Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
Range: Breeds in arctic regions of Eurasia and Alaska. Winters in a broad sweep across Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

Fig. 1. Adult nominate or baueri in fresh alternate-plumage. Limosa lapponica breed from Scandinavia east to central Siberia and migrates to Europe, Africa and southern Asia. This migrant was photographed on the Yatsu Flat in Tokyo and thus could be nominate or baueri.

Fig. 2. Between 85,000 and 100,000 Bar-tailed Godwit visit New Zealand each year, and approximately ten percent remain through the southern winter. These are mainly juveniles and few show signs of breeding plumage.  Most birds are thought to belong to the subspecies baueri which breeds from the Lena River across eastern Siberia into northern Alaska. They migrate to southeastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Increadible as it may seem, the adults probably make a direct flight of 11, 000 kilometres across the Pacific from Alaska to New Zealand, with smaller numbers using one or two staging areas in northeastern Asia and northern or eastern Australia. The journey from Alaska to New Zealand must be one of the longest non-stop bird migration in the world. The return trip is slower perhaps because birds need to be in peak condition when they reach the breeding grounds, Godwits leave New Zealand in March and early April and arrive in western Alaska in May and early June. They use staging sites in northern Australia, New Guinea and Asia.

Fig. 3. More baueri wintering at Miranda in New Zealand.

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All text and images copyright of Angus Wilson© 2002