Wednesday 20 March 2013

Wader Quest species seen n° 12: Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

Titchwell RSPB reserve, Norfolk, England.

1st November. Titchwell beach, Norfolk England. (Also seen: UAE.)

These birds were encountered on the beach where we most often find them at Titchwell, only occasionally being seen on the reserve itself.

This species is a winter visitor to the UK breeding in Scandinavia and patchily across the arctic east to Alaska.

There are three subspecies, those which we have seen in the UK and UAE are the nominate race L. l. lapponica.

Some Alaskan birds of the subspecies L. l. baueri have been shown to make non-stop migration flights covering the Alaska to New Zealand flight in one hit, a journey of some 11,690 km. On their return north however they make a single stop over in Asia, one bird had made a round trip of 29,280 km, pretty impressive! Dr. Phil Battley who is studying the species at Massey University in New Zealand says that these findings were possible due to fitting radio trackers to the birds both in New Zealand and Australia where the subspecies L. l. menzbieri winter.

Phil is a friend of Wader Quest and we hope that we will be able to visit his project when we finally get to New Zealand later this year and bring more information about this fascinating species' migration.

Manawatu Estuary New Zealand: Photo Brent Stephenson
The Bar-tailed Godwit is Considered of Least Concern by Birdlife International with a global population estimated between 1,100,000 and 1,200,000 and although typically the general population trend is decreasing some populations may be stable.

Titchwell beach, Norfolk, England.

Birdlife International (2013) Species factsheet: Calidris alpina. Downloaded from on 06/02/2013

del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. & Sargatal, J. eds (1996). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 3. Hoatzins to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Phil F. Battley, Nils Warnock, T. Lee Tibbitts, Robert E. Gill, Jr, Theunis Piersma, Chris J. Hassell,
David C. Douglas, Daniel M. Mulcahy, Brett D. Gartell, Rob Schuckard, David S. Melville and
Adrian C. Riegen: Contrasting extreme long-distance migration patterns in
bar-tailed godwits Limosa lapponica. Journal of Avian Biology 43: 001–012, 2012

Titchwell RSPB reserve, England. UK.

For more information on this species see:

Birdlife International species factsheet:


Internet Bird Collection: 

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