Monday, 3 February 2014

White Godwit

Every year around September/October the Ohiwa Harbour receives up to 3,00 visitors from Siberia. They fly direct on a journey that takes them 9 days and during that time they don't stop to eat or drink. They are Bar-tailed Godwits and they make the longest journey of any migratory bird. Once they arrive at Ohiwa they spend the summer getting fat on the abundance of molluscs and worms that thrive in the shallow waters of the estuary.
  Late last year I received a phone call from my friends Meg and Mike who live overlooking the harbour to say there was a white Godwit among the flock. They kindly lent me a kayak and I paddled off at high tide to get some photos. The birds disperse to feed at low-tide and during high tide they park up in a large flock on the sand spit to rest.
  It wasn't easy getting the photos as the white bird was right in the centre of the group. When I finally got a little close and spooked them into flight I noticed the pale godwit did have some colouring so it confirmed that the specimen was an example of Leucism rather than Albinism. In albinos there is a total absence of pigment and these individuals tend to be less robust in terms of health. This white bird looked to be in fine form, a very healthy Godwit and quite beautiful.
                           Ohiwa Harbour
                            White Godwit
                            Black backed Gull
                            White faced Heron and Shag
                            A Godwit wearing a leg band. (AHS)
                              Godwit food! (yuck)

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