Black-tailed Godwit

Anne-Marie Bokslag

Haarlem, Netherlands

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Artist's Description

Featured in the Friends group,
in the PostCard Style group,
in the Wild Nature Photography & Writing group,
in the The Birds group and
in the Nature Photography Challenge group.

Picture taken in the grasslands near Nijkerk, The Netherlands.
Sitting high on a pole to keep an eye on the chicks!

The Black-tailed Godwit (= Grutto in Dutch) is a large wader with long bill (7.5 to 12 cm long), neck and legs. During the breeding season, the bill has a yellowish or orange-pink base and dark tip; the base is pink in winter. The legs are dark grey, brown or black. The sexes are similar, but in breeding plumage, they can be separated by the male’s brighter, more extensive orange breast, neck and head. In winter, adult Black-tailed Godwits have a uniform brown-grey breast and upperparts (in contrast to the Bar-tailed Godwit’s streaked back). Juveniles have a pale orange wash to the neck and breast.

In flight, its bold black and white wingbar and white rump can be seen readily. When on the ground it can be difficult to separate from the similar Bar-tailed Godwit, but the Black-tailed Godwit’s longer, straighter bill and longer legs are diagnostic. Black-tailed Godwits are similar in body size and shape to Bar-tailed, but stand taller.

It measures 42 cm from bill to tail with a wingspan of 70–82 cm. Males weigh around 280 g and females 340 g. The female is around 5 % larger than the male, with a bill 12-15% longer. The most common call is a strident weeka weeka weeka. A study of Black-tailed Godwits in the Netherlands found a mortality rate of 37.6 % in the first year of life, 32 % in the second year, and 36.9 % thereafter.

In Europe, Black-tailed Godwits are only hunted in France, with the annual total killed estimated at 6,000 to 8,000 birds. This puts additional pressure on the western European population, and the European Commission has a management plan in place for the species in its member states. In England, Black-tailed Godwits were formerly much prized for the table. Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) said: “[Godwits] were accounted the daintiest dish in England and I think, for the bignesse, of the biggest price.” Old names included Blackwit, Shrieker, Barker and Jadreka Snipe. The Icelandic name for the species is Jaðrakan.

IUCN Red List near threatened species

Canon EOS 7D
Canon Zoom lens EF 100-400mm 1: 4.5-5.6 L IS US
Exposure time 1/90s
Aperture value f/6,7
ISO 800
Focal length 400mm

Artwork Comments

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