Black-tailed godwits back from Africa, and storks


Today, north of the railway station, greenfinch sound. A jay, sitting on the bicycle track, flies away.

I am going again to where the Baillon’s crakes nested years ago.

I did not expect to see, and in fact did not see, these rare birds here again this afternoon. Like many other migratory birds from Eurasia, the Baillon’s crakes are probably still in Africa, and will migrate back later in spring.

However, quite some other birds have already returned from their deep southern winter quarters. I saw hundreds of black-tailed godwits.

Probably, just back from Africa. Or maybe from Portugal and Spain: rather recently, a minority of black-tailed godwits decided to winter in the ricefields etc. of the Iberian peninsula. Because climate change makes southern European winters warmer? Climate change brings grave problems for tropical birds; is the black-tailed godwit one of few species to benefit from warming, as its migration distance may become shorter? There are still no definite answers to those questions.

Were those black-tailed godwits just back from the Gambia? Probably not, or maybe just a few of them. I did not see any black-tailed godwit while in the Gambia; only their bar-tailed godwit relatives. Guinea-Bissau, just south of the Gambia, is an important black-tailed wintering area.

In late winter-early spring, black-tailed godwits migrate back to the north. They migrate in big groups, arriving in areas like this nature reserve. A bit later, the big groups break up, as they scatter to the various nesting grounds.

I saw another species, traditionally migrating to Africa, as well: two white storks walking not far away from the northern bench. However, quite some storks do not migrate south as a result of a re-introduction program which used to provide them with food in winter. While I sit on the bench, one of the storks flies past me with a leafy twig in its bill. Probably, it nests not so far away.

As I had arrived at the northern reserve entrance, I had first noted many Canada and gray lag geese.

And scores of teal. And shoveler ducks. Males and females; some bobbing their heads, as a sign that they are in love.

Moorhens.

A bit further north: gadwall ducks.

Great cormorants. Mallards. Shelducks.

Male and female tufted ducks.

In the northern meadow, four hares. Two oystercatchers. Scores of coots. Some gadwall ducks.

In the water: three great crested grebes.

On the muddy island opposite the bench: between over a hundred godwits and scores of northern lapwings and black-headed gulls, a redshank.

Seven common pochards, male and female, swimming not far away.

Many mole hills.

A dead coot near the bank of the northern canal.

A living Egyptian goose on the opposite site of the water.

Birding in British Columbia – Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica): here.

17 thoughts on “Black-tailed godwits back from Africa, and storks

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