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. This was closely followed by a sighting of Tom, a headstarted bird released at WWT Welney in 2018, wintering in Porto Alto in Portugal. On January 14th this year, Jelle Loonstra and I handed in our joint PhD on “The behaviour and ecology of the Black-tailed Godwit”. Right now, it’s late March and Andrew Crossland is taking us out on the Southshore Spit, on the northern side of the estuary. Repeatability 0.77 overall 0.83 for adults only Battley. Subsequently, the project had to rely on the site managers of WWT Welney, RSPB Nene Washes and RSPB Ouse Washes to monitor the godwits when they could, on top of their already very busy workloads. Male godwit Morgan has been spotted at Pagham Harbour in Sussex, Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve in Hampshire and RSPB Ouse Washes in Cambridgeshire in July – all within a fortnight! Creating and managing ideal wet grassland habitat for godwits is a key element to Project Godwit and is paramount in securing the future of these special migrant waders in the UK. Remi is another female from our class of 2017 but, in contrast to our other headstarted birds, she has decided to set up home at the RSPB Nene Washes. 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. As some big wetlands around the margin of the estuary have been developed, they really want to encourage the birds to use those sites. The other was from a male godwit known as OB-OL(E). Like passengers at a departure gate. RSPB Nene Washes is a befitting end point for Jen and Mark to cross the finish line, as this is where the eggs are sourced each breeding season. Further along the road going north we come to the Bexley Wetland Reserve, part of which used to be a car wrecker’s yard. In breeding plumage, the only bright orangey-red bar-tailed godwits are males. Biology Letters 2: 517-520 . Furthermore, contrary to our expectations, temperatures were a stronger predictor of … For context: some godwits start migrating in the opposite direction, from west Africa back north, as early as the second week of September. 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. It’s the same with the plant people and other people around Christchurch, the council’s always been really good that way. The first influx had clearly arrived from Alaska, as some of them still bore traces of their breeding plumage. Nonetheless, we are aware of some pairings. Bar-tailed godwits nesting in Alaska (L. l. baueri) travel all the way to Australia and New Zealand. A question that many godwit aficionados out there may have is ‘How many head-started godwits from last year have returned this year?’ Young black-tailed godwits often don’t return to the UK from their first migration until the age of two – but some do venture back earlier. Bob Gill, of the US Geological Survey, explains how this procedure is carried out. As with so many of our activities which sadly either had to be postponed or cancelled altogether, monitoring of godwits had to be scaled back to a bare minimum. 1030. If you are part of a school or community group in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk or Lincolnshire then you could get involved in Project Godwit by becoming a Godwit Guardian. Becoming a Godwit Guardian is a fun, free way to get involved in Project Godwit. The last reported sighting of Manea was in April 2019 at WWT Welney. If so, what effect will major climate change have on them? To build a more complete picture of the godwits’ movements, we’ve been fitting some of the birds with geolocators. Crossland sets up his spotting scope on a tripod and describes the view. Tom’s egg was collected from muddy farmland and hatched at WWT Welney on 19 May last year. They’ve thought of everything. “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.”. On September 7 there were suddenly 274 godwits, but by the following day, 326. The signals sent out are picked up by National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration satellites and tracked on computer screens by Gill and his colleagues in Anchorage. It’s been an exciting couple of weeks on Project Godwit as we welcome the first of our headstarted birds back to the project sites. Once, when he lay prostrate and motionless in the sand, oystercatchers used his body as a windbreak. Rising sea levels will greatly reduce intertidal foraging habitat at wintering, staging and post-breeding sites. Why and how do they do it and which routes do they take? Head-started birds have been reported in 10 countries along the species’ migration flyway, including Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania. Nature reserve: WWT Steart Marshes, Somerset. First stop was at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve Trimley Marshes, where head-started godwits Fenn and Tipps have both been seen. Bar-tailed godwits that arrive in New Zealand face no predators, and so they can simply rest. The second day of the challenge took Jen and Mark to Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve in Hampshire. One is that the birds don’t stop to eat: by steady feeding before they leave, they bulk up to the point where nearly half their body weight is pure fat, which they then burn off as fuel when they fly. 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. None of this would be possible without the bird watchers and observers who spend their time looking for ringed birds. Facing north. Or, as another paper co-authored by Gill puts it, “Is weather across the Pacific teleconnected such that certain departure cues at northern latitudes assure relatively favourable conditions along most of the route?”. Intriguing! At all times of year, a bar-tailed godwit has a streaky back. He thumbs through a battered old diary. 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