[Dora Querido brings us news of an interesting find in Malta]

What are we talking about? A Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) - the Mediterranean Cory’s shearwater that was recognized as a different species in November last year.

Where? In the southern cliffs of Malta, Hal-Far area.


Scopoli's shearwater (Ben Metzger)

When? Last week, 7 of August 2013.

How was it found out? The LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project, lead by BirdLife Malta, is retrieving geolocators from Scopoli’s shearwater and found this female ringed 28 year ago!


Fieldworker with shearwater (Ben Metzger)

Why 30 years at least? Because back in 1985 this bird was already ringed as a breeding adult and the ecology of the species tell us that female Cory’s shearwaters take 5 to 6 years to reach maturity. Most likely this bird is at least 33/34 years old. However, if in areas of persecution, birds can breed earlier as there will be more nest space available, the earliest scenario being two summer after hatching.

Is it a record? For Malta, yes. The previous oldest records known were 22, 21 and 20 years after been ringed.

What is the oldest bird of similar species? A 50 year-old Manx shearwater recorded in Lleyn peninsula, north Wales in 2002. Or a 53 years-old royal albatross in New Zealand.

What is the project trying to achieve? It aims to identify important feeding areas for seabirds in Malta so they can be protected under the designation of marine Special Protection Areas (SPAs).  

How is the project going? Extremely well!

How so? Last year was the first field season and it was a success - we had more then 200 contact points from 23 storm petrels tagged using radio tracking technology (see more here). We deployed a total of 57 GPS data loggers on Yelkuan and Scopoli’s shearwaters. We also deployed 9 geolocators last year on Scopoli’s shearwaters and we have already retrieved all of them - it’s truly remarkable!

Wow, that's lucky! Yes and no. We do have a tireless fieldwork team doing an outstanding job. Actually, they could use some help.

What do you mean? We have a call for volunteers: 14 days on a yacht doing bird and cetacean observations until October. Interested? (find out more here) ... and don’t forget, you can follow the project on Facebook).