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First N hemisphere godwits arrive on Chch Estuary

Media Release 16 September 2005 1 page

First northern hemisphere godwits arrive on Christchurch Estuary

The first godwits to have flown from Alaska to the Christchurch Estuary this year have arrived and the Christ Church Cathedral bells will be rung at midday tomorrow (Saturday) to mark the occasion.

City Council Coastal Parks Ranger Scott Butcher says the population of mainly young bar-tailed godwits which wintered over on the tidal flats has been expanded by a good number of new arrivals.

“There are birds there this morning with bands on their legs that were not part of the winter-over population,” he says. “At least one of them is carrying coloured bands which show it was banded in Australia.”

Last summer about 400 of the godwits spending the spring and summer in New Zealand were banded. It is thought the migrants fly non-stop across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand, a journey of about 11,000km which takes about a week. They are thought return to Alaska in stages up the western edge of the Pacific.

In their early years, some young birds do not return to the northern hemisphere breeding grounds with the rest of their fellows, choosing instead to spend their time on New Zealand estuaries.


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