It is a time of celebration in New Zealand, when the bar-tailed godwits return. It is a sign of spring. Arriving in September, the count at Foxton Beach increased this week from the half dozen over-wintering birds to 120+. The godwits are incredible birds, not only for their magnificent bills but also for their endurance flight from the northern hemisphere. They hold the record for the longest non-stop journey of any non sea bird. Whilst in New Zealand, their body weight will double. They leave us in March, giving a glimpse of their breeding plumage before departing. The female bird is considerably larger than the male with a proportionately larger bill as well. You can see that clearly in my first image.
Bar-tailed Godwit (limosa lapponica)
The birds wander the shoreline digging for food or rest in groups. I like to watch them as the tide comes in, pushing them up the beach often on one leg. They also have the ability to bend the top part of their bill which makes them look very odd.