A rare spoonbill has been seen at Għadira Nature Reserve since Thursday, Birdlife Malta said yesterday.

Reserve warden Alex Casha admitted the organisation initially wanted to keep quiet about the bird’s presence in Malta.

“Past experience has shown us that if poachers know birds like this are here, they will not hesitate to break into the reserve at night to try to kill them,” he said.

But now that the spoonbill has been at the reserve for several days it is highly likely that word will have spread and the poachers will know about it.

Birdlife said it decided that the best protection for the bird while it continues to reside in the reserve is to alert as many people as possible about its presence and for local residents to help keep an eye and ear out for any suspicious activity in the area.

The reserve is already protected by a security guard outside opening hours and throughout the night.

Spoonbills are infrequent visitors to Malta on migration, making them highly prized by poachers.

Birdlife said it has received numerous reports of continued illegal shooting around the islands since the end of the disputed spring hunting season on Tuesday, which adds to concern for the safety of this bird.

Anyone wanting to see the spoonbill is encouraged to visit Għadira Nature Reserve during public opening hours between 10.30am and 4.30pm today.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us