Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna joined birdwatchers at Buskett this afternoon at the same site where some of them were attacked last Sunday by hunters.

With binoculars in hand, Mgr Scicluna witnessed scores of migratory raptors circling above the woodland as they prepared to come down and roost for the night.

Invited by Birdlife, a bird conservation group, the visit had been planned a couple of months ago but took on additional significance after the weekend's incidents, he said.

"I am here to show my support to birdwatchers," Mgr Scicluna said, appealing for civic sense to prevail.

He called on everyone to respect the rule of law, insisting that he was on the side of the authorities that sought to ensure laws were obeyed.

"I encourage people to appreciate nature as God's gift, take care of it and enjoy it so that the heritage of nature will continue in time. I also encourage people to obey the laws regulating hunting and the protection of species."

He condemned the violence against the birdwatchers, insisting it was ironic that on the 50th anniversary of Independence some Maltese could organise "an ambush" against fellow Maltese.

Bird watching was a sort of meditation because it allowed people to observe the beauty of nature without interfering with it, he said.

On a humorous note Birdlife president Geoffrey Saliba noted that the bishop was "an excellent" birdwatcher, a comment that brought a smile to Mgr Scicluna's face.

"I'm learning," he said as a veteran birdwatcher gave him a thick reference book on birds.

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