Simar Nature Reserve

 Is-Simar Nature Reserve / ARaine 

Two nature reserves run by BirdLife Malta are Ghadira at Mellieha Bay and Is-Simar at Xemxija Bay.

Ghadira is an open saltmarsh that mostly attracts waders from March to September, egrets and herons in spring and autumn and small numbers of waterfowl in autumn and winter. Occasionally, a few Eurasian Spoonbills and Greater Flamingoes stay in the reserve and Little Ringed Plovers breed. A trio of Marbled Ducks and a Broad-billed Sandpiper were recent highlights at the reserve.


Is-Simar is a brackish marshland dominated by reedbeds.  In spring and autumn it attracts egrets and herons, while waterfowl are more common in autumn and winter. Bitterns are occasionally seen in spring, and the site is also noted for wintering Moustached Warblers. This is the only site in Malta where Reed Warbler breeds annually, while Little Bittern and Little Grebe have also bred here in recent years.

Comino Channel is the hotspot for migrating waterfowl in spring. Best observation posts are at the northwestern tip of Malta along the coastal area from Qammieh to Cirkewwa. Wild ducks mainly pass through from mid-February till early April, with Garganey, Pintail, Shoveler and Ferruginous Duck being the most common. Among a long list of other birds that can be observed in this area are flocks of Curlews, Glossy Ibis, Little Egrets, Purple and Grey Herons and Sandwich Terns.  Short-eared Owls can be seen here as well.


The ridges and high cliffs in the western side of Malta are ideal for observing migrating raptors in autumn. A key site for raptor watching is Buskett, where Birdlife Malta organises a Raptor Camp in September and October. Migrating flocks of Honey Buzzards and Marsh Harriers are observed, some of which roost in the woodlands at Buskett.  Other raptors include Osprey, Black Kite, Montagu’s Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common and Lesser Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, and Eleonora’s Falcon. Lesser Spotted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle are also occasionally seen and there are recent records of rarer species such as Egyptian Vulture and Red Kite. Other birds observed include the occasional White Stork, Black Stork, large flocks of European Bee-eaters and sometimes a few European Rollers.

 Rdum tal-Madonna
       Rdum tal-Madonna / ARaine

The eastern coast of Malta is one of the best places for sea-watching in autumn. From headlands such as L-Ahrax (now the focus of the "LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project"), Qawra, Pembroke and M’scala, the migration of various species of birds can be observed. With the right conditions one can see flocks of ducks and grebes, cormorants, herons and egrets, gulls, terns and waders. Greater Flamingoes, Eurasian Spoonbills and Pomarine Skuas are not uncommon while a few Short-eared Owls often fly inland.  Raptors are observed arriving, flying low over the waves.  Cory’s Shearwaters are easy to see in summer, sometimes up to a few thousand, along with good numbers of Yelkouan Shearwaters and the occasional European Storm-Petrel.


Comino is a small rocky island, designated as a Bird Sanctuary and Important Bird Area (IBA) that attracts a good number of migratory birds, particularly passerines.  Specialities include Blue Rock Thrushes and Black-eared Wheatears, while large falls of Common Whitethroats, Garden and Icterine Warblers, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, and Woodchat Shrikes can occur on some days in spring.  Semi-collared Flycatcher, Rufous Bush Robin and Barred Warbler have also been recorded recently on Comino. BirdLife Malta runs a bird observatory and ringing station on the island, which is active during spring and autumn migration.

The island of Gozo is mostly characterised by spectacular sheer cliffs, especially to the southwest, and these can be best viewed from Ta’ Cenc. These cliffs are home to large number of breeding Cory’s Shearwaters, which can be heard calling in summer on moonless nights. Ta’ Cenc also holds a few breeding pairs of Spectacled Warblers, Corn Buntings and Blue Rock Thrushes and it is also a good observation place during migration.  

Last Updated on Friday, 25 April 2008, 8:12:14 PM