The Godwits Are Back
Posted by Default Admin and Sue Farley on 3 September 2016Tags: farewell spit bar-tailed godwits godwits wader birds
Great news for everyone yesterday when the first godwit of the season was spotted. Paddy was out with an afternoon tour and saw it on the outer beach as they were heading back to Puponga, about 4kms west of the lighthouse.
The godwits' usual season here is September to March and, just like their departure in March heralds the end of summer, their arrival in September announces loud and clear that summer is on its way. After an 8 - 9 day flight from the northern hemisphere they arrive, hungry and tired. Godwits are not true seabirds, they are wading birds, so they can't feed on the way. It must be a long, energy-sapping trip without rest or food.
Once here they are quick to start stocking up again, feeding mostly on bristle worms from the eel grass-covered sandflats inside Farewell Spit. They also like to forage for smaller bivalves and crustaceans and, when breeding, will search for other food sources as well.
Almost all the godwits in New Zealand come from western Alaska each year and are from the baueri sub-species, known as the Eastern Bar-Tailed Godwits. They are very prevalent on Farewell Spit over summer.
The Wader Watch Tour gives an excellent opportunity to see these birds. Up to four people at a time can do this trip on the Argo so you need to book ahead. We travel on the rising tide and watch the birds as they gather close to the high tide mark. It's an ideal opportunity to watch them without disturbing their feeding.
Contact us to join a tour.