2014 was another good year for the protected wetland Bird Sanctuaries of Is-Simar and Ghadira, where several bird species have again bred successfully.
“This is always one of the most satisfying events for all of the staff, volunteers and visitors at the reserves,” said BirdLife Malta’s Nature Reserves Manager, Mark Gauci, “when can share in the enjoyment of these birds breeding and rearing their chicks in the habitat that has been created for them.
” At Simar, in Xemxija, adult Coots (Tigiega tal-Bahar in Maltese) can be seen with their young chicks paddling and feeding in the water amongst the reeds. These birds breed only here in the Maltese Islands. And yesterday, three broods of Little-ringed Plovers (Monakella) hatched at Ghadira, with 10 fledglings (chicks that have left their nest) exploring the lagoon and islands under the watchful eyes of their parents.
For the second year there are Black-winged Stilts (Fras-servjent) nesting at Ghadira, with two pairs of adults currently with eggs.
“It is a nervous time for the wardens,” said Mr Gauci, “We hope the eggs will hatch and we will have stilt chicks walking around in the reserve in a month’s time, but for now it is a waiting game.”
Last year, two out of three pairs successfully hatched a total of seven chicks, all of which safely left the wetland in the summer.
The nature reserves are open to the public for two more weekends before the annual summer shutdown, and BirdLife Malta are encouraging people to come and see the birds while they have their young chicks. “We want people to be able to share in our enjoyment of these beautiful birds, and of course our pride that they are breeding inside the wetlands we manage.”
Other regular breeding birds that can be seen in the reserves in include Sardinian Warblers (Bufula Sewda) and Cetti’s Warblers (Bufula ta' l-Ghollieq) , which are more often heard than seen. And there are still migrating birds visiting on their way north. Last week an Avocet spent five days at Is-Simar (the first time this bird has visited the reserve), and Night Herons have roosted in the trees nearby.
It’s not only birds that can be seen here either. Both reserves are home to abundant native plant and animal life, including butterflies, beetles and chameleons.
Is-Simar is open on Sundays from 10.30am until 4.30pm, while Ghadira is open on Saturdays and Sundays for the same hours. There are visitors assistants available to help people spot and identify the birds and other wildlife, and guided walks through the reserve are offered every hour.
For more information about visiting BirdLife Malta’s reserves, facilities and how to get there, please visit www.birdlifemalta.org or find the reserves pages on Facebook.