Monday, February 16, 2015

Black-tailed Godwits

A few days ago, Margaret Scott took this photo of a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits on the Western Yar:

We have about 130 or so Black-tailed Godwits that spend the winter with us before heading back to Iceland to breed. 'Godwit' comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'god wiht' meaning 'good creature', which probably refers to their popularity on the dinner plate! A few years ago I filmed these birds feeding from the Freshwater Causeway:

I love the way in which they use their bills like pneumatic drills. It's recently been discovered that another wader that feeds in a similar way - the Knot - builds up a 3D image of what is below the mud by using the pressure waves generated by this technique, which bounce off solid objects like crustaceans and shells. I suspect the same is possibly true of the Godwit!

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