Sunday, February 28, 2010

High hopes...

Yesterday afternoon a handful of lucky birders witnessed quite a good passage of Pintails of over 400 birds noted. So this morning so me even earlier up from bed hoping that yesterday's passage would continue and reach a peak today...
On arriving at Cirkewwa nothing had been seen yet but a Marsh harrier. No ducks though...for now we still scanned the sea eagerly a Nothern gannet providing some distraction from the frustration.
Finally someone spotted a small flock of Pintails, 8 males and 7 females which altough did not quite make up for the lack of numbers gave satisfactory views. In fact they were only followed by another 2 Pintails.
To add to the list were 2 House martins coming in fromt the sea, a few Yelkoan shearwaters, 150+ Cory's shearwaters following a trawler, 2 Med gulls, 2 Sandwhich terns, 2 Dunnocks calling from the tamarisk trees and a Spectacled warbler male.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

With the full moon...

Full moon in Febuary sends maltese birders to a different location for seawatching in the northern most tip of Malta overlooking the channel between Malta and the two other islands Gozo and Comino, to watch migrating wild ducks. That's were we went today, arriving just too late for two flocks of Pintails. At first scanning the sea only produced cory's shearwaters until a flock of 25 Pintails were spotted. After a lot of circling around and settling on the sea they came rather close and we could identify a male shovler in amongst the rest. So two more duck species to my yearlist. Two Yelkouan shearwaters passed by low over the waves and an adult Med gull setlled on the rocks beneath us as another passed furhter out at sea.
Decided to take a walk in search of Hoopoe and Northern Wheatear of which the first individuals have arrived. We had no luck though. 9 Skylarks part of the small migration of this species today, as well as a song thrush and a singing Corn Bunting heard in the distance.
Popped into Ghadira before going home with very little about. Only my first Little ringed plover of the year was of note.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some more seawatching

A poor shot of the local male Black redstart

Another windy and rainy day so it was off to Qawra again. It is a public holiday just in case someone was wondering if Iwas skiving school... ;)

Anyway much the same birds seen as last time plus a few Yelkoaun shearwaters bringing my year list up to 42. Enjoyed good views of yet another Lesser Black-backed gull, an intermedius this time. As well as two or three Northern Gannets, 3 Sandwhich terns one taking ages to gobble up a fish or wathever its catch was and 5 Black-headed Gulls. Also nt to forget to write down was a Common Kestrel, most probably a migrant, mobbed by the ever present Yello-legged gulls.

Popped into Simar Nature Reserve afterwards hoping to see a wild Mallard (no it isn't a mistake, wild Mallards are rather scarce in Malta only seen occasionly from sewatches or in the reserves) that had been sighted yesterday. But no luck. Rather quiet with compensation only to be had by two truly beautiful breeding plumaged Little grebes, no chicks out yet though, as well as two winter plumaged, eight Coots and two House Martins reminding us that Spring is just round the corner or very close anyway.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Seawatching in between the showers

A cold blustery morning saw us huddled on a bench at Qawra promenade scanning the sea for anything that would turn up. A dozen or so Black-headed gulls struggling in the wind as well as a smaller number of Sandwhich terns flying by. Not long after arriving I spotted two larger birds, coming head on i first tought they were Cormorants but no, even better, they turned out to be Northern Gannets an adult and an immature. Unfortunatly it then started pouring, up came umbrellas and raincoats, trying to peak through the scope didn't give much more than a wall of rain. Three Black redstarts amongst them the local male and two Stonechats continued to feed and cahse each other in the rain tough providing some consolation. With short pauses in between the rain continued much of the time and only Yellow-legged gulls and occasinal Sandwhich terns were to be seen. All the same just before leaving we got our reward for our patience, an adult Lesser-blacked Back gull graelssi over head, both a Malta tick for me and my sister and our first graellsii sub-species.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


As spring is approaching so is one of the highlights on every maltese's birdwatcher calendar: Spring Migration! For two years in a row this was a more enjoyable experienced due to banned spring hunting, both for us and even more for the birds! However this year its obscured by the renewed debate that spring hunting will yet again be opened on Turtle doves and Quail, at the same time offering a loop hole for may more species.
This cannot be accepted! So please sign the petition below and encourage friends to do likewise!

Many thanks :)