First signs of spring bird migration over Malta…it’s time to enjoy nature!

March 8, 2019 11:53 am

With a harsh and wet winter behind our backs, spring is now just round the corner and there is no place better to witness the spectacle this season provides than at the nature reserves managed by BirdLife Malta. 

Sure enough the first signs of a return migration are already here. The first small flocks of Barn Swallows have been skimming the water at Simar Nature Reserve whilst the Little Ringed Plover has returned to Għadira Nature Reserve. Salina Nature Reserve has already seen its first breeding pair of Moorhens and also recorded the first Little Ringed Plover and first flock of Grey Herons whilst still hosting large flocks of gulls and terns of various species.

Small flocks of Barn Swallows have already been observed at Simar (Photo by Denis Cachia)

In order to make the most of spring, BirdLife Malta will be extending the opening hours at its Simar and Għadira Nature Reserves which will now also be open to the public during the week. As from this coming Monday 11th of March Għadira will be open in the afternoon (14:00-18:00) every Monday and Thursday whilst Simar will open (same time) on Tuesdays and Fridays. During April and May, before the reserves close for the summer break, the new opening times will be extended further and both Għadira and Simar will remain open to the public on the same days of the week for a further hour, till 19:00.

Opening times in the weekends will remain the same: Għadira is open every Saturday and Sunday whilst Simar is open every Sunday (10:00-16:00 in both cases). Saturday at Simar is reserved for events, whilst during weekdays in the mornings the reserves will keep on receiving visits by school children as is current practice. Maintenance work also takes place at these times at Għadira and Simar, together with regular research such as bird ringing.

Salina Nature Reserve, on the other hand, will retain its actual opening hours. The reserve is open for visits on all days. Visitors may walk through the park freely between Monday and Sunday (07:00-20:00 April-September, and 07:00-18:00 October-March) whilst the Visitors’ Centre is open Monday to Friday between 09:00 and 13:00. Likewise, Foresta 2000 – which is also managed by BirdLife Malta – remains open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This reserve is accessible all year round.

BirdLife Malta extends opening hours of its nature reserves to the public, launches new facilities for photographers

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana stated: “While these nature reserves are small pockets in our country which give priority to the biodiversity needs of these areas, getting people to connect with nature and enjoy themselves is getting increasingly important for all. While we encourage people to go out in nature more often especially during spring, we urge the Government to seek ways of extending the importance given to nature reserves beyond their borders to make sure we have a healthier lifestyle and a better quality of life”.

Gulls at Salina Nature Park (Photo by Aron Tanti)

BirdLife Malta is also happy to announce a new added attraction to the public at Għadira Nature Reserve. A new facility being introduced with immediate effect will give photographers the opportunity to book one of two photography hides which have just been set up at the reserve providing them with a unique chance of capturing some fantastic shots. Booking for a one-hour session will be required against a small donation. The hourly slots for the use of the photography hides at Għadira will be valid Mondays and Thursdays 2pm-5pm and Saturdays 10am-3pm (on the hour). Those interested are to send an email to photography@birdlifemalta.org. More details can be found here.

New photography hide at Għadira Nature Reserve (Photo by BirdLife Malta)

Entry to all of BirdLife Malta’s nature reserves is free, but donations are welcome. During the past days repairs were carried out at our Simar Nature Reserve which was severely hit in last month’s storm. The reserve suffered considerable damage to both a number of trees and the visitors’ centre. Salina too suffered some damage, albeit to a lesser extent. Those who would like to help by donating any amount can do so here. We would like to thank all those who have already contributed following our call on the social media.

Thanks to our ongoing collaboration with Transport Malta, we have recently also improved the road signage leading to all our reserves which should make it easier for the general public to find and reach these natural spots. The reserves’ entrances have in the past months also been embellished.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.

Have a look at what you can find in spring at our nature reserves below, and also at the new road signage and embellished entrances to our reserves.

Salina Nature Reserve – panoramic view by Aron Tanti