Marathon flight ends for godwits

17:00, Sep 09 2014

Godwits, the masters of long-distance travel, have arrived in Marlborough on their annual migration following an exhaustive 12,000-kilometre journey from the Arctic Circle.

Nature lover Will Parsons of Driftwood Ecotours, who takes kayaking trips on the Wairau Lagoons, was birdwatching between the Opawa and Wairau rivers when a flock of 37 birds arrived on Monday at 7.15am.

Parsons said it was serendipity he got a first glimpse of the flock.

Each spring the birds make a 12-day journey from the Arctic Circle. Parsons said the Wairau Lagoons had around 700 birds each year.

"It is interesting they always return to the same area of New Zealand every year.

"They must come for the scenery, Marlborough's climate or have good taste in wine," Parsons laughs.


"I suspect it is down to familiarity and the opportunity to rebreed."

The best time to see them was during low tide at Wairau Lagoons when they feed on worms, larvae and molluscs.

"They are stunning and are recognisable by their vibrant brick red and orange plumage," Parsons said.

"It was overwhelming experience when they landed in front of me.

"They were exhausted having just up much of their body fat. They plonked down and slept for five hours then voraciously fed to get their energy up."

The birds would stay in Marlborough until March then moved onto a feeding ground in China.

The Marlborough Express