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Observing Shearwaters by Boat in Malta

18 July 2014

Last week I had the opportunity to take a breathtaking boat trip to Ta’ Ċenċ in Gozo where BirdLife Malta organized a boat trip. Here we could witness beautiful seabirds flying across the Mediterranean Sea. The location is identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) since its steep and rugged cliffs support between 800-1000 breeding pairs of Scopoli's Shearwaters. 

The Scopoli Shearwater is incredibly beautiful. The seabirds have brownish-grey feathers to the front, while underneath is typically white with a yellowish bill.  It feeds on fish, molluscs and offal and can dive deep down into the sea, up to 15 metres or more, in search of its prey.

The Scopoli Shearwater has some curious habits. Shearwaters breed in the cliffs of Malta and Gozo, at night they all collect together and form rafts, where they wait until sun sets, and then fly off to roost in the cliffs at night time.The main reason these birds are mostly seen around Ta' Ċenċ cliffs is that they nest on open ground, among rocks and burrows where only one solitary egg is laid.

One of BirdLife Malta’s conservation projects at the moment is to research the Scopoli and Yelkouan shearwater habits, habitats and emigration patterns in and around the Maltese Islands. Here is Jack, a Yelkouan Shearwater chick who was born in a nestbox 

 

 

It was one day that I will find hard to forget. I was really impressed by the birds, especially the way they live and how beautiful they are. Another boat trip is being organized on the 2nd of August and this will be open to the public. Opportunities like this are rare. Don’t miss out!

Author: Sabine Jung


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