2014 has been a good year for breeding birds in Malta. Both our nature reserves provide vital habitats offering not only rich food sources for these birds and their young, but also shelter and protection from habitat destruction and human disturbance.
Ghadira is our larger wetland reserve based in Mellieha. 2014 is the third successful year for breeding Black-winged Stilts here. They first bred successfully in 2011, then 2013 and now this year as well. Other breeding species at Ghadira this year have included: Little Ringed Plovers, Collared Dove, Zitting Cisticola and Tree Sparrow.
Our other reserve, Is-Simar in Xemxija, also provides an important reed bad habitat for breeding birds. This is the only place in Malta where the Coot breeds and Simar also supports a localised breeding population of Reed Warblers. This year the reserve has also had breeding Moorhens, Cetti’s Warblers, Sardinian Warblers and Spanish Sparrows.
On Sunday 22nd June, we opened Ghadira reserve especially to celebrate these breeding birds, offering the general public the opportunity not only to learn about breeding birds, but also to experience the reserve during the closed Summer period.
It was a beautiful day to be surrounded by nature. We had both locals and tourists, young and old, visiting to try and spot our plover and stilt chicks.
Not only is Ghadira reserve great for birds, it also provides an ideal habitat for many plants, reptiles, insects and even mammals. On the day there were chameleons, geckos, rabbits, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and lots more species to enjoy.
Some fantastic birds were also seen, including Little Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and Common Redshank.
The whole day was topped off by the arrival of a Spoonbill on Friday night. The enigmatic bird stuck around for the event and was a feature attraction for some of our regular visitors!
The nature reserves are now closed for the summer, but will open again in November. More information can be found on our website and you can also like our reserves on facebook here: Ghadira, Simar.
Photos by Ray Galea, Tim Micallef and Holly Forsyth