BirdLife Malta hosting a special open day at Ghadira nature reserve

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BirdLife Malta hosting a special open day at Ghadira nature reserveTo celebrate the variety of breeding birds that can be found at Malta’s nature reserves, BirdLife Malta is hosting a special open day at Ghadira nature reserve next Sunday, the 24th of May, from 10am till 4pm.

Among the various breeding birds that can be found at Ghadira such as Black-winged Stilts, Moorhens, the reserve’s first Little Ringed Plovers have hatched this week.

Little Ringed Plovers breed regularly in Malta; however breeding is almost exclusively restricted to Ghadira nature reserve. This is because a few years after the reserves opening, some of the islands at Ghadira were covered with shingle and seashell – a terrain that is most preferred by this bird and encouraged them to nest there.

This effort was paid off in 1995 when Little Ringed Plover pair bred in Malta for the first time. Since then Malta has an average of six breeding pairs per year.

The Little Ringed Plover, Monakella in Maltese, is a relatively small wading bird with a distinctive black, white and brown head pattern and a noticeable yellow orbital eye-ring. It is a common migrant in Malta, and is seen from early March to late May, and late July to early November. Furthermore, in more recent years a group of few resident breeding pairs has developed.BirdLife Malta hosting a special open day at Ghadira nature reserveAnother species currently incubating in the nature reserve is the Black-winged Stilt. This black and white wader with distinctive long, pinkish-red legs is an irregular breeder on the Maltese islands.

BLM said that after Ghadira’s restoration in 1980, it was hoped that Black-winged Stilts would use the site to breed, however it was some 30 years later in 2011 that the first confirmed breeding was sighted – both at Ghadira nature reserve and in Malta generally.

However breeding displays were seen earlier. In 2009 a pair had set up a nest, but the male was shot to death when flew outside reserve. In 2012 there is no breeding record for these species, but in 2013, three pairs successfully bred at Ghadira with 7 chicks successfully fledging. Last year a pair of Black-Winged stilts also successfully nested at Simar Nature Reserve.

At the special open day visitors will get the chance to learn more about Black-winged Stilts, Little Ringed Plovers and other breeding birds at the reserve.

There will also be educational activities such as bird ringing demonstrations, discovery nature trails and guided tours, as well as hands-on activities such as nest box building and creative crafts.

This event is suitable for both families and adults, and is a great way to honour the closing of Ghadira for the season. There is no need to book. Entrance is free but donations are welcome.

Photos: Little Ringed Plover chick looking for food (BirdLife Malta) and a pair of Black-winged Stilts breeding (Aron Tanti)

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