Record number of people visit BirdLife Malta’s nature reserves following newly introduced extended opening hours to the public

May 29, 2019 11:50 am

Following a very busy season during which extended opening hours to the public were introduced leading to an increase of nearly 2,000 visitors for a record number of more than 12,000 people, this week BirdLife Malta’s nature reserves close for the summer break.

Black-winged Stilts at Għadira Nature Reserve (Photo by Noel Camilleri)

The reserves are ecologically important areas in which biodiversity and nature are given priority, and they are primarily meant to provide shelter and rest to migratory birds. They are kept closed in the summer months to enable the managing wardens to carry out maintenance work and habitat improvement works on the sites. Plans are on the cards for some upgrades to the respective nature trails with new information panels planned for visitors, as well within the wetland areas to create new areas for feeding and sheltering for migratory birds.

The past season was a particularly busy one for BirdLife Malta’s reserves, with a fully-booked schedule of daily school visits for the months of the scholastic year, a large number of private and public events, and above all the introduction of new extended opening hours which proved to be very popular with the public who could also visit these natural sites during afternoons on selected weekdays.

Following a busy season, the reserves now take a well-deserved summer break. This year they will reopen two months in advance, retaining the new opening hours

This opening season which spanned from October 2018 to May 2019 saw a staggering record 12,030 members of the public visit the nature reserves, which represents an increase of nearly 2,000 visitors when compared to the same period the previous year. Out of this figure 4,813 were school children while the rest (7,217) where families and individuals visiting. 1,148 of these (16%) visited during the new opening hours during the week.

As a result of these encouraging results we are happy to announce that we will be keeping the new opening hours when the reserves reopen after summer. Furthermore, this year the reserves will be reopening to the public with the existing schedule earlier than usual, at the beginning of September, instead of November. This means that the reserves will only be closed for the period June-August, and will reopen two months in advance when compared to previous years.

As from the beginning of September, Għadira Nature Reserve will be open on Mondays and Thursdays from 2pm to 7pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm. Simar Nature Reserve will reopen from September every Tuesday and Friday from 2pm to 7pm and on Sundays from 10am to 4pm.

Purple Herons at Għadira Nature Reserve (Photo by Aron Tanti)

We would like to remind the general public that the opening hours for Foresta 2000 and Salina Nature Reserve will remain unchanged even during the summer season. Foresta 2000 is open all year round and is accessible 24 hours a day. Salina Nature Reserve is open for visits on all days with visitors able to walk through part of the park freely between Monday and Sunday (April to September 7am to 8pm, October to March 7am to 6pm). In addition the visitors’ centre at the reserve will remain open in summer from 8am to 12pm Monday to Friday.

Entry to all the reserves will remain free of charge and there is no need to book to visit. However, donations help support the upkeep of these important nature reserves.

Easter EggCitement….one of the recent events held at Simar (Photo by Jose Luque)

The reserves’ management is also happy to announce that following the summer break, we will be once again providing the opportunity to photographers to book one of the two photographic hides at Għadira to capture some fantastic shots of birds at the reserve. This new facility which was also introduced during the past season has proved to be very popular and will be retained.

Booking for hourly slots for the use of the hides will be available again as from September when the reserve reopens. As was the case before, the one-hour sessions will run on the same days when Għadira is open to the public: Mondays and Thursdays 2pm-6pm, and Saturdays 10am-3pm. Those interested are to send an email to photography@birdlifemalta.org

More information about BirdLife Malta’s nature reserves can be found here or on the Facebook pages of the respective nature reserves. One can also visit the events page on our website to stay up to date with upcoming activities.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.