Thousands of black-tailed godwits are currently incubating their eggs in Iceland and with recent record temperatures we are keeping our fingers crossed for a good breeding season.
Thousands of black-tailed godwits spend the winter on the Solent coast every year and then migrate to Iceland in the summer to breed. The spring migration usually starts in earnest in April when the birds set off on a 2,000km flight to Iceland. In April we reported that strong northerly winds forced more than 1,000 birds to make an unprecedented stop in the Hebrides.
But by now the black-tailed godwits will have safely arrived in Iceland, found mates and will be incubating their eggs. Throughout June and July the chicks will be hatching and fledging. We are eagerly waiting for reports from Iceland on how successful the breeding season is going this year but past research indicates it could well be a good one! Tomas Gunnarsson from the South Iceland Research Centre, University of Iceland told us “it would be reasonable to predict that this will be a top summer for godwit productivity as we had one of the warmest Mays on record last month”. We are looking forward to hearing the results from the first survey next week.
While we are waiting for more news we are keeping a watchful eye on the birds of the Solent. We have spotted a few black-tailed godwits here throughout the last few months. Most of these will be young birds that are only a year old and not yet ready to breed. Others may not have been in good enough condition to migrate to Iceland and breed this year and so are staying with us for the summer. Hopefully they will be able to improve over the summer and next winter and get back into the breeding populations next year.