- Limosa lapponica
37–41 cm (14½-16 in)
In breeding plumage: belly rufous with no or little barring, upperparts dark, and bill slightly upturned, dark with paler base.
In non-breeding plumage: breast finely streaked grey, belly whitish, back grey with streaking, bill bicoloured with pink base, and long supercilium extending back past eye.
In juvenile plumage: breast pale buff-grey, back patterned with white and buffy-grey, upturned bill bicoloured, and long supercilium extending back past eye.
In flight: inner wings grey, outer wing dark grey; no wingbar. Tail finely barred grey. Rump and lower back white or grey, depending on subspecies.
Western birds (more or less the first three subspecies) have white on rump, lower back and underwing; subspecies from further east have barring on these areas with the ones from eastern Siberia and Alaska strongly barred grey.
Black-tailed Godwit, which has a straighter bill, solid black tail tip, and strong white wingbar (see comparison image); and from Eurasian Curlew and Whimbrel which both have down-curved beaks.
- Breeds in northern Palearctic: extreme northern Scandinavia (Norway, Finland, limited in Sweden), Arctic Russia (Kola Peninsula eastwards), and Alaska.
- Migration most active March to early June (south to north), and August-October (north to south). Seen regularly en route through the Baltic Sea, North Sea, and Atlantic coasts. Rare to find any distance inland.
- Winters to southern Africa and Australasia. Immature birds (one year old) often remain in the wintering range for their entire first summer.
Vagrant north to Svalbard, Iceland and the Faroe Islands; Cyprus and eastern Mediterranean countries; Madeira and the Azores. Casual vagrant in North America on both coasts.
Five subspecies currently accepted:
- L. l. lapponica:
- breeds from northern Scandinavia east to the Kanin Peninsula (northwestern Russia); winters from the North Sea, western Iberia, and northwestern Africa south to western South Africa
- L. l. yamalensis:
- Breeds on the northern West-Siberian Plain, including the Yamal Peninsula and the lower Ob River Valley; winter range incompletely known, but extends from Oman east to western India, and probably the east coast of Africa, perhaps south to South Africa
- L. l. taymyrensis:
- Breeds north central Siberia, roughly from the lower Yenisei River Valley east to the lower Anabar River Valley; winter range incompletely known but primarily coasts of West Africa
- L. l. menzbieri:
- L. l. anadyrensis:
- breeds eastern Siberia (Chukotka and Anadyr lowlands); winters in Australia, possibly also New Zealand
- L. l. baueri:
- North-eastern Siberia to western Alaska; winters coastal China to New Zealand.
- Coastal estuaries and sheltered sandy shores.
- Arctic breeding habitat is lowland tundra; sometimes in upland areas and among trees.
A very strong migrant; L. l. baueri makes the longest non-stop flights of any bird, over 11,500 km from Alaska to New Zealand during autumn migration (but two stages on spring migration, with a stop-over on the east coast of China).
Very gregarious in the winter, forming huge flocks with other waders at the water's edge.
The diet includes worms, snails and insects.
It nests on the ground, usually in short vegetation, in marshy areas above the tree-line.
Click images to see larger version
Subspecies L. l. taymyrensis showing tail-bars
By Alok Tewari
Jamnagar, West Coast, Gujarat , India, 19 December 2017
Bar-tailed Godwit left, Black-tailed Godwit right
Photo © by Andy Hall
Texel, Netherlands, 11 May 2019
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GSearch checked for 2020 platform.