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Godwits return to Christchurch

The Godwits pictured on an island just off Southshore Spit yesterday morning.

Monday 15 September 2014

Godwits return to Christchurch

Christchurch’s much-loved visitors, the bar-tailed Godwits, have started their return to Christchurch.

The first influx of 286 godwits was spotted by local ornithologists at the Avon-Heathcote Estuary yesterday with a further 1800–2000 expected to arrive over the next few weeks. There have also been sightings at Lake Ellesmere, south of Christchurch.

The birds arrive in New Zealand each September, having made the longest nonstop flight known for any bird – more than 11,000 kilometres over eight days – from Alaska to New Zealand, leaving the northern winter. While in Christchurch over spring and summer, the Godwits will rest up and double their weight. Hundreds of Godwits will be using the estuary and wetlands for feeding and roosting.

Christchurch City Council Acting Team Leader Regional Parks Operations Paul Devlin says, “The arrival of the Godwits to Christchurch shores is always a great sight and signals that spring is here. Local residents will able to observe these birds around the Southshore Spit or the estuary area but as always we request dog owners respect their presence.

“It’s important the Godwits are able to feed in peace so we ask that dogs are not left to run loose around them as this may scare them. The birds need to be rested and in peak condition in order to survive their return flight.”

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