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Cathedral Bells for early-bird Godwits

Cathedral Bells for early-bird Godwits

The Christ Church Cathedral bells are set to peal at noon today to welcome the earlier than anticipated arrival of the godwits.

The Eastern Bar-tailed Godwits have been adopted by Christchurch city as a harbinger of spring and this is the first time in many years that the long-distance flyers have made it to New Zealand so close to the calendar start of spring.

The Alaskan birds, who fly 11,000 kms non-stop across the Pacific, generally reach the Avon-Heathcote estuaries after mid September. The two-week early arrival is causing some concern for Christchurch City Council ranger and bird expert, Andrew Crossland, who is keeping a close eye on the habits of the birds, as well as their habitat.

Also coinciding with the arrival of the godwits is the distribution to Christchurch primary schools of a children’s book celebrating the importance of godwits. The distribution is undertaken by the Avon-Heathcote Ihutai Trust, a non-profit organisation formed by the public and supported by Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury.

“Skalaska’s New Home” will be sent out to schools over the next 14 days, with the aim to develop a better understanding among children for the godwits. “It is delightful story for children to understand what it would be like to be just a little bird in a strange country and the problems it faces to survive,” saysTanya Jenkins, Education committee member for the Ihutai Trust.

The story is about Skalaska, the young godwit who flies into Christchurch with his family, and the problems they face in the estuary; Skalaska gets caught in litter carelessly dropped by people visiting the estuary, putting him into a very dangerous situation.

The book is written by Marlene Bennetts, local well-known children's book author with delightful graphics by another local, Trish Bowles, says Ms Jenkins


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