Monday, December 14, 2015

Black-Tailed Godwit

By Richard Crossley (Richard Crossley) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
I was doing the WeBS survey down on Lewes Brooks RSPB reserve this morning. There was no wind and it was cold but not crisp. Still few wildfowl, just mallards and a handful of wigeon and teal. But the lapwing were there in numbers, around 200 or so, and when the flock was in the air I noticed another bird flying with them. It looked like an oversized snipe but the trailing feet, clear black terminal band on the tail and white trailing edge of the wings showed it to be a Black-Tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa. It is unusual to see a solitary bird and I think this was the first time I'd seen one on the Brooks. The birds in the UK are of the Icelandic race, L. l. islandica. It calls repetitively in flight.
The similar Bar-Tailed Godwit has a barred tail (no, really) and an equally long beak which has a slight curve upwards. The Black-Tailed Godwit has been Red-Listed since 1996 but the numbers overwintering in Sussex have been increasing over the last 20 years with Pagham and Chichester harbours holding around 3% of the national total. 

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