A new promising season on board

The second field season of the Seabird Project started in March. The Seabird team consisted of the head researchers, the research assistants and the interns undertakes to do based boat observations at open sea, ring Yelkouan Shearwaters and put GPS on them in one of the colonies. The members of the team split up the different tasks and the employees are now carrying out the 14 transects of April.

Until now the team has had the opportunity to see many different species. Mainly we saw large flocks of Cory’s Shearwaters, one of the target species of the study. We also counted Yelkouan Sherwaters, a well-known species for Birdlife Malta’s workers, that finished the LIFE  Project about this endangered bird 3 years ago. Still not many traces of the third study species, the mysterious, elusive and gorgeous European Storm Petrel, but the possibility to see the smallest tube-nose seabird is likely to increase during the season.

Cory's Shearwater boat based observation

Scopoli’s Shearwater flying above the waves. Photo by Maria De Filippo

Every day we spotted some exciting birds, such as Gannets and Skuas, Little Egrets and Herons, and birds of prey such as Marsh Harriers and Short-eared Owls. Other common migrants such as Barn Swallows, Swifts, Race Pigeons and passerine spp., always crossed our route, flying fast in the sky and breaking the horizon.

Marine mammals and big fish early made their appearance. A large pod of Stripped Dolphins swam for few minutes following us, skirting the boat and performing acrobatic exhibitions, as a proof of their common breaching behaviour. We didn’t miss the chance to see the other three species of Delphinidae that dwell this waters, such as Bottlenose, Common Short-beaked and Risso’s Dolphins. Swordifish jumped energetically out of the water meanwhile sunfish and sharks remained hidden under the surface, showing just their fins and lurking from unexperienced eyes.

With calm sea, one day the boat was surronded by more than fifty Loggerhead Turtles along the transects, that showed their attractive carapace. Some people volunteered with us and had the opportunity to experience a glimpse of what those rich waters offer. The transects continue during this month and the following ones, and the team is ready to spot many other interesting species and share with you the next sightings !

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