Biggest number ever of departing Bar-tailed Godwits

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Biggest number ever of departing Bar-tailed Godwits
From: "Ricki Coughlan" <>
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 2005 19:24:48 +1000
Hi Birders
Up here on Roebuck Bay, Broome, we are currently experiencing the magic of the annual migration of waders, most of whom will end up in northern Asia and Siberia, some well inside the arctic circle, where they will breed before returning for some Aussie sunshine and tucker sometime around September. Their first stop is generally around the region of the Yellow Sea. Being 6,000 kilometers away, this journey usually takes 3 or 4 days flying between 60 and 75 km/h, in which time these fantastic birds will neither eat, sleep nor place a foot on the earth.
On Wednesday night, we experienced the largest known departures of Bar-tailed Godwits in one evening, when around 9,200 birds departed from Roebuck Bay. Departing flocks ranged from an enormous 3,500 individuals, down to around 200 or so. These incredible birds gather on the mudflats in huge and very vocal flocks and, when enough have heeded the call and joined their travelling aprtners, they collectively launch up to test the air. After cirling the bay once or twice, these beautiful birds gain considerable height, all the while summing up conditions before forming massive lines of sometimes up to 300 or more birds. These lines gradually take on the classic huge "V" formations and begin to move off northward.
If you are at all a lover of nature, there is no way that you wont get goosebumps and shed a tear before such magnificence. Having shared the bay for many months almost totally alone with these incredible birds, I find their departure to be a somewhat sad event too and I am already looking forward to welcoming my friends back in September.
Broome Bird Observatory WA
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