Earlier this week the police found several trapping sites which were being used to catch waders. Some of the trapping sites were very large and sophisticated and included areas of water to create the aquatic habitat favoured by these birds as well as bird callers that were being used to attract migrating birds.
Waders are small to medium-sized birds with long legs and beaks that live in wetlands or coastal environments. Many species breed north of the Arctic Circle and are highly migratory.
In the far north summer comes late and lasts for only a few weeks. The waders usually arrive in April or early May to get the most out of a plentiful supply of food which consists mostly of small mud and soil dwelling animals.
The food does not remain available for very long and by June the old and young birds start their journey south. On the way they stop at various places to rest and feed with large flocks gathering on the mudflats on the coast of Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands.
Some species winter in Europe while others continue their journey south to reach the coast of North Africa or continue travelling further south.
Two species of waders, the black winged stilt and the little ringed plover for the past few years have been breeding at the Ghadira Nature Reserve. This year he black winged stilt bred for the first time at Is-Simar Nature Reserve but these two species are not the only ones to be seen in the Maltese islands. Several species are seen during migration starting from early to mid-July.
It is these birds that are being trapped illegally in the Maltese islands.
There can be no justification for this wanton destruction and probably the trapping is being resorted to as a trapper site is more difficult to locate than a hunter whose shooting can be heard from a distance. The trapping sites that have been found are probably only the tip of the iceberg and more vigilance is necessary to completely eliminate this illegal activity.
This articl was published in The Times of Malta on 7 August 2014.