Malta: day 3 (love at first sight)

Out of the hotel by 5am and in position 50 minutes before sunrise. We were on a hill top overlooking a valley. I was sleepy and soon realised I hadn’t worn/brought enough clothing for such a cold windy morning. I froze.

Quite a quiet morning for us (compared to other teams). Three kestrels went to and fro avoiding bullets. Most hunters had spotted us and so moved to locations out of our vision or just didn’t shoot at all. Of course, I have no idea what happened to the Kestrels when they left our valley. One harrier passed through the valley with some kind of injury.

Other teams managed to see huge flocks of harriers through with just one being hit.

The highlights of the morning – I heard a Quail calling, Bee eaters too. Though I do wish they wouldn’t sing as they fly. They are alerting hunters to their arrival. Such cute little colourful birds. Do they shoot them? Hell yeah.
And the best – I saw an Algerian hedgehog mooching about in the wonderful flora.

Afternoon/evening. We searched for illegal cage traps. Cages with birds in them already, with a hole in the top. Birds such as Turtle doves find their way in but then cannot work out how to get out again. We saw cages full of Turtle doves, and Song thrushes. Legal. None with visible entry holes though.

Alpine swifts were arriving all day, swooping the skies with the Swallows.

We saw two skinks playing on a track.

We were escorted off a track by a man insisting the track was private. He was such a gent. “your kind are not welcome, you are against hunters, piss off.”

We saw a Kestrel who’s tail feathers didn’t seem right. Could just be from long journey. Could be gunshot damage.

And lastly. Oh my. I rather fell in love. A pair of Red-footed falcon. Sitting on telegraph wires. Cute comes nowhere near the reality. They were perching there, in plain view for the whole world of hunters to see. We took our own perch and watched and waited. Eventually they moved to a tree to roost for the night. Hidden.

It’s now 10.20pm. I’ll be up and out again at 2.30am.

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

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About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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