CABS - the German based Committee Against Bird Slaughter - has reported some illegal bird shooting but also reported  some 'real progress after some 200 birds of prey in Mizieb were able to fly off unharmed despite the presence of some 50 persons with shotguns.

In a statement this morning, CABS said that a remarkable mass fly-in of Honey Buzzards, harriers and other birds of prey took place over the past two days due to prevailing weather conditions.

Thousands of Honey Buzzards, Marsh and Montagu’s Harriers as well as a few Black Kites spent last night roosting on Malta and Gozo.

The night roosts chosen included the Mizieb woodland, the area around Little Armier, the vicinity of Buskett and Mgarr as well as the Delimara Peninsula.

“The majority of the birds continued their migration this morning unscathed” commented CABS spokesperson Axel Hirschfeld. “Nevertheless, despite a massive police presence, a number of poachers used the opportunity to shoot down several birds of prey yesterday evening and this morning”.

The first casualty was recorded at about 5.45 p.m. yesterday in the eastern part of the Mizieb woodland, where a poacher fired two shots at a group of Honey Buzzards as they came in to land. One bird was mortally injured. The police, alerted by a CABS patrol, searched the area and checked suspicious vehicles, without success.

CABS was also informed by police sources that a male Marsh Harrier with shotgun injuries had been recovered at 4 p.m. in the Gnejna Bay area by the ALE and taken to a veterinary surgeon.

At 7.15 p.m. a CABS team, deployed together with police officers in Delimara, witnessed a Honey Buzzard coming under fire from several locations. It finally fell to earth dead. Between 3 p.m. and 7.30 p.m.  a total of 46 shots were registered at Delimara.

Shortly before 8 p.m.  the same team recorded 5 shots in the vicinity of Żejtun. A short time previously several Montagu’s Harriers had been sighted in the area. 

The largest night roost, with some 200 birds of prey, was the Mizieb woodland.

"Although at least 50 persons with shotguns were out and about there this morning the three CABS teams deployed in the area recorded no killing of protected species.  It was fantastic to see these rare birds fly off unharmed. In view of the massacres of birds of prey in this very area over the past few years this represents real progress” commented Alexander Heyd, CABS’ General Secretary.

The other - and darker - side of the coin was revealed near Little Armier area, where at least 100 Honey Buzzards had roosted in the nearby picnic grounds. The on-site CABS team witnessed the shooting down of the first Honey Buzzard at  5.32. A bird leaving at 9.50 was killed near the Red Tower. Between 8-9 a.m. a further three Honey Buzzards were shot at while leaving the roost but were not mortally hit. The ALE was informed of the situation and they despatched several patrols to the eastern Marfa Ridge. 

CABS was also informed of the arrest of a poacher by police near Żejtun after he had shot down a Honey Buzzard.

Since the start of their operations last weekend, CABS said its teams had recorded 158 contraventions of hunting and bird protection legislation. These included 119 shots outside permitted hunting times, the illegal use of electronic decoys on 16 occasions, 12 occurrences of the shooting at or shooting down of protected bird species (the figures include yesterday’s and today’s events), 7 instances of the use of firearms with more than 3 consecutive shots, 3 cases of hunters not wearing the essential armbands as well as one case of illegal trapping of protected song birds. The latter offender was filmed. In addition a total of 9 birds of prey with obvious shotgun injuries were observed.