A new and exciting initiative for the scientific study and public enjoyment of bird migration between Europe and Africa has been established. The Europe-Africa Bird Migration Observatory Network (EABMON) has been set up on the 50th anniversary of a landmark study on Palaearctic-African bird migration by the late Reginald Moreau of Oxford University. It is part of a wider commemoration, initiated in Gibraltar, that will culminate with the Calpe conference in September, when leading scientists will gather in Gibraltar to discuss our current knowledge, climate change impacts and conservation requirements of these migratory birds.
Gibraltar sits at a crucial crossroad for these migration systems and Gibraltar-based ornithologists have been involved in their monitoring and study for centuries.
Activities relating to bird migration in Gibraltar centre around three main pillars: (a) observation and recording; (b) data collection and research; and (c) rescue and rehabilitation. The new network of observatories will focus on three common themes: (a) interpretation & education; (b) monitoring & research; and (c) conservation, rescue and rehabilitation. The observatories will enjoy a spectrum of levels of protection and access, and they will contribute towards the network’s objectives differentially. They are owned or managed by different bodies, namely HM Government of Gibraltar HMGOG), Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS), Gibraltar National Museum (GNM) and Gibraltar Botanic Gardens (GBG).
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 the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens. These sites will enjoy different levels of access and protection with the aim being to maximise research and species conservation while maximising public access wherever possible.
EABMON will be co-ordinated by a board consisting of representatives of the various observatories in the network and chaired by Minister with responsibility for the Environment, Professor John Cortes.
Commenting on the initiative, Minister for the Environment, Professor 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.”
He added: “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”.