First Mediterranean Storm-petrel nestling on Malta – BirdLife Malta
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First Mediterranean Storm-petrel nestling at L-Irdum tal-Madonna. This achievement marks 11 years of successful rat control in the area. BirdLife Malta has said.
BirdLife Malta’s LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija project researchers have confirmed the first successful breeding of the Mediterranean Storm-petrel on Malta, at L-Irdum tal-Madonna in Mellieha.
It currently breeds on the islet of Filfla and a few sea caves in Gozo, and this small seabird species, was confirmed breeding at the site following the fledging of a chick in 2016 and the ringing of a nestling which hatched this year.
BLM said that the first breeding attempt was made in 2014, after 11 years of consistent rat control in the area.
“The rat control, which was initially implemented by the LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project, was introduced to combat the threat of predation to Yelkouan Shearwaters – particularly by Black Rats – on eggs and nestlings that was in turn contributing to the low nesting success for this vulnerable species.”
The NGO added that through these “important conservation measures in not only meant that the site still hosts the largest Yelkouan Shearwater colony in the Maltese Islands and increased nesting success to over 80%, but has also allowed the presence of breeding Mediterranean Storm-petrels, demonstrating that over several years these methods can enhance biodiversity and benefit a wider part of the ecosystem.”
There will be the continuation of the on-site rat control actions, which will be expanded to other sites as part of BirdLife Malta’s ongoing LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija project, it said. “This could lead to more Storm-petrels nesting successfully and benefit other seabird colonies around the Maltese Islands,” said the NGO.
BirdLife Malta remarked that, “while rat control is efficient, waste collection in more remote areas such as L-Ajax tal-Mellieha needs to become more regular, so that rats will not be able to feed on organic food litter.”
The LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija project is also encouraging the public “to refrain from littering and take their rubbish back home whilst enjoying these coastal areas to also reduce the feeding opportunity for rats and prevent an increase in numbers.”
Photos: The first ever Mediterranean Storm-petrel to be ringed as a nestling at L-Irdum tal- Madonna. (Photo by Martin Ousted) – L-Irdum tal-Madonna) and (Photo by Paulo Lago and The adult Mediterranean Storm-petrel incubating its egg at L-Irdum tal-Madonna (Photo by Martin Ousted)