Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

General birdwatching discussion, help with bird identification, and all other things relating to wild birds and birding in NZ that don't fit in one of the other forums.
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philbattley
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Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

Postby philbattley » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:25 am

Hi folks, yesterday afternoon the Manawatu Estuary Trust ran a Farewell to the Godwits event. These are normally done on decent big tides, but as these always occur in the morning in this part of NZ, there is a zero chance of actually seeing birds depart. This year I suggested that they/we try something different, and meet in the later afternoon on a neap tide, when there might be a flock going. Things were good for migration this weekend, with flocks going on Friday and Saturday afternoons, but some birds were still calling on Sunday morning (Jesse Conklin is out there doing daily monitoring for an 11th season so could provide this info). About 40 people turned up at 3:30 and got to see a pre-departure subflock form on the tide edge, and hear the background chatter of godwits calling. Then at 4:50 pm the flock took off, and 18 birds flew across in front of us, got into formation, headed east for a bit then turned and flew right across in front of the crowd in a perfect vee, which could be followed until lost from sight as it headed out over the pine trees towards the Tasman Sea. It was absolutely perfect.

I suspect that this could be the first time a farewell event has been run in the later afternoon, and may therefore be the first to actually farewell some godwits. Could this be true? Has anyone attended (or run) a farewell to the godwits when a flock has actually taken off on their 10,000-km flight?

Cheers, Phil
barg departure 11032018_MG_1708 1280w us2.jpg
Godwits migrating, Manawatu Estuary 11/03/18
barg departure 11032018_MG_1708 1280w us2.jpg (705.82 KiB) Viewed 992 times
terryow
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Re: Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

Postby terryow » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:02 pm

As someone who was there, I cannot thank Phil enough for sharing his knowledge with us. It was an experience never to be repeated.
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zarkov
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Re: Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

Postby zarkov » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:52 pm

The Riverton Godwits I saw this morning need to get their act together.

i don't know why you'd fly so far to reach NZ, then fly 3000km further south to get down here.
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philbattley
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Re: Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

Postby philbattley » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:13 pm

You obviously don't work for Southland tourism! Great outdoors, lots of space, you won't overheat when covered in fat... When we had Peter Langlands monitoring godwits in the Catlins there was a big exodus around 5-7 March each year and on average birds departed 11 days earlier than at Foxton. Might be that the first wave of birds has already gone.

Andrew Crossland reports that their Christchurch farewell are typically late afternoon endeavours and they have seen departures over the years, so answering my question.

Cheers, Phil
andrewcrossland
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Re: Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

Postby andrewcrossland » Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:28 pm

There's 2 very good reason godwits snd other migratory waders fly to Southland:
(1) jhsve a look at a map of Southland's coastline - not many parts of NZ match it for wader habitat, and in the south island only tasman bay-golden bay and central Canterbury support similar or greater wader numbers.

(2) southland is closer to the yellow sea than auckland is if you're a wader flying via Australia rather than direct. Again, look at a map....
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philbattley
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Re: Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

Postby philbattley » Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:00 pm

Well, I'd say it's equidistant +/- 100 km for a bird going via the Gulf of Carpentaria...
andrewcrossland
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Re: Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

Postby andrewcrossland » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:21 pm

indeed, but my point is made I hope? Rather than Southland being a further 3000km southwards for a godwit or other wader to fly (as someone mentioned in an earlier post on this string), its actually almost exactly the same distance. And jumping "the ditch" can involve a substantially lesser distance if its between SE Australia and the southern South Island than a crossing any further north....

For example, Miranda to that really cool looking bit on the western side of the Gulf of Carpentaria is 4446 km, while from Riverton Estuary in Southland to the same spot is 4441 km.

auck to carpen.JPG
auck to carpen.JPG (66.19 KiB) Viewed 472 times


Oz to riverton.JPG
Oz to riverton.JPG (71.93 KiB) Viewed 472 times


For the benefit of those northerners out there who have lived under the illusion they are much closer to the rest of the World than those poor souls in deepest darkest Southland, here's some distance comparisons that may come as a surprise:

Corner Inlet, Victoria to Riverton Estuary, Southland = 1951 km
to Miranda = 2534 km
to Parengarenga Harbour = 2408 km
to Ohiwa Harbour = 2669 km
to Farewell Spit = 2257 km

Moreton Bay, Queensland to Riverton Estuary = 2446 km
to Miranda = 2306 km
to Parengarenga Harbour = 2010 km
to Ohiwa Harbour = 2494 km
to Farewell Spit = 2280 km

takes a bit to get one's head around eh?
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philbattley
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Re: Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

Postby philbattley » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:05 am

Yes, that point has been made, but with regard to godwits, as they come across the Pacific Southland is undeniably 1500 km further south than the Far North. Whether that is an issue for them is another point. We have tracked a few birds from the Catlins and while one evidently made a 10 h stop before then flying a further 10 h to the Catlins another went direct, well over 12,000 km. I doubt that the distances within New Zealand make any appreciable difference to shorebirds capable of traversing the globe. Personally, I think that Southland is great!
Phil
andrewcrossland
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Re: Great Farewell to the Godwits at Manawatu

Postby andrewcrossland » Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:24 pm

Tim Shabolt seems to think so too!

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