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Bar-tailed godwit

Limosa lapponica

All about bar-tailed godwit

Bar-tailed godwits fly to the Solent in the autumn from the high Arctic: their nearest summer breeding grounds are in Scandinavia.

You will see bar-tailed godwits in large, often noisy, flocks. They feed by making fast probing movements in the mud: sometimes it looks like they don’t stop walking while they feed. They eat marine worms and molluscs.

When they fly in to roost, they often roll and twist through the sky.

The best way to tell bar-tailed godwit apart from the black-tailed godwit is that they do not have white wing bars in flight; when on the ground you can see they have shorter legs and their beaks are slightly upcurved.

Local spotlight

Much scarcer than the similar species of black-tailed godwit, with Solent numbers between 300 and 600 throughout the peak months of December to March. Numbers are unfortunately decreasing.

Conservation status

Bar-tailed godwit are amber listed in the UK.

Bar-tailed godwit are a qualifying feature for the Chichester and Langstone Harbours Special Protection Area – that means, when the site was designated, a nationally significant number of this species use our coastlines in the winter.

Find out more about the Special Protection Areas on the Solent.

Did you know?

In October 2022 a juvenile bar-tailed godwit flew 13,560 kilometres from Alaska to the Australian state of Tasmania without stopping, appearing to set a new world record for marathon bird flights.

Learn about the Solent’s other wading birds.