Young BLM members enjoy a close encounter with shearwaters

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Young BLM members enjoy close encounter with shearwaters on boat tripOn Friday evening young members of BirdLife Malta’s Klabb Huttaf took to the sea for a wildlife encounter with one of Malta’s most enigmatic birds, the Scopoli’s Shearwater.

The Scopoli’s Shearwater, known as Ciefa, is the largest of Malta’s shearwater species. During the breeding season these birds can be seen congregating in large numbers (500-1000 birds) on the sea, behaviour known as “rafting.”

As darkness falls they begin to leave the water and fly to their burrows in the cliffs to take the turn in incubating their egg or to feed their growing chicks

Setting out just before sunset, the group watched the shearwaters gather in “rafts” on the sea, as gradually more and more birds congregated before seeing them heading back to their nests in the cliffs after dark.

Klabb Huttaf, BirdLife Malta’s nature club for children, aims to engage children with the wildlife around Malta, encouraging a passion for nature conservation. They were joined by guides from BirdLife’s youth group, Falko, who were on board to answer questions and provide information about these incredible birds and the threats they face.

Klabb Huttaf leader, Kathleen Mamo, said “seeing the birds in action is a great way to inspire both children and their parents to help us ensure a safe future for these birds.”

With 5% of the global population of Scopoli’s Shearwaters breeding in Malta, it is vital that these birds are protected. Last year, the Malta-Gozo channel became Malta’s first internationally recognised marine Important Bird Area, partly due to the importance of the channel for Malta’s threatened shearwaters.

The Scopoli’s Shearwater, along with the Yelkouan Shearwater (Garnija) and the European Storm Petrel (Kangu ta’ Filfla), is being studied by the EU Life+ Malta Seabird Project, led by BirdLife Malta. This project is creating an inventory of marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) where these seabirds forage and breed.

This work is of great significance due to the threats Malta’s seabirds’ face from development close to the colonies, rat predation, and light pollution.

Experience a Shearwater Boat Trip:

BirdLife Malta will also be running a Shearwater Boat Trip for members of the public to enjoy. Taking place on Saturday 2nd August, tickets are €6 for members and €8 for non-members.

To find out further details or to make a booking for this event, please contact events@birdlifemalta.org or phone the BirdLife office on 21347646.

Find out more about BirdLife Malta’s activities for children: BirdLife Malta’s club for young members is called Klabb Huttaf. As well as getting a regular magazine (in Maltese) full of fun and interesting information and stories about nature and wildlife, there are all sorts of outdoor nature activities and visits organized for members.

For more information about Klabb Huttaf activities and to join, visit our Klabb Huttaf pages or email office@birdlifemalta.org.

Find out more about the conservation of Malta’s seabirds: View the Malta Seabird Project blog here.

Raft of Scopoli’s Shearwaters at Ta Cenc. Photo by Daniel Cilia.

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