The reserve managers had already been thinking this was the case, and in 2017 started using special gates and electric fences to keep mammalian predators from depredating godwit nests. First stop was at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve Trimley Marshes, where head-started godwits Fenn and Tipps have both been seen. A good start to 2020! We also have a small, vulnerable breeding population, on a select few wet meadows and marshes. Bar-tailed Godwits are quite large waders, with females being bigger than males. It’s great to learn that these birds are continuing to do well after their release. The second day of the challenge took Jen and Mark to Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve in Hampshire. It basically kills the invasive grasses, and most of the plants that like salt are native plants. “The batteries should last for about 300 hours of transmission time and last year we had about 600 hours of transmission time,” says Battley. To find out more about becoming a Godwit Guardian you can visit our webpage here. To Prince Godwits migrate because it is too cold to winter over in Alaska. Contaminated material in the soil was put in a mound and capped with layers of gravel and silt, then topsoil and mulch so it could be planted up. And now there are no more plans to do further transmitter work, as funding provided by the Packard Foundation for godwit research has run out. “The permafrost melts, so all of the mosquitoes and other insects are in huge abundance; there are amazing food supplies for them. If you think you have seen a godwit with a lime leg ring, stamped with the letter E, you can let us know about it here. According to legend, it even gave the first voyagers to Aotearoa from Polynesia the idea that there was something down south worth travelling towards: they kept seeing it hurtling past once a year, as if it had somewhere definite to go and wasn’t going to stop till it got there. 2006. Subscribe to our free newsletter for news and prizes, Shorebirds of New Zealand: Sharing the Margins. There isn’t enough food around to feed everybody plus feed two-to-four new mouths when all the eggs hatch at the same time. This female was observed breeding at the Nene Washes again this year. Although not in the UK, Cloud was spotted in the Netherlands near Westkapelle in May. Just past Ferrymead there’s a marshy area of 20 ha to the left: once a horse paddock, it’s now the Charlesworth Wetland Reserve. It has been name-checked, famously, in Charles Brasch’s poem The Islands. In a Proceedings of the Royal Society paper, Gill, Battley and eight other authors state that in 2007 a female godwit unceremoniously named E7 flew 11,680 km from Alaska to New Zealand without stopping, easily exceeding the previous official record of 6500 km, flown by far eastern curlews. “I’ve known him for more than 10 years. The pair have met up each spring for the last three years. Everything that breeds in these braided river systems comes from the coast to the south, migrating north, but doesn’t go round Banks Peninsula. What’s more, we know that E7 made the same trip again this year, because Battley saw her last summer at Miranda on the Firth of Thames, and again in September, “looking very shabby and worn out, probably because she had just come in on migration”. Both Manea (male) and Lady (a female, unsurprisingly) were both head-started as chicks in June 2017 at WWT Welney. Project Godwit and all our colleagues working to protect godwits are indebted to all who go to the trouble of reporting colour ring sightings. Stunning stuff. Can they somehow sense when the meteorological moment is right? Wading birds, such as lesser knots, bar-tailed godwits, whimbrels and eastern curlews, come from the northern hemisphere. Food and nesting space are simple answers! Estuaries and coastal lagoons are the best places to look for black-tailed godwits at almost any time of year, though they also visit wetland sites inland. To see a list of birds looking for Guardians click here. November can feel like a dreary time of year at the best of times, so the team at Project Godwit have found it a real boost recently to receive reports of black-tailed godwits from the UK breeding population beyond the shores of Blighty. Now we’re back where we were in March, at Southshore Spit, only on the inland side this time, looking out on a long sandbank exposed by the low tide. In this blog we introduce you to some of the birds that have been seen in recent weeks. Ringed as a chick in 2001, this female godwit was spotted at the Tagus estuary, Portugal on 3 October by Daniel Raposo. Maybe it’s the beauty of the word itself (origin, alas, obscure); but more likely it’s because New Zealanders identify with godwits which, like us, are always leaving the country and coming back. Even Crossland can’t figure that one out. In breeding plumage, the only bright orangey-red bar-tailed godwits are males. There will, however, be plenty of support and good wishes sent from afar to spur them on when the muscles in their perpetually peddling legs begin to ache. Their total New Zealand population is currently estimated to be about 80,000. Once, when he lay prostrate and motionless in the sand, oystercatchers used his body as a windbreak. Another one-year-old godwit head-started in 2019 has just been reported this week from Senegal, in Djoudj National Park near Debi. To learn more about the threats this airport development poses, see our previous blog here. Birds from the eastern European populations migrate to Tunisia and Algeria, then on to Mali or Chad. During spring and summer, adult Bar-tailed godwits have dark brown and grey backs and brick-red heads, necks and underparts. Rising sea levels will greatly reduce intertidal foraging habitat at wintering, staging and post-breeding sites. Amongst some of the godwit sightings recently to have arrived in the team’s inbox is that of a female godwit reported from the Tagus estuary by Hugo Areal. That's why it is critical that godwits and other vulnerable species have undisturbed access to their highly productive feeding areas in New Zealand and along the flyways, he says. In 2018, this male left the UK on June 21st, went to the Balearic coast of mainland Spain, and stayed there for three months. “Because they’re smaller. Needless to say, lots of plans and dreams this year have been scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic. They stop over in the Yellow Sea to feed, before heading