Welcome home! Headstarted godwits return to the fens

Well, what a wonderful week that was.

Yellow White Green Lime (E), named “Delph” by the Project Team becomes the first headstarted black-tailed godwit to return to the fens. Photo Louise Clewley/WWT.

In June last year, we released 26 juvenile black-tailed godwits at WWT Welney in the hope that they would return to the fens in future years. Last Friday, we got some very exciting news. One of the headstarted godwits was spotted, in front of the main observatory hide at WWT Welney, just metres from where he was released. This special godwit – colour ring combination YW-GL(E) – has been named “Delph” by the project team, after the river which runs behind the area where he was spotted. Delph was last seen previously in February on the Tagus Estuary in Portugal.

And then there were two! Another headstarted bird, “Nelson” is spotted by the team at WWT Welney.

Then, in quick succession, another two headstarted birds were spotted. “Nelson” was seen showing well at the Nelson-Lyle hide at WWT Welney, and “Manea” was spotted over at the RSPB Ouse Washes. We weren’t necessarily expecting any of the headstarted birds to return this summer so this is a wonderful and welcome surprise. Black-tailed godwits don’t usually breed until they’re two years old, so we may have to wait until next summer to see if any of the headstarted birds attempt to breed. But nonetheless, this is fantastic milestone for the Project Godwit team, and we’re delighted that these birds have made it safely back to the fens. Interestingly, one of our females, “Remi”, has been seen in Belgium. Females tend to disperse further than males so it will be very interesting to see if she stays in Belgium and attempts to breed.

More birds could return to the washes and surrounding areas over the coming days and weeks. All of the godwits released under the headstarting programme have a colour ring with the letter “E” stamped on it. If you think you might have seen a bird, please get in touch via our sightings page https://projectgodwit.org.uk/get-involved/report-a-sighting/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.