As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Pallid Harriers amongst rare birds shot in Malta

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

A juvenile Pallid Harrier, one of Europe’s rarest birds of prey, 
found in Gozo with shotgun injuries yesterday.
 As few as 310 pairs remain in Europe. Photo by Jez Toogood
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 two even to 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.

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