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Godwit's reed

Numbers of black-tailed godwits in the area are starting to rise as unsuccessful breeders return from Iceland.

The numbers of Black-tailed Godwit are rapidly rising in the Solent with flocks of 135 at Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve and over 300 on the New Forest Coast already recorded this month. These are most likely to be adult birds who have failed to breed this year and have taken a head start in migrating south.

Hopefully there are good numbers of successfully breeding adults still in their Iceland breeding grounds raising their chicks. We are eagerly awaiting news from our Icelandic colleagues on what was anticipated to be a good breeding season.

Meanwhile in balmy Siberia the dark-bellied Brent geese, having arrived in June to sleet and temperatures barely creeping above freezing, have been experiencing 25 degree heat in the last days. This is far in excess of the normal daytime temperatures of 15 degrees for that area in July. It’s worth their while making the 3,500 mile journey to these distant breeding grounds because of the huge numbers of protein-rich insects there which they can feed their young in a bid to fatten them up quickly for the winter.

The Brent geese eggs will have been laid in mid June and incubation takes around 25 days, so the first chicks should now be emerging. These chicks will fledge in about 6 weeks by which time the adults would have moulted their flight feather and become flightless. Their return migration will start once the adults have regrown their feathers after a few weeks.

A lot to pack into a brief Siberian summer! Such is the life of a bird that breeds in the Arctic.