Saturday, 25 June 2011

Qormi - Citta Pinto - Malta

Summer is's the time when village feasts make Malta look brighter and absolutely more fun. This week it's Qormi's turn, also referred to as Citta Pinto. A whole week of celebrations dedicated to one of the two major feasts in Qomri, St. George. I have to admit that since I grew up in this area and speak about Qormi with a passion! The core of the village is pretty all year round. Wooden balconies, enormous flags, bells ringing, fireworks and village gossip are characteristics that make Qormi a typical Mediterranean village. 

The other feast celebrated in Qormi is the feast of St. Sebastian, which is celebrated three weeks after that of St. George. Local band clubs compete against each other and rivalry can become an issue. Policeman usually have a tough time during village feasts controlling the cheerful crowds walking behind the patron saint.  If you're planning to come to Malta in summer, you must not miss going to a village festas. There's one or more occurring each and every week. It's the best way to meet the locals and don't forget...taste local foods such as Kinnie and Twistees :) 

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Migration of Raptors

Honey Buzzard
Raptors are the apex species in the Aves group and are quite challenging to identify. Their mastery of flight and habit of migrating in large numbers from known watch points has long fascinated humans. For this reason; they have arguably become the most monitored group of birds and therefore attract a huge interest from birders all around the world.

Malta lies along one of the three migrating routes for raptors in the Mediterranean and it is used as a stepping stone from Europe to Africa and vice versa.

The highest number of raptors are observed in autumn. The most abundant being Marsh Harrier, Honey Buzzard, Osprey, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel and Hobby but can also include Short- toed Eagle, Black Kite, Montagu's and Pallid Harriers, Common and Steppe Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and Eleonora's Falcon. Rarer species also occur which can include Egyptian Vulture, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Saker, Merlin and Red- footed Falcon (which is common in spring).

Late afternoon is the best time to observe the birds as they start to lower to find a suitable roosting place. This makes it an ideal time to spot and have good views of the raptors. 

Off course other birds can be observed. Some of the most evident birds are Bee-eaters, Turtle Dove, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, various hirundines and swifts and Wheatears. Various flocks of herons can be observed as well as the rarer Black Stork. Depending on various factors; such as weather and timing, a multitude of various migrants can be observed.

Photo by Christopher Cachia Zammit
Information contributed by Michael Sammut and Christopher Cachia Zammit

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Lunar Eclipse in Malta

At the moment the moon is in the dark!

The eclipse was also visible from Malta :)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Summer is here! What to do in Malta when on holiday

The weather can't be better. Tourists who come to Malta at this time of the year have the opportunity to enjoy the sun and sea but also enjoy other activities as it is still quite cool. In the morning, outdoor activities are simply great. Our eco tours can show you the very best of the islands... nature, agriculture, and traditional food. 

Some prefer walking while others opt for more comfortable ways to tour around Malta. There is always something exciting going on in Malta. Visiting villages, swimming in secluded beaches and relaxing at magnificent view points are some of the activities included in an eco tour. Wildlife photographers can feast their eyes and spoil themselves taking close ups of the wide variety of local flora. 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Wild Thyme turns landscape purple

Wild thyme dominates some of the garigue habitat in Malta, Gozo and Comino. It spreads all around an ecosystem that looks barren and yet is very rich in biodiversity. The sun and sea are valid reasons to come to Malta. How about visiting the islands to enjoy nature? Yes we do have nature here in Malta. The diving industry has been going strong for years. Activities on land are picking up and since we started up Merill Eco Tours people ask us, "but what can one do on barren land". Our answer would be "Believe us, there is so much we can offer!!"

For those nature lovers who want to experience the heart of the Mediterranean, I strongly suggest you follow one of our eco tours! The way the nature merges with history and traditions is amazing. The photos in this post portray Wild Thyme, an aromatic herb. Bees forage on such plants to create excellent honey. Walking is not the only activity one can do and let's face it...we won't be doing ecotourism if we would organise just walks! Ecotourism is about conservation and bringing about positive experiences even for the hosts, in this case the farmers, who are always pleased to accept us on their land to directly witness their passion.

We are offering packages with fresh ideas for various tourism sectors. Do not hesitate to contact us on for further details.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Around villages in Malta

Balcony in Mosta

chapel in Rabat

Bar in Rabat

Chapel in Zejtun

Monday, 6 June 2011

Marsaxlokk, Malta

Fresh air, colourful boats (Luzzu), village people chatting...Marsaxlokk is still one of the most beautiful locations in the south of Malta.

Cast iron features in Malta

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Hidden treasures in Malta and Gozo

Romeo Romano Garden - Santa Venera
Today I happened to visit a garden that is right in the middle of Santa Venera, an urban area in Malta. This locality together with Hamrun, Qormi and Birkirkara are villages that have merged into one big city. Traffic is quite chaotic in main roads, from early morning till late afternoon.

To breath some fresh air and enjoy the chirping of birds...I strongly recommend you visit one of the many gardens around Malta and Gozo. Most of them are pretty landscaped patches in the heart of villages, while others are unfortunately quite abandoned.

Our eco tours often feature gardens depending on the nature of the tour. Guests might have a particular interest in botany, and therefore gardens with a wide variety of endemic species are chosen.

Others might be interested in gardens for their intrinsic historical background and architecture. That is where we're spoiled for choice since the most important gardens have been established by the Knights of St. John. We're so lucky  to  have such treasures that we feel obliged to give them due importance during our tours. 

Counting the sheep!

R. Blundell, Reintroduction of sheep and goats in Malta, 1994 - Click here to view CIHEAM paper

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Gifts of nature!

the first one of 5 ducklings

Ducklings and chicks sharing the same nest 

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