Bird autumn migration in Malta

This 4 August 2020 video from Malta says about itself:

First signs of the autumn migration!

The hot summer months are in full swing and yet, despite this, nature still takes its cycle with several birds now at the end of their breeding seasons. At Għadira Nature Reserve, a pair of Little Ringed Plover are still incubating their third brood of the season, whilst the Black-winged Stilts are preparing to take off on their first migration, with the hope that they are back to breed next year.

Spotted Flycatchers are also busy seeing to their young, continuously on the go to provide them with a variety of insects. The Collared Doves, which – like the Spotted Flycatcher – can now be observed in various localities, can be seen occupying high perches from where their unmistakable cooing can be heard.

At the nature reserves several wader species, normally amongst the first to signal autumn migration, can be observed, namely Little Stint, Dunlin, Ruff and Common Sandpiper. Salina Nature Reserve, apart from hosting waders, also has a good number of gulls resting and feeding, mostly Yellow-legged Gull but also the occasional Audouin’s Gull.

Footage by Aron Tanti, editing by Nathaniel Attard.

Black-winged stilt families in Malta

This 31 July 2020 video from Malta says about itself:

The two new Black-winged Stilt families at Għadira: an update!

Here is a video update about the new Black-winged Stilt (Fras-servjent) families which were formed this year at our Għadira Nature Reserve.

The young of the first pair which hatched on 19th June have over the past two weeks been flying around our nature reserves, moving from Għadira to Simar, as they build the strength needed for their first migration, whilst the chicks of the second pair which bred at Għadira in 2020 are also about to fledge soon.

This year we were happy to have eight Black-winged Stilt successfully hatch at our Mellieħa reserve. The Black-winged Stilt is a migratory wader species and following the breeding period, normally adults and their young would have left Għadira by late July or mid-August to continue migrating south.

Five recovered birds freed in Malta

This 4 June 2020 video says about itself:

Three birds of prey and two turtle-doves rehabilitated and released back into the wild

On the 15th May 2020, BirdLife Malta was able to release five rehabilitated birds back into the wild. They had all suffered gunshot injuries during their spring migration back to their breeding grounds further north in Europe.

The birds released were a Common Kestrel which was illegally shot in Girgenti and picked up on 29th March, an illegally shot Lesser Kestrel found on 5th April at Mtarfa, an illegally shot Marsh Harrier retrieved on 16th April from Salina, and two illegally shot Turtle doves picked up on 20th and 21st April from Binġemma and Armier, Mellieħa.

All of these protected birds were retrieved by BirdLife Malta after initially being found by members of the public. The birds were then examined by the government veterinarian, who confirmed the cause of their injuries and recommended rehabilitation as the next best step for their recovery. The birds spent between three and seven weeks in rehabilitation, but the work is worth it as it results in birds such as these ones having a second opportunity of reaching their breeding grounds.

All of the birds were fitted with a BirdLife Malta ring beforehand, in order to track their movements if they’re seen or found again. Ringing can help guide conservation work as we can learn important details, such as where they may migrate through, settle to breed, where they may overwinter, longevity of the species, and so on.

15th May was also Endangered Species Day, and to mark this occasion, the two Turtle doves were released at Għadira Nature Reserve whilst streamed live on Facebook! Turtle doves are classified as ‘Vulnerable’ according to the IUCN, so every bird counts when it comes to ensuring that this species does not reach ‘Endangered’ status.

All of the birds of prey were released on Comino, which is a designated bird sanctuary and provides them with an ideal place to get accustomed back in the wild, before restarting their migration.

BirdLife Malta would like to thank the people who contacted us after finding these birds. The work that we do would not be possible if it was not for the support from members of the public.

Footage by BirdLife Malta, editing by Nathaniel Attard.

Migratory turtle doves tagged in Malta

This 26 May 2020 video says about itself:

In May 2020, soon after the spring hunting season in Malta came to an end, BirdLife Malta ringed and satellite-tagged three Turtle-doves as part of an international study aimed at investigating the migratory movements of the European Turtle-dove.

The Turtle-doves, two females and a male, were each fitted with a 5-gram solar-powered satellite tag sponsored by our German BirdLife partners NABU.

The birds were captured from the Comino Bird Observatory operated by the BirdLife Malta Ringing Scheme.

Turtle-dove Marija was fitted with satellite tag #345 and was released on 1st May 2020. Turtle-dove Hope was fitted with satellite tag #348 and was released on 4th May. Turtle-dove Virginijus was fitted with satellite tag #349 and released on 5th May.

Following her release, the first Turtle-dove travelled to Gozo where she spent the night. Satellite transmission went dead immediately next morning. Marija’s last position was registered from Gozo at 7:15am. Given reports of illegal hunting on Gozo received from the same day, we very much fear she was illegally shot down before she could continue her journey further north.

The other two satellite-tagged Turtle-doves, Hope and Virginijus, immediately took off on their migratory journeys. One reached Sicily by 11pm on the same day, whilst the other reached Sicily two days later!

We continue to follow them in earnest to see where they will settle for the breeding season!

You too can follow the migratory journeys of these two Turtle-doves along with that of Francesco, who was satellite-tagged in 2017, on a live map developed by our partners NABU (BirdLife Germany).

To read more about our Turtle-dove satellite-tagging project visit here.

Footage by BirdLife Malta, editing by Nathaniel Attard.

Yelkouan shearwater chick hatched, Malta video

This 21 May 2020 video from Malta says about itself

Early May is the peak time in the Yelkouan breeding season for hatching and many new faces have emerged in the colonies over the past couple of weeks.

The Yelkouan Shearwater chicks first enter the world damp and fragile, but soon dry off to reveal their grey downy coat which will keep them warm until they grow their flight feathers. In the first few days of its life, the parents are very attentive to ensure survival of the chick, at least one parent will remain with the chick to brood it whilst it continues to develop.

By the end of the first week, the chick is left to fend for itself, whilst the parents forage for food. The chick is provided with a meal at least once each night. Foraging trips during early chick-rearing are shorter, so the adults can return more frequently to feed the demanding chick.

Editing by Katarzyna Pacon.

Birds in nature reserve in Malta

This 11 May 2020 video says about itself:

Birds at Salina Nature Reserve this spring

Here is a short video edit with footage of different birds we’ve observed at Salina since the start of spring. The video includes shots of different species such as Ruff, Grey Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Barn Swallow and Yellow Wagtail.

At the moment we are making an extra effort to share photos and footage of flora and fauna at our reserves since unfortunately these natural sites are closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope it won’t be long before we can all start to go out again to enjoy the beauty of nature in spring!

Footage by Manuel Mallia, editing by Nathaniel Attard.

Recovered black kite freed in Malta

This 2 May 2020 video says about itself:

This Black Kite was recovered on the 24th March 2020 from Żebbuġ in Gozo. It was found by the Gozo Police following a report made by a member of the public. The bird was handed over to BirdLife Malta and eventually taken to the government veterinarian to be examined. Fortunately, it was just exhausted from its migration journey and had no other injuries.

Following a couple of weeks with BirdLife Malta during which it regained its strength, the protected bird of prey was ready to be released. Black Kites are highly-prized illegal hunting targets so we took it to Comino, a protected bird sanctuary, to release it there so that it could hopefully continue with its migration safely. The raptor was ringed prior to being released.

Black Kites (Astun Iswed in Maltese) are regular migrants, both in spring and autumn, although more common during the autumn. In spring they are seen in March and April.

Footage by BirdLife Malta. Editing by Nathaniel Attard.