active observation posts to look for hunters in the countryside, reporting any illegal activity to the police authorities, recording evidence using hand-held video and still cameras, and recording illegal activity until the police arrive at the scene.

Camp activities are carried out every day during the morning and afternoon. As well as monitoring migration of Turtle Dove and Common Quail (the two main quarry species in spring), participants will also record migration of a range of other migratory species, including raptors, herons, bee-eaters, orioles and hirundines.

When not working on the main Spring Watch Malta objectives, participants are free to choose from a variety of planned and non-planned activities. These include birding-related activities (such as birdwatching trips to local nature reserves) and other leisure activities such as cultural visits to historic sites, swimming and other social activities. In the evening there will be workshops, discussions and films organized for the participants.

What skills do you need to join Spring Watch Malta?

All one really needs is enthusiasm and motivation to fight against illegal hunting. However, a number of volunteers are required to have good bird identification skills to accurately identify bird species and record data on migration. For those without identification skills, a crash course in bird ID skills will be provided twice during the duration of the camp.

Please note that English is the working language of this camp and all presentations and summaries will therefore be carried out in English.

What about accommodation, food and transport while in Malta?

BirdLife Malta organizes group accommodation in an aparthotel in Buskett Forest. This aparthotel also acts as the base of all activities during the camp.

Accommodation, food and transport (during camp activities) will be organized for the group.

How long does the camp last?

The camp starts on April 11 and lasts for 2 weeks ending on April 26. Volunteers may come for one or two weeks, depending on their availability and the flight schedule.

How much does the camp cost?

The cost per day for the camp is 20€. This includes:·

* Shared accommodation in the aparthotel
* Continental breakfast
* Packed lunch
* Cooked dinner (one main course with desert)
* All transport during working activities

Not included in the above cost:

* drinks (during and after meals);
* activities which are not essential to the camp’s operation;
* anything else not mentioned above.

Airport transfers will be organised by BirdLife Malta. However, an extra charge will need to be paid to the taxi driver by the camp attendees. The cost of each airport trip is €25, however those arriving on the same flights will be able to share the price. This will be organised by BirdLife Malta.

What weather should one expect?

Weather in Malta is typical Mediterranean with hot summers and mild winters. By end of March beginning of April the weather starts improving. Historically, April has had a highest ever recorded temperature of 29.4 Celsius and lowest ever of 6.5 Celsius. On average, the temperature ranges from 20 Celsius during the day to 13 Celsius during the night. It is probable that on some of the days it will rain.

For more information or to make bookings

Simply send an email to springwatch@birdlifemalta.org