What a contrast. This morning I enjoyed wood sandpiper, black-tailed godwit, green sandpipers and even an alien species, Egyptian goose, in the English peace of RSPB Pulborough Brooks. A sparrowhawk circled and climbed, and a kestrel flapped low over the wader scrapes. I didn't have to fear for them.
One week ago at the battlefield of Mizieb in Malta, almost certain death would have visited the two birds of prey. As it was, those woods were silent and empty, save for a handful of hostile gunners, looking like mama had just taken their favourite dolly from them. We also walked past a veritable ghetto of crudely constructed shooting hides. I had the impression of passing through a deserted concentration camp, but one that was ready to jackboot to attention in a moment.
Over-dramatic? Not given the latest grisly evidence from Malta’s war on birds. Just yesterday at Mizieb, BirdLife and CABS recovered 76 freshly killed birds supposedly protected from the shooters by the Maltese government. If you think our politicians are cynical, that lot are positively brazen. I don't know how the Maltese can bear them any longer.