Much of the Park’s landscape is now dry, brown and seemingly barren. However wildlife can still be found. A walk in June is always greeted by the song of a small bird singing high up in the sky – the Short-toed Lark (Bilbla). Their song can be heard practically in all areas of the Park. These birds are migrants – they come here to nest, and after the breeding season return back to Africa. Their nests are very vulnerable as they are constructed on the ground. Another bird that cannot be missed is the Blue Rock Thrush (Merill), either heard singing, seen flying or sitting, especially in the cliff areas where they nest. The male’s bluish plumage often strikes with its surrounding, but sometimes it is fairly camouflaged.
Two other breeding resident birds are the Zitting Cisticola (Bufula tal-Imrewħa) and the Spectacled Warbler (Bufula Ħamra). Both nest in low vegetation. The Zitting Cisticola gives away its presence by its “zip-zip-zip…” calls while in flight or sitting, and the less common Spectacled Warbler engages in an aerial song flight in its breeding territory.
More birdlife to be enjoyed in June at the Park are the other breeding residents – the Sardinian Warbler (Bufula Sewda), Spanish Sparrow (Għasfur tal-Bejt), Tree Sparrow (Għasfur tas-Siġar) and Collared Dove (Gamiema tal-Kullar), the latter two species confined mainly to the visitor centre area.
Mediterranean Thyme (Thymbra capitata , Maltese: Saghtar) / Photo by Majjistral Park
The plant life at the Park is also interesting in these months. The Maltese Spurge (Tengħud tax-Xagħri) has by now taken its bronze colour and preparing for the summer dormancy as it drops its leaves. On the other hand the Mediterranean Thyme (Saghtar) is now starting to flower, and soon will turn patches of the Park in violet colour.
Wolfbane shrubs are full of fruits, resembling a pair of horns. These open up and release their silk-tufted seeds. Their Maltese name Siġra tal-Ħarir actually comes from these silken-like hairs of the seeds that can cover much of the shrub. Yellow small flowers of the Thyme-leaved Sun Rose cannot be missed, a small shrub that is common at Majjistral. Larger shrubs of the Honeysuckle are also with flowers, followed by orange berries. Mallow Bindweeds trail along the ground, showing off their purplish flowers. Silvery shrubs of the Olive-leaved Bindweed are also other plants with flowers that can be also seen at this time of the year. Tiny and inconspicuous are endemic Maltese Dwarf Garlic (Tewm Irqiq ta’ Malta), while the Purple Garlic (Tewm Vjola) has a somewhat more conspicuous red flower heads.
The Painted Lady (Farfett tax-Xewk) can be observed on the flowers of the thyme looking for nectar to drink. This butterfly has been recorded in almost all months at the Park. The Wall Brown (Kannella tax-Xemx) basks on the rocks or on the ground. Smaller and less conspicuous are the Common Blue Butterflies (Farfett tal-Anġlu), often flying erratically and seemingly never to land. Along the trails one can also notice the white snails known by their scientific name as Sphincterochila candidissima (Bebbuxa Bajda).
When you visit the Park walk along the trails and do not trample. Do not leave litter behind. If you come with your pet dog please keep it on a leash, especially at this time of the year when birds are nesting. Thank you.
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