to Alaska in May and June, where they stay for several months during the Northern Hemisphere summer. Head-started godwits spotted here: Too many to mention! “Salt is wonderful,” he says, “because it’s the best weedkiller you can get. Pickles was released on 9 June at WWT Welney. Beyond them are the pied oystercatchers, so they’ve both got dry feet, and then on the edge there are the godwits. “Can they only re-meet by going to the breeding ground and landing on the nesting site and hoping that the mate comes back? Did you know ‘Barker’ is an old name for a godwit, along with blackwit, whelp, yarwhelp, shrieker and Jadreka snipe?! On September 15 there were 394. This is yet another godwit from the UK breeding population reported to have been using the Tagus estuary for many years – where the building of an international airport is proposed. If one goes up, the whole lot will go. Needless to say it’s been a challenging year for the team, however we look forward to next year and hope for good health, better prospects and that normal programming will resume soon so we can continue making gains for the conservation of black-tailed godwits. Fascinatingly, Désirée and Maris’ brother Jersey has been spotted in Bavaria (May 2019), suggesting this brood seem to have a penchant for spending the breeding season outside the UK. Instead, these birds cut inland over Christchurch and end up at the Avon and Heathcote estuary. Bar-tailed godwits Limosa lapponica baueri migrate northward from New Zealand toward Asian stopover sites … No ‘godwit stops’ to a reserve where godwits have been spotted today – but with dreadful stormy weather over 72 very hilly and soggy miles, plus a puncture, Jen and Mark had enough to contend with. on What does a godwit scientist do in lockdown? The fact this godwit is spending another spring here suggests she has joined the Dutch breeding population of black-tailed godwits. turned to the Netherlands again – this time to Zuiderwoude in May this year. Although experienced cyclists who have been training for some time for this event, Jen and Mark have never attempted a long-distance multi-day ride before – but are looking forward to the challenge! Please create one below, or sign in if you already have one. Another young godwit that was in the Tagus estuary in February is two-year-old Hurricane, now back at WWT Welney since May. But it obviously cannot tell us what the birds are up to during their flights, nor how long it takes them to get from point A to point B. Other head-started godwits to have fledged chicks this year include female Earith (also head-started in 2017), who fledged three chicks at the RSPB Pilot Project site, adjacent to the Ouse Washes, having paired with a wild-reared male again. Head-started godwits are also breeding in the UK, pairing with ‘wild-reared’ adults as well as with other head-started birds. The affable Battley, a senior lecturer in zoology in Massey’s Ecology Group, studies all kinds of shorebirds but for a while godwits were of particular interest to him: he was part of an international research project run by the US Geological Survey out of Alaska, a project which culminated last year in a fluke discovery that set the ornithological world alight and even made the general news headlines. Nonetheless, we are aware of some pairings. “It makes sense from an energy point of view that they fly in a flock,” explains Crossland, “because the lead bird takes the pressure and the other birds are able to go in the slipstream.”. Despite the vital importance of the area for biodiversity, the Tagus estuary is threatened with the development of an airport for Lisbon. Our latest blog post is by Mo Verhoeven, RSPB Senior Research Assistant for Project Godwit. A new fence may not be the most exciting thing to read about, but then on-the-ground conservation isn’t glamorous. This godwit breeds at the Nene Washes every spring and was seen with its partner and chicks in May this year by a member of the team. Its rings reveal it to be an incredible 19 years old! One of Crossland’s tasks is to count godwits. Repeatability 0.86 adult males The oystercatchers are feeding on shellfish, mainly cockles: there’s an amazing abundance of cockles in this estuary. “You have to look at it from another perspective. That’s not very uncommon. The other was from a male godwit known as OB-OL(E). As some big wetlands around the margin of the estuary have been developed, they really want to encourage the birds to use those sites. Must find out…”. But we don’t know how they pair up, especially when they commute up and down the world’s largest ocean. This factor provides an answer to the question, “How do animals know when to migrate?” Why do godwits behave so differently, and how do these individual differences come about? The stage was set for a beautiful spring. It’s World Migratory Birds Day this Saturday 10 October and with excellent timing a new wave of sightings of black-tailed godwits from outside the UK has flooded in to the team at Project Godwit. The question of why has long been a difficult question for biologists (more specifically ornithologists) to answer. It’s the same with the plant people and other people around Christchurch, the council’s always been really good that way. The way to get around the battery is to have a solar panel on it, but of course that has to be on the outside of the bird, and that’s when you start getting interference with the wind flow.”. Many birds come from overseas to feed at estuaries and mudflats during New Zealand’s summer. Remi was seen last week back at the Nene Washes as is paired with an un-ringed wild male. This male godwit visited Steart Marshes in July 2017. Your group, school or class’s name will then be put up on our website and you will also be sent a Godwit Guardian certificate and a profile of your chosen bird. Head-started godwits spotted here: Benwick, Mo, Wedge, Gold, Chopstick, Chip & Rosti. “Well, ‘Why come?’ is the other question,” replies Crossland. “They just look exhausted. In order for migration to be worthwhile, the benefits must outweigh the risks – benefits coming in the form of improved survival and breeding success. 112 godwits have been head-started and released since the first year of the project in 2017, to boost the number of black-tailed godwits breeding in the UK. Despite the vital importance of the challenge took Jen and Mark kicked off their adventure departing WWT... 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