Conservationists “stunned” as UK first project reveals bird migration mysteries - RSPB

'Clive' an adult Bar-Tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, is weighed; Credit – RSPB
'Clive' an adult Bar-Tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, is weighed; Credit – RSPB

A UK first project is shedding new light on the amazing journey of the Bar-tailed Godwit, one of the UK’s most tenacious migratory bird species, and the role that England’s east coast plays in their survival

For the first time a new project is uncovering the journeys of one of the UK’s most internationally important migratory bird species, the Bar-tailed Godwit. Hundreds of thousands of these long-legged and long-billed wading birds pass through the UK each year on migration, spotted in their largest numbers along our estuaries between November and February.

Despite weighing just 300 grams (the equivalent of half a dozen eggs or two oranges), the Bar-tailed Godwit has one of the longest migrations of all birds. Last year, one Bar-tailed Godwit set a new world record with a non-stop flight from Alaska to southern Australia over just 11 days.

Now, conservationists are seeing how our native counterpart compares, with GPS tagging shedding new light on where these birds travel and the vital role that England’s East Coast Wetlands – a potential Natural World Heritage Site - play in their survival.

Using the latest non-invasive technology, five Bar-tailed Godwits from The Wash, an area of the East Coast Wetlands, have been tagged in the UK first project, with the data collected helping to support future conservation efforts. The birds have been tagged by the Wash Wader Research Group (WWRG), which has been studying wading birds using The Wash since 1959, working closely with the RSPB and supported by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Natural England.

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Posted On: 04/10/2023

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