Radar shows a mass of birds rising inot the air in fright as the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve © KMI

The setting off of fireworks on New Year’s Eve in Flanders caused major problems not only for pets and horses, but also for wild birds, nature protection organisation Natuurpunt reports.

The organisation has published radar pictures obtained from the Royal Meteorological Institute showing thousands of birds being frightened into flight by firework explosions.

The images show the radar pictures recorded at the Institute station at Jabbeke in West Flanders just before and just after midnight, at a peak of fireworks activity. As the clock ticks over from 23.59 to 00.00, a mass of green specks rises into the air, representing flocks of birds taking off.

The pictures are not those used for weather reports, Natuurpunt explains, but unfiltered radar images that also show (in red) such features as high buildings, high voltage lines and, near the top of the image, the wind turbine park in the North Sea.

The images show important locations for flocks of birds: the harbour at Zeebrugge, the nature reserve Het Zwin at the border of Belgium and the Netherlands, the valley of the Ijzer and the east coast polders.

“These are all important areas for water birds where large groups for instance of geese and seagulls sleep. Thanks to the loud explosions of the fireworks, the birds take off in blind panic, running the risk of flying into high-voltage lines or windmills. Above all, this requires a great deal of energy from the birds, who only ever fly in winter if they have enough food. This causes them to lose a lot of valuable energy.”

Natuurpunt is issuing a call for firework activity to be limited to residential areas where it is allowed at all. “There should be firework-free zones in the vicinity of nature areas and in the area of bird protection zones,” the organisation said. “Maybe we can make use of 2020 to achieve this, so that 2021 might deliver up a peaceful New Year’s Eve.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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