Godwits make spring appearance

Migratory godwits have begun arriving at the Manawatu River Estuary after their seasonal non-stop migratory flight from Alaska.

"They're looking knackered," said a Foxton Beach resident yesterday.

This is only to be expected as the 11,000-kilometre flight, usually taking the birds six or seven days, is believed to be the longest non-stop migratory flight by any bird on Earth.

"I haven't been down to see them yet," said the project manager for the Manawatu Estuary Trust, Joan Leckie. "They normally come in a few at a time between now and the end of the month.

"The godwits are usually the first of the foreign birds to arrive with the knots coming in from Siberia a bit after them."

Ms Leckie said a viewing day was planned for October 31 with the viewing platform at the end of Dawick Street, Foxton Beach, set as the gathering point.

Walks were being arranged and there would be people with telescopes and binoculars on hand to provide closeup views.

"The best time to go is at high tide when they come up the beach to roost together. Before then they are spread out feeding."

But there are many more birds to see than just godwits. Knots, terns, golden plovers, spoonbills, stilts, oyster catchers and other, even rarer birds feature among the 93 species that make the estuary a Ramsar site a wetland of international importance.

When winter approaches, the godwits will leave New Zealand on their return trip to Alaska, this time via China.

The Manawatu Standard