Break in at Għadira, popular resident Flamingoes gone - BirdLife

Warden noticed signs of forced entry into the reserve • Qawra district police investigating

The two resident Greater Flamingoes have gone missing
The two resident Greater Flamingoes have gone missing
Police investigate break-in at Ghadira nature reserve
Police investigate break-in at Ghadira nature reserve

BirdLife Malta has this morning called the attention of the police after Għadira Nature Reserve warden noticed signs of forced entry into the reserve. The Qawra District Police are still investigating the case while two Greater Flamingoes which had been resident at the Għadira Nature Reserve since September have overnight also disappeared.

The absence of the two resident flamingoes was noted around 6:30am this morning, triggering wardens to carry out a routine inspection of the reserve to ascertain their whereabouts. Signs of forced entry were subsequently found including a trampled vegetation, foot marks leading up to raised fence and a 3-metre wooden plank which could have been used to gain access. Qawra District Police were immediately called to the scene and inspected the reserve and its perimeter looking for other evidence.

The whereabouts of the two juvenile Greater Flamingoes which had been resident at the Għadira Nature Reserve since early September last year are in the meantime unknown.

The birds had been very popular with visitors to the reserve, ever since they had been rescued after being stranded from migrating flocks last Summer. The first had landed amongst swimmers at Paradise Bay on 1st September, while the second had landed exhausted at a residence in Birzebbuga on 10th September. The pair had become stable residents at Għadira Nature reserve, feeding in the lagoon and slowly gaining their transformation from grey juveniles to pink adults. Inseparable since their arrival, the two flamingoes were a mainstay attraction to reserve visitors, often seen feeding and roosting together, as well as  giving a spectacle as they flew around the reserve.

Commenting on the events, Nature Reserves Manager Mark Gauci said, “The circumstances leading to their sudden disappearance is one which brings memories of past incidents. Having been residents at the reserve for so many months, it is highly unlikely these two inexperienced birds chose a stormy windy night to venture out at sea or migrate.”

The flamingo pair was last seen yesterday evening, as weather conditions over the night worsened to torrential rain and gale-force winds. Throughout their stay the flamingoes had become quite used to the regular visitors to the reserve, and were unbothered by the hustle and bustle of the nearby beach.

Conservation Manager Nicholas Barbara added, “The incentive to add these birds to collections is one that still haunts us to this day. While we do our best to rescue and conserve such rare occurrences, we cannot discount the fact that others are still intent at harming such efforts, at time recurring to organized criminal activity”.

BirdLife Malta is appealing to members of the public for any information on the flamingoes’ whereabouts or about the Għadira incident to contact the police on 119 or BirdLife Malta on 2134 7644.

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