Visitors to the reserve have been treated to record numbers of Black-tailed Godwits in the LDV over recent weeks, with the previous record count (flock of 391 in 2001), beaten by this year’s total with 561 counted on the 27th March - an impressive sight as they twist and turn in the air in a mix of red, white and black from their summer breeding plumage.
These birds belong to the Islandic breeding population which has undergone a dramatic increase in numbers over the last 40 years - a trend which has been mirrored in the LDV. Back in the 1980’s, only a handful of these birds moved through the site (often for only a day or two), in late April/early May, increasing to flocks of around 100 during the 1990’s. Over the last decade these birds have now started to appear during January, building up to sizable flocks (up to 200) during March and early April, with further birds following through to early May – a welcome addition to spring birding around the NNR.
During the last few weeks our ringing team have managed to ring 19 of these birds to date, which will hopefully bring a recovery or two. From previous studies we already know Godwits can make the journey from the LDV to Iceland in 48 hours, and have found out recently that some of the newly arrived birds weigh as little as 165 grams, whilst those that have fed up for longer can leave weighing as much as 371 grams in order to fuel their migration. Many thanks as always to our great team for their efforts.