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Bar-tailed Godwits

Queensland Environment Department
6 April 2021

Do you remember ‘Traveller’ 6RYBR, a migratory Bar-tail Godwit? Well, her story continues…….
Let’s recap… Last September while on patrol Rangers spotted ‘Traveller’ at the Toorbul Roost. She was stopping over to rest and feed. As the story goes, she was very off course from the Manawatu River and estuary on the North Island of New Zealand, near the town of Foxton. She was 2,500km from her normal summer stopover where she has been monitored since 2010.

She was returning from the Kuskokwim Shoals, near the mouth of the Kuskokwim River, in Alaska. After breeding in the vast Tundra wetlands, during the northern hemisphere’s summer. For a while Traveller’s story went quiet to the trepidation of the Rangers. Well, the New Zealand researchers have provided a very welcome update about her travels. She has indeed made the last 2,500km leg home to the Manawatu Estuary, New Zealand. Where she has been observed busily feeding on the mudflats regaining body condition.

Departures of Bar-tailed Godwits are carefully monitored by researchers as the Godwits leave the Manawatu Estuary near Foxton. They noted the first departures began on the 1st of March 2021. Traveller didn’t sign off her passport for departure till the 17th of March. She departed on dusk with 11 other Bar-tailed Godwits, destination Alaska via the Red Sea, China/Korea.
Based on the satellite tags tracks of several other Bar-tail Godwits that left New Zealand at about the same time as Traveller, she has most likely made landfall on the tidal flats of the Red Sea, where she will stage and feed for a while. She has made it halfway. Just 5,000km to go to make the 12,000km return northern migration to Alaska to find a mate to raise the next generation of global travellers, of migratory Bar-tail Godwits.

Thank you to the migratory shorebird Researchers in New Zealand, who have provided this kind update!

David Melville
Undisturbed feeding and resting is essential for the success of migrating shorebirds