Bird watchers visiting Gibraltar will soon be able to enjoy a new network of migration observatories at strategic locations around the Rock. Announcing the establishment of the Europe-Africa Bird Migration Observatory Network (EABMON), the ministry of the environment said the various sites would offer different levels of access and protection, “with the aim being to maximise research and species conservation while maximising public access wherever possible”.
The EABMON was officially set up on the 50th anniversary of a landmark study on Palaearctic-African bird migration by the late Reginald Moreau of Oxford University. It forms part of a wider commemoration that is scheduled to culminate with the Calpe conference in September, when leading scientists will be gathering in Gibraltar to discuss current knowledge, climate change impacts and conservation requirements of migratory birds.
According to the ministry, Gibraltar sits at a crucial crossroad for these migration systems, and Gibraltar-based ornithologists have been involved in their monitoring and study for centuries.
Commenting on the initiative, minister for the environment John Cortes said, “I am truly excited with this initiative. Moreau’s seminal work is at the heart of my passion for birds and the study of bird migration and I am delighted to be able to take this step and contribute to the history and development of the study of these vulnerable creatures.
“I am really looking forward to Calpe ’22 when we will be able to highlight this initiative to an international audience of experts. Gibraltar will take its deserved place as a leader in the study of bird migration between Europe and Africa.
“This is a first step. Our aim is to improve existing facilities and develop new ones, in keeping with the network’s aims and objectives, which includes adding to the enjoyment of birds and bird migration by everyone.”
The ministry noted that activities relating to bird migration in Gibraltar centre around three main pillars: observation and recording; data collection and research; and rescue and rehabilitation. The new network of observatories will focus on three common themes: interpretation and education; monitoring and research; and conservation, rescue and rehabilitation. The observatories are owned or managed by the Gibraltar government, Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society, Gibraltar National Museum and Gibraltar Botanic Gardens.
The locations for the network are: Harding’s Observation Post (Europa Point); Marine Interpretation Centre (Europa Point), Europa Foreshore; Gorham’s Cave Complex including Europa Advance Battery Viewing Platform; Jacob’s Ladder; Jews’ Gate Field Centre; Parson’s Lodge; Windmill Hill Raptor Rehabilitation Centre; Tovey Cottage; and Gibraltar Botanic Gardens.