BirdLife invites public to visit Nature Reserves this weekend

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BirdLife invites public to visit Nature Reserves this weekendThis weekend the public are invited to visit Ghadira Nature Reserve in Mellieha and Is-Simar Nature Reserve in Xemxija as they open to welcome visitors for another season of bird and wildlife watching.

The two reserves are the largest remaining areas of salt marsh in Malta and are designated as Wetlands of International Importance. They provide a variety of habitats for resident breeding birds and visiting migrants, including dry and wet reed beds, lakes dotted with small islands, olive groves and other indigenous wooded areas.

Visitors to the reserves should keep an eye (and an ear) out for the resident Moorhens and Coots on the lakes, as well as migrating birds visiting the reserves, including majestic Grey Herons and Little Egrets, shy Water Rails hiding in the reed beds, gregarious Starlings in trees and if you’re lucky, Kingfishers darting from perch to perch over the water.

These and many other birds over-winter in the reserves before returning to their European breeding grounds, but some stay to breed in the reserves, like the Little-ringed Plover, which breeds nowhere else in Malta.

The public bird-watching hides give visitors the opportunity to observe the birds’ natural behaviour in their natural habitat, an intimate wildlife experience it is difficult to get anywhere else in Malta.

As well as birds, the reserves support a rich variety of other wildlife, including reptiles such as snakes, geckos and chameleons, numerous insect species and even rare protected fish in the lakes.

The reserves will be open to the public every Saturday (Ghadira) and Sunday (Ghadira and Simar) between 10.30am and 4.30pm from November to May, throughout the autumn, winter and spring months. Entrance to the reserves is free of charge and guided walks lead by friendly and experienced reserve staff and volunteers are organised every hour throughout the weekend.

From Monday to Friday during the school year the reserves are open to school visits as part of BirdLife Malta’s Dinja Wahda environmental education programme. Schools interested in booking visits or finding out more about Dinja Wahda can enquire through the BirdLife office. Email: office@birdlifemalta.org Tel: 2134 7644-6

More information about the reserves and how to get there is available on the Nature Reserves pages of the BirdLife Malta website www.birdlifemalta.org.

Photogaphs – Birdlife Malta: A Little Egret seen from one of the bird-watching hides catching a fish in its long beak, which it uses like a spear on the end of its long neck. – Adult Coot moving amongst the reeds. Coots are just one of the birds that have made their home at the reserves, successfully breeding in Simar this year. – Mediterranean Chameleons stay camouflaged in the trees at Ghadira and Simar. – Grey Herons and Little Egrets are a common sight at Ghadira in autumn, the birds taking advantage of the opportunity to rest and refuel before continuing their migration.

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