Event planned to farewell godwits

Tanya Jenkins.
Tanya Jenkins.
Tanya Jenkins, of the Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Trust, writes about an event to commemorate the departure of the godwits.

Farewell to the amazing godwit birds who will soon be leaving for Alaska.

In September each year as many as 2000 godwits birds fly non-stop from their breeding grounds in Alaska to spend  summer here with us.

This journey is 12,000km and takes eight days and nights.

But it is time to say farewell as they will soon depart again to return to Alaska for another breeding season. Right now, they are feeding as much and fast as they possibly can to gain enough weight to survive the long journey back.

The males will have to make an extra effort to produce their stunning golden brown “breeding plumage” in time for the departure.

This is a vital time for us to ensure our dogs are always on a lead when walking along the estuary edge as not to disturb them.

Hundreds of godwits travel across the globe each year to spend their summer at South Shore Spit....
Hundreds of godwits travel across the globe each year to spend their summer at South Shore Spit. They will soon depart and return to Alaska. Photo: Clive Collins ​
Research has shown that every time birds are disturbed it takes approximately 40min of nervous flying around before they feel safe enough to settle and continue to feed.

If this happens several times a day they are at risk of not being able to gain enough energy to complete the 14,000km journey back. Yes, it’s even longer than when they return as they fly back via the Yellow Sea for one stop to top up on food before the last leg.

The Estuary Trust together with the city council commemorates this amazing annual feat this year on Sunday. You are warmly invited to join a gathering at Southshore Spit Reserve (end of Rockinghorse Rd).

From 5.30pm there will be a free sausage sizzle and drink stall, live music and free “paint a godwit garden ornament ” for children to take home.

The Estuary Trust will have an information stall to answer any questions you have on the godwit and “everything estuary.”

At 6pm, councillor James Daniels will provide a karakia before Mayor Lianne Dalziel welcomes us.

City council park ranger Andrew Crossland will provide us with facts and figures of the godwits before we are taken on a guided walk to view the birds up close.

Parking will be available or take the No 60 Bus that leaves every 30min from the Bus Exchange.

More information about the event can be found here.

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