Black-tailed Godwit

Godwit races and Sykes’s grip

Just catching up. I am still on Grey Plover day (2 days ago). There was a time… when some of us thought that all of the rather bright looking Black-tailed Godwits in front of us were all of the nominate (continental) form ‘limosa’. We were excited to find what we thought was a bright bespangled islandica.

Some revelation occurred between then and now. We now know (especially through colour ringing schemes) that almost all of thousands of Black-tailed Godwits seen in Britain are islandica (most presumably from the core breeding range which is (no surprises), Iceland (also in N. Scotland and N. Norway). In fact I have yet to find a juvenile limosa for myself. While I wait and look, this fine juvenile islandica in front of the Canal Scrape Hide at Spurn served to remind me of the differences between the two forms – ready for the day!

Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits are typically shorter-billed and legged than on the Continental form. Critically though the rich orangey neck/ breast and the quite strong black and orange theme running through the upperpart feathers (scapulars,wing coverts and tertials) points to islandica. Nominate limosa (continental) birds in juvenile plumage are generally much greyer looking overall with duller, browner-orange toned neck and breast, and weaker, duller marks on the upperpart feathering.

Syke’s Warbler at Burrafirth today

I heard today Rory and Will found a Syke’s Warbler at the Burrafirth burn on Unst. Delighted for them but a bit gutted. I can visualise it so clearly. I was walking the burn only 2 weeks ago – staying in Rory’s old accommodation at the boat station.

Below: Photo of the burn at Burrafirth taken a couple of weeks back.  Rory is also a guide for Shetland Nature– so the second big rare has fallen to one of the team. Chance for another shameless plug! Shetland Autumn Birding has begun in style with 2 big finds by Shetland Nature tour leaders. Will you be joining us?

Wildlife colour and texture

Back to the Godwit. It’s not just the birds is it? Other wildlife  provides the background texture and colour. Here’s 2 from the nearby ‘background’ of the Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, and following on from it we can do a red-brown theme, just for fun!

Roe Deer and Common Darter


About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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2 Responses to Black-tailed Godwit

  1. thedrunkbirder says:

    Are you going to be on Shetland first week in October? I’m staying in Levenwick at Melstadr – apparently according to The Leicester Llama we have a stunning garden full of potential. Can’t wait…

    • Martin Garner says:

      Hi John

      I will be in Shetland from 30th Sept (evening) till 10th October – hope we get to meet while at twitch to be envied!

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