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Christchurch’s bar-tailed Godwits

Spring is in the air and with it the arrival of Christchurch’s feathery friends, the bar-tailed Godwits

Local ornithologists spotted the first bunch of Godwits (Kūaka) at 5.45pm on Monday. So far, more than 200 Godwits have settled on the northern part of the Avon-Heathcote Estuary and parts of Bexley wetland with more expected to arrive over the next few weeks.

Each September the Godwits arrive in New Zealand, travelling more than 11,000 kilometres over eight days to escape the cold Alaskan winter. Nicknamed the marathon bird, their annual journey is the largest nonstop flight known for any bird.

The Godwits use the New Zealand summer to rest up and double their weight under the watchful eye of local bird-lovers and Christchurch City Council park rangers. During this time hundreds of Godwits use the estuary as a sanctuary for feeding and roosting.

Christchurch City Council Parks Unit Manager Andrew Rutledge says, “The return of the Godwits is a welcome sign that spring has arrived in the city. Here in Christchurch we are lucky to be able to watch the birds interact in our local natural environment after their long journey.

"Interested residents will have the chance to observe these birds around the Southshore Spit or the estuary area but we request as always that dog owners respect their presence. Dogs that are running loose may distress the Godwits who need to be able to nest and feed in peace.

“It's important the birds are rested and in peak condition at the end of summer in order to survive their return flight.”
The return flight in March takes several weeks with stopovers around China's Yellow Sea, the Korean Peninsula and Japan, before the final home stretch crossing of the Bering Sea to Alaska.

ENDS

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