Thousands of godwits migrate to Norfolk

L-R: Godwit flock taking flight CREDIT Nigel Cooke/WWT;

L-R: Godwit flock taking flight CREDIT Nigel Cooke/WWT; - Credit: Archant

They come each year from the frozen far north to our – currently – not so frozen east.

Now, experts are urging people to enjoy to spectacle of thousands of black-tailed godwits as they arrive in our region.

The birds undertake the same migration as the whooper swans, spending their summer months breeding in the Icelandic wilderness and returning to sites such as the Welney Wetland Centre, near Downham Market, to escape the cold.

Some of them sport a variety of coloured leg rings and two of the individuals spotted this winter were first ringed in 1998.

The wetland centre's marketing officer, Emma Brand, said: 'Watching these birds as they take to the sky is amazing.

'They move just like starlings, grouping together to evade birds of prey.

'But when the sun is shining, the white wing bars on these particular birds catch the light and shimmer, making them look like shoals of fish.'

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Jennifer Gill, professor of applied ecology at the University of East Anglia, said Welney was an incredibly important site for Icelandic black-tailed godwits.

She added: 'The sightings of individual godwits that we have marked over the last 20 years have contributed hugely to our understanding of how migratory birds select sites throughout the range, and the consequences of those site choices for those birds.'

WWT Welney's page -

Which birds will you be looking forward to spotting? Email