Despite  the hunters and despite the glacial EU Commission - these finches have made it back to Penarth

Despite the EU “Derogation” allowing them to be hunted, these finches have made it back to Penarth

A small flock of migratory finches, who every summer  fly from Africa to Penarth, have finally started to back arrive in back gardens in the Lower Penarth – but there are fewer of them this time.

Bird trappers in Malta – the bird’s first European landfall –  are allowed, under European Union rules, to use guns to shoot them or nets to try to trap them in their thousands as they stop-over on the Mediterranean island en route for the UK .

Malta has more than 10,000 “recreational hunters” who like to kill or trap pretty much anything that flies over island thanks to a permitted “derogation ” from the “E U Birds Directive” made by the undemocratic European Union Commission. [ The unelected E U Commission makes the laws for the entire European Union – including the UK, unless of course Britain votes “Leave “ today. ]  

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) - "counting them in" as the finches arrive safely in his garden

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) – “counting them in” as the finches arrive safely in his garden

The surviving birds are arriving back in Penarth – after running the gauntlet of Malta and dodging  the E U hunters’ nets and guns on their journey North.  Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) is counting the finches arriving back in his garden –  and says there are fewer of them than usual – just 4 rather than the 12 who nested in his garden last summer .

For the past 40 years the European Union has mostly turned a blind-eye to the cruel practice of wild bird hunting in Malta which has decimated the numbers of some species .

One of the finches which has arrived back in Cllr Clive Williams's garden

One of the finches which has survived the EU derogation and arrived back in Cllr Clive Williams’s garden

This year,  under intense pressure from environmentalists and the powerful pro-wildlife lobby, the  European Commission – which can’t be voted out of office – has finally begun to concede a little to public opinion and has referred Malta to the European Court of Justice in the first serious bid it’s ever  made to get Maltese hunters to cut back on the annual slaughter .

However wildlife bodies say the E U Commission should not be allowing any kind of wild bird hunting or trapping anywhere in the union’s 28 countries and that Malta should be given no latitude.

Malta’s Hunting Federation – on the other hand – claims that finch trapping and shooting is “an important pastime” on the island . In April this year Malta went to the polls in a referendum which voted to continue the trapping the birds . The E U says limited hunting is OK provided the numbers of birds killed are “small” and hunting is conducted under supervision, but – under pressure – now claims Malta is killing too many.

Meanwhile the surviving finches now arriving in the back gardens in Penarth can at least breathe a sigh of relief that no-one’s going to do them any harm here.


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  1. Mgg says:

    Goldfinches have been back for ages already . Ooh think I will vote leave now I know about this being done by those Europeans. On the other hand we can’t change it unless we stay . No I’m going back to my Euro song contest framework. I.e. no one votes for us so up theirs ….I think?

  2. 249ers says:

    Thank you for identifying the birds we saw at Cosmeston last week, so glad at least some had made it to Wales. I am surprised the RSPB has not been lobbying against Malta’s ‘important pastime’

  3. Kevin Mahoney says:

    I stand to be corrected by the bird watching experts but isn’t Italy bad for it’s large number of blast the birds out of the sky charmers as well?

  4. Ivor Bagman says:

    Nice photos !
    Goldfinches are partial to teasels.
    Anyone with teasels near
    Should keep a lookout.

  5. Christopher David says:

    Yes Kevin and Spain, Greece (them again) et al. Bunch of cavemen protected by pseud intellectual.

  6. Could Cllr. Clive please lend/sell me some of his special bird nuts, so that they will come to my garden ?

  7. Marilyn newman0 says:

    We have had two in our garden,they are beautiful
    Birds,how upsetting to think of them being shot inMalta

  8. Christopher David says:

    And trapped netted eaten in Spain Greece Italy and Malta plus a few Islands on the migratory routes.

  9. leighA says:

    We have these beautiful gold finches in our back garden every day of the year, often in flocks in excess of 10 to 12 birds. Surprisingly they remain despite ALL the trees on the Penarth Marina escarpment being cut down by the Vale. Their favourite nibble is Niger Seeds.

  10. Dizzydeb says:

    What is wrong with these people!! If your looking for a holiday this year this island is to be avoided. We can vote with our feet.

    Good to see how effective the EU is in helping wildlife. We won’t mention live export of live animals in the EU.

    The most shocking moment, said Packham (spring watch) was when he watched 20 migrating Montagu’s harriers – a vanishingly rare species in Britain – fly onto the island to roost one evening. Later that night, he was called by a local bird-lover who had found hunters roaming through the fields with torches and guns, trying to shoot these majestic birds of prey as they roosted on the ground.

    “That’s the mentality of these people. It’s so different from the UK,” he said.

    Maltese hunters have reacted angrily to a procession of British naturalists arriving on the island to campaign against their spring shoot, which is forbidden by the EU birds’ directive. Malta was taken to the European court of justice over its shoot but subsequently satisfied the EU that its annual derogation from EU law was within the rules.

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