Tuesday. Day 7 on Malta.
Cruising around the countryside. Listening for illegal callers. Machines playing recordings of birds in order to lure them closer so that they can shoot them. These are illegal. We came across a lot.
In the afternoon / evening we went out with Nimrod, Birdlife Malta. He received news on a sighting of a Short-toed eagle. A rare bird anywhere.
We chased around searching and found it perched upon a rock overlooking a valley. What a sight. A glorious bird.
We guarded where believed it went to roost until 8pm. The police then took over. Two team of two officers, three volunteers and one bird watcher were looking out for this one bird. And still we all knew the chances of it surviving the night were slim. Already I’d seen torchlight in the valley. Probably poachers searching for the eagle.
Wednesday. Day 8 on Malta.
Up at 5am. We collected Nimrod, and headed straight back to the roosting site. A different team off officers were there. But watching out for it they were. There are some good guys.
It was an extremely wind and chilly morning. All wrong for an eagle.
We watched a finch trapper behaving rather oddly. Android so there officers decided to take walk over, surprise him and see what he was up to. Unfortunately the suspicious man must have spotted them or somebody called ahead to warn him. Suddenly, he gathered all his captive lure finches, stuffed there cages in a holdall (that’s how small they are), and made a sharp exit.
Trapping something illegal? Trapping without a license?
We watched seven Marsh harriers pass over, a few kestrels, a Sparrowhawk chasing a Skylark.
And finally, at 9.15, the exquisite eagle rose up before our eyes.
Within seconds, she was across the valley and beyond. The effortless speed was incredible. Though the wind helped her a tad.
The chase was on again. The police short off after her. With us following shortly after. Slowed down a little with all our binoculars, scope, and video cameras!
We didn’t find her. Neither did the cops. We’ll try again later. Please cross your fingers and toes. We hope she’s still alive.
This time last year is when the largest ever flock of Short-toed eagles attempted to get across Malta, enroute to Africa. It was a massacre. Pretty much half of the Italian population was shot down in one day.
Some good news:
Yesterday, a consignment of 800 finches, illegally trapped on Sicily any on their way to Malta for illegal sale, was caught. Incredibly only a few birds had died. The rest were immediately released. It’s a shame they didn’t get a team of ringers together. If they’d all had official scientific rings on, Maltese trappers would not be able to sell or exhibit them. They’d have no choice but to release them.
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