First successful breeding of Storm-petrel in Malta, says BirdLife

Researchers from BirdLife's LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija project have confirmed the breeding of the first Mediterranean Storm-petrel in Mellieha

The first ever Mediterranean Storm-petrel to be ringed as a nestling at L-Irdum tal- Madonna. (Photo: Martin Austad)
The first ever Mediterranean Storm-petrel to be ringed as a nestling at L-Irdum tal- Madonna. (Photo: Martin Austad)

Researchers confirmed the first successful breeding of the Mediterranean Storm-petrel (Kangu ta’ Filfla) in Malta, at L-Irdum tal-Madonna in Mellieha.

The small seabird species is known to breed on the islet of Filfla and in a few sea caves in Gozo, but has been confirmed breeding in Mellieha, following the “fledging of a chick in 2016 and the ringing of a nestling, which hatched this year”. 

Birdlife has undertaken 11 years of rat control in the area, initially implemented as part of the LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project, to combat the threat of predation particularly by black rats, on the eggs and nestlings of vulnerable species.

L-Irdum tal-Madonnaisoneofthefewplaceswhereallthreeseabirdspecies (Scopoli’s Shearwater, Yelkouan Shearwater and Storm-petrel) nest simultaneously in the Maltese Islands. (Photo: Paulo Lago)
L-Irdum tal-Madonnaisoneofthefewplaceswhereallthreeseabirdspecies (Scopoli’s Shearwater, Yelkouan Shearwater and Storm-petrel) nest simultaneously in the Maltese Islands. (Photo: Paulo Lago)

The site still hosts the “largest Yelkouan Shearwater (Garnija) colony in the Maltese islands” and nesting success has been increased to over 80%, they added.

The addition of the breeding of Mediterranean Storm-petrels demonstrated, said Birdlife, that over the years, “these methods can enhance biodiversity and benefit a wider part of the ecosystem”.

The adult Mediterranean Storm-petrel incubating its egg at L-Irdum tal-Madonna, free from the threats of rats (Photo: Martin Austad)
The adult Mediterranean Storm-petrel incubating its egg at L-Irdum tal-Madonna, free from the threats of rats (Photo: Martin Austad)

Birdlife confirmed that “on-site rat action controls” will be expanded and continued to other sites as part of their ongoing LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija, to allow for the breeding of more Storm-petrels and the “benefit” of other seabird colonies.

The NGO called on the public to “refrain from littering” so as to reduce feeding opportunities for rats, especially in remote areas, such as L-Ahrax tal-Mellieha.

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