Feathered guests back for visit

00:53, Oct 15 2010
Best times to view these birds is when tide out as they love ragworms and insect larvae

Godwits, the masters of long-distance travel, are back.

Driftwood Eco-Tours owner Will Parsons, who takes kayaking trips on the Wairau Lagoons, said he had been looking out for the birds for a month or so now.

He saw a few he believed had wintered over but last weekend he saw a flock of about 300.

Two weeks ago, the first bar-tailed godwits to finish their more than 11,000km journey from Alaska were spotted on Canterbury's Avon-Heathcote estuary. About 2000 more are expected to land over the next few weeks.

The Alaska Science Centre used satellite telemetry to follow the migrations of the godwits in 2007 and 2008, confirming the godwits as the longest non-stop fliers for a land bird.

Mr Parsons said the best times to view the birds was at low tide as they loved ragworms and insect larvae.

"Godwits also like to claim areas of estuary for themselves when feeding and this is a common strategy. So if viewing take a pair of binoculars and look for large flocks.

"If people want to see them, then this is the time to see them," he said pointing out that some of the birds' resting spots in Asia were at risk of environmental degradation, putting the birds' migration at risk. The birds fly back to Alaska to breed from March.


The Marlborough Express