Simar Nature Reserve is an oasis amongst a valley of agricultural landscape. The reserve takes its name from the sharp rush (Is-Simar in Maltese) which is regenerating throughout the reserve. The wetlands provide a safe haven for both resident and migrating birds.
Made up of a mosaic of habitats including open pools, reedbed, and trees, Simar is teeming with wildlife. The pools are attractive to aquatic birds like herons, rails and kingfishers, but also provide a home for the rare and protected Mediterranean Killifish and species of rare tassel-weed. Simar is a fully protected bird sanctuary, a Ramsar site, and a Special Area of Conservation within the EU Natura 2000 network.
Simar lies at the end of Wied Il-Pwales – Pwales coming from the latin Palus, meaning “marsh”. Up until the 1980s, Simar was a neglected, and largely used as a dump. Human activity such as hunting, littering, and sewage overflow left the area substantially degraded. Towards the end of the decade, the site was threatened with permanent destruction by proposals to build a theme park. Howerver, BirdLife Malta’s alternative proposal to restore the wetland was accepted instead. Work began in 1992, with a network of pools, canals and islands created, hundreds of trees planted, restoring the site to the thriving wetland sanctuary it is today.
What To Spot
The reed beds offer a good hiding place for secretive species such as Water Rails, herons, egrets and shy warbler species. As you walk around the trail, look out for Mediterranean Chameleon and geckos camouflaged on the branches, and listen for the distinct call of the Cetti’s Warbler.
During the spring, migrating Barn Swallows can be seen feeding on insects above the pools, where rare Mediterranean Killifish and various crustaceans dwell.
Simar is the only place on the Maltese Islands where Coots and Little Grebes breed and for the first time in 2014, a pair of Black-winged Stilts successfully bred at this reserve.
Opening Hours & Getting There
The reserve is open between September and May. During the week we’re open on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays 2pm-7pm. On weekends we are also open on Sundays 10am-4pm. Entrance to the reserve is free of charge but donations are welcome.
If you are new to birdwatching, volunteers are on hand to provide assistance and help you spot some of Simar’s special wildlife. Please note, the reserve is a no smoking area and no pets are allowed inside the reserve.
Simar Nature Reserve
St. Paul’s Bay
Contact No: 7953 8122
The reserve is located on Triq il-Pwales, Xemxija, where parking is available.
Accessible from bus stops ‘Roti’ and ‘Simar’ on the routes 41, 42, 221, 222, X1.