Black-tailed Godwit

This part of my webpage is dedicated to my friend and colleague Heather Gibbs without whom my project would be considerably less effective and productive than it is. Heather and her dedication and constant help to me, GFN and indeed shorebirds throughout the EAAF will be sorely missed.

The idea for this section of the GFN website is to show the ecology of the study species though their   ‘life histories’.Read more »

These are generated from the multiple sightings of marked birds once they are banded and released back in to the wild. Then due to intensive resighting work the life history of individuals is built up. Some birds are seen very regularly on the northern shores of Roebuck Bay where they were banded. Some ‘disappear’ and show up years later. Some move about 160km to the south west and make 80 Mile Beach their home and we see them when we conduct resighting work, counts and banding there. Some ‘live’ at 80 Mile Beach but visit Roebuck bay for a month before they depart for China on their northward migration.  Some Red Knot are banded in Broome and then head off to New Zealand to spend the rest of their non-breeding seasons there. WE can follow our young birds and our old birds. GFN’s work in Bohai Bay generates a remarkable set of sightings and other shorebird researchers and enthusiasts send records from throughout the East Asian-Australasian Flyway that helps us build up an accurate picture of some individual’s migration strategies, non-breeding location preferences and other aspects of their ecology.

GFN now has a post-doctoral researcher Dr Tamar Lok from the University of Groningen employed to do the hard science but I want to get out to my volunteers and the wider shorebird world some of the information that the project has generated from resighting work.

I will use the ‘resighting history’ page from the GFN database and give an overview of a few different individuals. The resighting history looks a little difficult to follow at first but is really very simple. I urge you to have a look through the ones I use.



GFN commenced colour-banding Black-tailed Godwits on July 5 2010. Black-tailed Godwit are much less predictable in their occurrence on the northern shores of Roebuck Bay than the other study species and consequently more difficult to catch. This may be to do with their eagerness to roost on salt pans behind the mangroves, in the north east corner of the Bay. They also move in response to rainfall more readily than Bar-tailed Godwit and the two knot species. In 2012 between mid-August and mid-October there were approximately 2000 roosting on the northern shores of the bay but after some early rains, inland from Broome, they all but disappeared.  However when they do use the northern shores they are predictable in that they will only use the eastern beaches of the northern shores unless there is very heavy disturbance from people or birds of prey.

The only records of Black-tailed Godwits on southward migration are two records from the west coast of Kamchatka.