There are a couple of articles written by Tony Habraken about those long-distance migrants, the Bar-tailed Godwits. The first telling of the sheer fluke that led to the collection of data proving the 11,000 km+, eight day, single flight from the breeding grounds in Alaska to New Zealand. It was as a result of a battery outlasting its expected lifespan, by a few months, that this data was made available. The transmitter was originally fitted to a female bird sporting the leg flag E7 (she features on the front cover, left) to track her as she flew north to discover where her stop over sites in the Yellow Sea region were and then onward to discover where she bred in Alaska. All batteries fitted to the other birds at the same time then ceased to function as was expected but E7's transmitter battery just kept going and continued to send signals detailing her return to New Zealand! Since this epic flight, and discovery, she has held a special place in the hearts of those that were studying her and she continued to be monitored by visual observations. In the course of a few years, since 2008, she had lost a leg which stopped her from feeding sufficiently well to enable her to make further migrations and she seems to have retired to New Zealand. She had moved from her usual haunt in the Firth of Thames to the Bay of Plenty, the theory is that the substrate at the latter is softer thus making it easier to feed, offering her a kinder environment in which to spend her remaining years.
|Bar-tailed Godwit (not E7) Limosa lapponica baueri; Foxton Beach, New Zealand.
|Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea; Khok Kham, Thailand. February 2014.
|Red Knot Calidris canutus rogersi; juvenile Western Treatment Plant, Victoria, Australia. September 2013.
|Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus; Pak Thale, Thaialnd. January 2014
|Variable Oystercatcher Haematopus unicolor; Plimmerton, New Zealand. October 2013