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

Reserve Warden, Alex Casha, said: "We initially wanted to keep quiet about the presence of the bird, as 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."

"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 has decided that the best protection for the bird while it continues to reside in the Nature Reserve is for as many people as possible to know it is there and for local residents to help by keeping an eye and ear out for any suspicious activity in the area."

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

Spoonbills are infrequent visitors to the Maltese Islands on migration.

BirdLife said that it has received numerous reports of continued illegal shooting all around the islands since the end of the hunting season on Tuesday.

The nature reserve is open between 10.30am to 4.30pm, Saturday and Sunday.