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Black-tailed Godwit

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Can be seen all year round but is more common in winter.


Photograph by: 
Ian Ballam

Black-tailed Godwit: blackwit or barwit?

Post date: Wednesday, 5 February, 2014 - 00:00

This is a wader that we see a lot of down here in Dorset, especially around Poole Harbour which is recognised as an internationally important site for them. The black-tailed godwit (limosa limosa) can be seen here all year round but in winter the numbers grow considerably with northern birds coming south and In most years there are over 700 present in the harbour. One of the best places to see them is the lagoon on Brownsea Island, but large numbers can often be seen at low tide from the Coombe Heath walk at Arne or from the hide near the National Trust cottages at Middlebere.

There are two godwit species here during the winter, the black-tailed (this one) and the bar-tailed. The black-tailed is by far the most numerous but they are not easy to tell apart on the ground, the black-tailed having a longer neck and longer legs than its cousin. In flight it is easier as the black tail of the black-tailed is much more visible, so too the white flashes on the wings. Apart from telling the two godwits apart they should not really be confused with other waders, that long straight beak being unique, the curlew and whimbrel have beaks that curve downwards.

It is lovely to see a massed flock of these birds in flight, but that is probably true of most waders come to think of it.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Black-tailed Godwit
Scientific Name Limosa limosa
Status Locally common
Interest Level
Species Family Sandpipers
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Mudflats
Look for A tall wader with a long straight bill, usually in a large flock
Additional Identification Notes
  • Poole Harbour is one of the main overwintering locations for this species but it can also be seen in Christchurch harbour, on the Fleet and of a couple of other places
  • Can be seen sometimes in flocks of hundreds feeding at low tide and making a wonderful display should they take off
  • In early spring or early autumn some birds may display their smart summer plumage which is predominately a chestnut brown