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Spring in the Garden City

12 August 2004

Lambs? Daffodils? Yes, but godwits also signal Spring in the Garden City

Canterbury has already begun counting its famous lambs and in Christchurch the famous daffodils are starting to open in famous Hagley Park. But there’s another magnificent signal of Spring that should also be looked forward to and celebrated.

Around the third week of September, the first of hundreds of bar-tailed godwits touch down in The Estuary of the Avon and Heathcote Rivers, having just completed the longest non-stop migration of any bird in the world …14,000km, non-stop from Siberia and Alaska.

No-one knows why. It’s not breeding instinct, because the Northern Hemisphere is where they mate and nest, their “home”.

These long-distance waders arrive exhausted, tatty-feathered and skinny, having lost two-thirds of their body weight en route. Then, in late March, fattened up and fully fledged in breeding plumage, the godwits again take to the skies over Sumner and head 14,000km back again.

Christchurch’s internationally renowned wetland conservatories, just 12km from the city centre, mean the city continues to make the incredible journey worthwhile and ensure there is an extraordinary and unique wealth of nature on our doorstep that is truly worth celebrating.

For the first time this year, Christchurch City plans to celebrate the arrival of the first bar-tailed godwits. When City Council park ranger Andrew Crossland reports that the first arrivals, the bells of Christchurch Cathedral will ring out for half an hour in celebration.


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