28th September 2011


Godwit Storytime
Hi All, now that everyone is settling back to school life and work after the summer holidays we thought it would be nice to highlight a neat story of a colour ringed godwit spotted in Dublin recently by Siobhan McNamara and posted on Drimnagh BirdWatch Blog on the 14th September. It is a great example of the teamwork involved in the project and how it generates such amazing information and stories. Over to Siobhan:

Remember this photo from Saturday?
When I wrote down the tags from the tagged Black Tailed Godwit in with c.300 others, Bull Island, Dublin?

Black-tailed Godwit with tags Red, Black, Yellow, X (photo © Siobhan McNamara)

I asked Helen Boland (IWeBS Co-ordinator, Birdwatch Ireland) if she knew who I could report the tags to and straight away she gave me the email address of Pete Potts in the UK as someone who was probably involved with the ringing. (How on the ball and helpful was that?!).
I sent off my email and it turned out that Helen was spot on, in hardly anytime at all Pete emailed me back the following info:

Many thanks for the godwit record much appreciated.
RN YX is a bird we ringed in Siglufjordur on 11th July 2009 as an adult female and was seen on Tiree on 1st Aug 09 and then in ublin 08/10/09 and again there Aug & Sept 2010. I wonder where it winters?

I had to look up where Tiree was (it's a small island in the Scottish Hebredies) and I google mapped Siglufjordur which is the very north of Iceland.

In nerdy fashion I've made this map to show the flight path of the female Godwit, (hopefully there should be blue placemarks you can click on to give reported tag dates).

In addition to this info, Mark Carmody also spotted the photo of the tagged Godwit and emailed Rosemary who runs the brilliant Dublin's Tolka Branch website.
I received this forwarded email this morning:

"I noticed from the website that Siobhan McNamara had a ringed Black-tailed Godwit on the Bull island on the 10th September. The combination rang a bell with me so I checked my photographs. I was delighted that I did. I took a photograph of the bird just after it was ringed in Siglufjörður in northern Iceland on 11th July 2009!! The photograph is attached. Jim Wilson and I were in Iceland for 6 days taking photographs for the Shorebirds of Ireland book and we were helping Pete Potts and his crew ring some godwits while we were there.
Please post this up on the website as it makes an interesting story and raises the importance of checking the godwit flocks here in winter for ringed birds. If you could also pass this email onto Siobhan as I don't have her email address, I would appreciate it.
Best Regards,
Mark Carmody.

How about that then?!
It turns out that Mark personally held and released the very same Godwit in Iceland in 2009.

...........and there's the tags I spotted on Saturday ©Mark Carmody

So there you go.
From taking the initiative to record a tag, and with the help of Helen Boland, Pete Potts, Rosemary and Mark Carmody we end up with a bit of background to a bird which could easily have been glanced over as 'just another bird'.
Which it is, but now I know the history I delete the 'just' and award the bird some Respect for the journeys I now know she's managed to survive and the experiences she must have had along the way (for example, successfully dodging the Peregrine the day I saw her).
Through tagging and subsequent reporting not only are we helping important bird protection/conservation work, but we also get to hear a bit about the bird's story, something which if you're anything like me, you're likey to find very interesting.

Seeing as our Godwit friend hasn't ever been reported over Winter, Mark wonders if she moves even further down south to France or Portugal for the winter months?
In the interests of research I suggest we all get the first flights over to these places (bagsie Portugal) and keep an eye out for the Godwit.

Or - just keep an eye out at Bull Island (Dublin, Ireland) and if this bird is spotted during Nov/Dec/Jan, let someone know.

Thanks to the following :
Helen Boland - IWebs Co-ordinator, Birdwatch Ireland - IWeBS
Pete Potts - 'Godwit King' - email Godwit sightings to pmpotts@tiscali.co.uk
Rosemary - Editor of Tolka Branch website (great resource for Dublin Sightings/Events)
Mark Carmody - provided all images for Shorebirds of Ireland (new book 'Freshwater Birds of Ireland' out October 2011!) and his flickr page has amazing photos.


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