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Malaysian Raptors and Maltese Grebes

Annual Malaysian Raptor Watch

The Malaysian Nature Society (BirdLife in Malaysia) is holding its annual Raptor Watch event this weekend to promote conservation of birds of prey and their habitats. Held on every first weekend of March near one of Malaysia’s last remaining patches of coastal forest, Raptor Watch is the country's only nature-related public event conducted on a large scale. The event will take place from 4-5 March in Tanjung Tuan Important Bird Area (IBA). During the spring migration thousands of raptors can be seen flying across the Straits of Melaka, giving exceptional views as they pass low over the site.

Despite being an IBA, Tanjung Tuan faces very real threats from development. The sea front of Tanjung Tuan is expensive real estate, and as Tanjung Tuan is an extension of the Port Dickson holiday coasts, its value for tourism is high. For many years local authorities have been drawing up plans to develop the area, with the Malaysian Nature Society in turn working hard to keep Tanjung Tuan intact.Tanjung Tuan is of prime importance for its migratory raptors, forming a vital stopover site after the birds have crossed the Straits of Melaka. For raptors arriving late in the evening, it provides shelter for the night before they take off the next day. Without Tanjung Tuan, many raptors would perhaps never make it back, due to exhaustion and lack of food. However, the area is also important for its surrounding marine life and its forest growth. Tanjung Tuan act as a gene bank for tropical timber trees and its waters are rich with coral and sea-grass, both important for the turtles that nest in the area's secluded beaches.

For more information visit www.raptorwatch.orgNew breeding species for Malta

BirdLife Malta has confirmed the first breeding record of Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis in the Maltese Islands. The nest was discovered on 10 Febraury at Simar Nature Reserve by BirdLife Malta council member Raymond Galea. The news was not entirely unexpected, as a pair of Little Grebes had been observed displaying courtship behaviour and carrying nest material at the site for a number of weeks. The nest itself is situated in the reserve's dense reedbed, making it difficult to observe. However, three chicks were seen climbing onto the nest soon after its discovery.Little Grebe is an annual winter visitor to the Maltese Islands and frequents both nature reserves managed by BirdLife Malta - Ghadira and Simar. It is a secretive and shy bird and rarely ventures out on open water. This breeding record is another success for BirdLife Malta, who started works on Simar in 1992. The site was abandoned and used as a rubbish tip and sewage outflow, and initially there was opposition to the project by locals. However, the new breeding species is further evidence that degraded land can be rehabilitated back to a rich natural state. Since BirdLife Malta started managing the site, Little Bittern, Reed Warbler and Moorhen have also bred in the area, and at Ghadira, Little Ringed Plover has also established itself as a regular breeding bird.

4th July 2014