Tuesday, 23 September 2008

WILD BLUESKIN: Godwits update

The cathedral bells of Christchurch rang out for the arrival of the
Avon Godwits/Kuaka early this year on 8 September but the Blueskin Bay
birds arrived unheralded on the Saturday 20th. This is a day later
than last year and a week or so earlier than the usual date for the
previous seven years. Over high tide on the Sunday morning there was a
flock of 40 or so on the mudflats at Evansdale and a further 110 at
the end of Warrington Spit, six of which had coloured bands on their
legs. These birds were banded at Warrington in February 2006 and have
since been to Siberia and back twice, returning to Blueskin Bay each
time, a round trip of about 29,000 km.

On the same Saturday a Shining Cuckoo sang in Waitati, four days
earlier than last year, back from spending the winter in the Solomon
Islands and Bismarck Archipelago, a mere 4000 km each way.

Out at sea the Titi, (Sooty shearwaters or Muttonbirds) have also
returned early from the waters of the North Pacific Ocean off Japan,
the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Alaskan and Californian coasts. A few
even nip across the southern ocean on their way north for a stopover
in Chile. Unlike the godwits they fly a few feet above the surface of
the sea but do not appear to feed much, quickly crossing the
equatorial waters in a few days on their way back to New Zealand. Titi
fly about 65,000 km on their annual trip around the Pacific.

There are several websites updating tracking of godwits and titi
across the Pacific.
is a good place to start for godwits and
http://www.terranature.org/sootyShearwaterMigration.htm for titi. (If
you read this article on the blueskin.co.nz website, these web
addresses are clickable.)

by Derek Onley

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