Bird Number 1:During the winter we have a very good wintering flock of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits at RSPB Rainham Marshes with upwards of 500 birds utilising the Thames between Grays and Barking Bay with us sandwiched in between.

Big flock - Les Harrison

They can often be seen on the foreshore and noisy chattering groups and will sometimes come onto the marsh at high tide to feed or head to the Concrete Barges to safely rest up for a few hours.

The Barges Roost - Dave McGough

Colour-ringed birds are regularly to be seen and I have recently had the history back on one seen in late April 2017 as she was heading back north to her southern Icelandic breeding grounds at Austurey roughly 1160 miles away.

Icelandic marked bird

Right leg Green over White

Left leg Red over White - pic by me

Her colour ring combination points to her being caught and tagged on 25th May 2010 and she has been seen back there on several occasions over the ensuing years as well being seen at numerous locations across England including our reserves at Pagham Harbour in Sussex, Cliffe Pools in Kent and Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire. She has even visited our reserve before, in August 2015.

I wonder where she will turn up next?

Bird Number 2: I also had news back on another colour ringed bird from the same spring but this one had a coloured flag as well as rings. It also felt slightly different with a heavier bill with a nice orangey, instead of pink base.

I speculated at the time as to whether it may have actually been of the nominate race Limosa limosa limosa that breeds on the continent in places like the Dutch polders (and sporadically in the Cambridgeshire Fens) rather than the Limosa limosa islandica race that winters across the UK in large numbers.

Dutch marked bird - Clive Watts

Right leg Blue flag over Blue & Blue

Left leg Yellow over Blue

Much to my delight this has proved to be the case. It was ringed on the 10th June 2015 at It Heidenskip in the Netherlands (245 miles from here) and by July that year it had already been seen at Oare Marshes in Kent. It has returned to its breeding ground each year since with the visit in late March 2017 being the only other UK sighting.

Amazingly this may prove to be the first confirmed record of this race of Black-tailed Godwit in Essex and London.

More digging to be done…

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