BirdLife Malta today hosted Environment Minister Leo Brincat at the Ghadira Nature Reserve for a birthday activity to celebrate the hatching of seven Black-winged Stilt chicks earlier this month.
Other guests included diplomats from Australia, the Netherlands, and Italy, as well as representatives of MEPA, the AFM and various NGOs including the FKNK.
They could admire the young stilts paddling, eating, swimming and playing in the shallow water of the reserve. For many of those present, this was the first time they had ever seen Black-winged Stilts, let alone seeing recently hatched chicks in the wild, in Malta, in the place where they had hatched and will (hopefully) one day return to breed themselves, Birdlife said.
Steve Micklewright, BirdLife Malta’s Executive Director, said: “This is a truly special occasion, and not just for BirdLife Malta, but for conservation in Malta in general, because it shows what can be achieved when conservationists work together with governments and other institutions for the benefit of nature and wildlife.”
In 2011, Black-winged Stilts bred in Malta for the first time on record, with a single pair successfully rearing four chicks here at Għadira. This year there were two successful nests out of three pairs nesting in the wetland.
But, Birdlife said it was worried that the birds will start running out of space inside the reserve.
“In another two years we expect at least some of this year’s fledglings to return as adults looking for somewhere to breed: Black-winged Stilts are quite territorial and need a certain amount of space to pair up and nest,” said Mr Micklewright, “fortunately, we have a couple of years to work on solving that problem, and together with the government we have already started looking at potential solutions.”
The Għadira wetland will be open to visitors this Saturday and Sunday only from 8.30am to 10.30am free of charge. There will be organising guided walks, including a Black-winged Stilt-watching activity in the bird-watching hide.
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Other activities being organised for the stilts’ birthday weekend include: a kids colouring and art workshop, and a special screening of a new video, “The Breeding Birds of Għadira”.
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