Soaring with the black-tailed godwit

Soaring with the black-tailed godwit


Posted 25th Apr 2018


After the successful return of the first hand-reared black-tailed godwit, we take a look at the tall, elegant wader

The black-tailed godwit will breed in wet grasslands, yet winters on coastal estuaries and marshes, along with inland shallow waters. As a sociable bird, the black-tailed godwit forms large flocks when feeding, probing the mud with its bill as it hunts for invertebrate prey.

Forming monogamous pairs which last for up to 25 years, black-tailed godwits will arrive at their breeding grounds each year within three days of each other, to mate and raise their chicks together.

How to identify

When they fly, black-tailed godwits have a black tail, square, white rump and broad and white wingbars, while their feet stick out well beyond their tail. Taller than the bar-tailed godwit, and with a straighter bill, the adults have a greyish back, white belly and brick-orange head during the spring and summer, while during winter, they are grey above and white below.

The rare breeding bird will be found on wet grasslands in East Anglia, Kent and north-west England. A common sight on migration at wetlands throughout the country, the birds will winter on estuaries along the south coast.

Breeding populations have dramatically declined in recent years. This has prompted local Wildlife Trusts up and down the country to look after wetland and coastal habitats to make sure they will benefit wading birds - ensuring they remain undisturbed, ponds and lakes have muddy shallows and shores, and farmers using wildlife-friendly practices are just some of the ways to help.

Information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of Amy Lewis





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