A species last recorded in Malta 50 years ago has been among a number of rare birds sighted by birdwatchers as the spring migration went into full swing.

At this time of year, birds leave their wintering grounds in Africa to migrate north and breed in Europe.

The rare sightings were first recorded when two separate immature White-crowned Wheatears (Kuda Rasha Bajda) were spotted, one at Ħal Far and the other in Dwejra, Gozo, BirdLife told Times of Malta.

It was only the third and fourth time that the species, which breeds mainly in the Sahara Desert, has ever been recorded in the Maltese islands, the NGO said.

A flock of six Collared Pratincoles (Perniċjotta) made the Malta International Airport their home for a couple of days.

Birdwatchers spotted them feeding on insects and resting along the runway.

These are scarce spring migrants and are usually seen in singles, so the flock was unusual.

Another rare sighting was of the Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin, also known as Rufous Bush Chat or Rożinjol tax-Xagħri, recorded in the south of the island last month.

Yet, the highlight so far has been the sighting of the Temminck’s Lark (Alwetta tal-Qrun) which was noticed a few metres away from the Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin.

It is only the fifth record of this bird in the island, the previous one sighted in 1971.

This bird breeds in North Africa and is mainly a sedentary and nomadic species, breeding in desert-like lowlands.

BirdLife Malta’s #onthemove campaign showcases the beauty of the bird migration spectacle during the springtime.

Edward Bonavia, secretary of the Malta Rarities and Records Committee, said these birds had drifted to the island on the strong southeasterly wind prevalent a few days ago.

“The overcast conditions that accompanied this particular wind grounded these rare species among other more frequent bird species we have at this time of the year,” Bonavia said.

“Such birds disperse from their usual range through accidental migratory movements.”

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

Support Us