Saturday, 11 October 2014


High spring tides over the last few days have brought large numbers of black-tailed godwits to roost in the country park fields. Most of the birds pack into the pools where 1400 birds were estimated by Andy Field on Saturday 11th. A few redshank were also roosting here as was a greenshank on a couple of occasions.

Andy managed to find about ten black-tailed godwits on Thursday 9th that had been colour ringed such as this one pictured above. Thanks to some speedy replies from Dr Jenny Gill and Peter Potts the next day, we've discovered what kind of journeys some of these birds have undertaken since they were ringed.

The black-tailed godwit pictured above has the combination GR-OW and was first ringed in the Wash on Sept 2002. It has since been seen on thirty occasions ranging from W. France, NW. France, the nearby Blackwater estuary, Holland and now East Mersea. The bird has made annual visits to these coastal sites as well as flying back to Iceland to breed each spring.

This well observed globetrotter godwit is GW-GX pictured above, seen in the fields also on Thursday 9th. Ringed as an adult in SW Iceland in April 2002, this bird has been seen 29 times. Observations have been in Iceland ( west, east and south-west) several times, various corners of the adjacent Colne estuary several times and also near Shannon in Ireland.

Another very well observed black-tailed godwit was ringed as a chick and been seen 76 times particularly on the north Kent marshes most winters. It has been seen back in NW Iceland several times, NW France several times, W France, south Essex, Aberdeen and now East Mersea.

The first big godwit roost on the fields took place on Wednesday 8th ahead of one of the very high spring tides but also following a morning of heavy rain which would've softened up the ground for them to feed. Two big flocks gathered with this group on the grass of about 1000 birds while another 800 were gathered in the nearby flooded corner of the field.
Bar-tailed godwits feeding on the nearby mudflats don't roost in these fields although one was found in amongst the black-tails with this group pictured above.

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