BirdLife invites public to visit nature reserves this weekend

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BirdLife invites public to visit Ghadira & Simar nature reservesBirdLife Malta has invited the public to visit the Ghadira Nature Reserve in Mellieha and the Is-Simar Nature Reserve in Xemxija on weekends between 10:00am and 4:00pm.

Over the past today few weeks Little Grebes, Moorhen and the more secretive Water Rail , amongst other birds, have made the Is-Simar nature reserve in Xemxija their home. Kingfisher, Black-necked Grebes and Coot are amongst the birds currently present at the Ghadira Nature Reserve in Mellieha. These birds will probably remain at the reserves till spring 2011 and can easily be seen from the bird watching hides open to the public.

The two reserves are the largest remaining salt marsh habitats in the Maltese Islands and are therefore important for a variety of fauna. Rich in endemic plants and insects, the reserves are one of the few places in the islands where the Killifish breed.

During the winter period several birds make the reserves their home before returning to their European breeding grounds in spring. Some of these wintering birds remain at the reserves during spring to breed, joining returning birds such as the Little Ringed Plover which only breed at the Ghadira nature reserves.

Managed by BirdLife Malta, Ghadira and Is-Simar have been designated as internationally important Ramsar sites under the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance. The reserves are protected under EU nature conservation legislation as Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation.

The reserves are open to school visits throughout the scholastic year and are open to the public every weekend from November 2010 to May 2011 between 10:00 and 16:00, during which guided walks will be held every hour on the hour. Entrance to the reserves is free of charge and there is no need to book.

Footage of some of the birds seen these past few weeks can be seen on www.birdlifemalta.org

Photograph): Last Saturday Aron Tanti captured this Snipe on film at the Simar Nature Reserve in Xemxija.

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