Being currently in isolation with Covid-19. It has been a very challenging week both logistically and health-wise, for myself and my wife, who has also now is suffering with it. If you are using RAT tests use the Aussie made ones as particular Chinese brands are unreliable and causing many to detect it by other methods too late, having passed the infection on thinking they were negative. However, thank the Lord ! I have been able to issue this post as I appear to be on the mend.

Two weeks ago, I checked out my favorite local flock of Bar-tailed Godwit while they were busily gorging themselves, as they made preparation for their long migration back to Alaska and Siberia via the Asian coastline to breed and escape our winter. They will most likely have flown or be flying off this week. The journey is about 16,000 km. They will return in Spring making an epic 6 to 8 day non stop journey across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to eastern Australia and New Zealand.

the journey

In my book What Birds Teach Us these birds are honored for their quality of Endurance.

During late March and early April the mature male Godwits begin to develop their bright orange breeding plumage, while the females (slightly larger birds) develop mild breeding plumage later. These birds will mate here and in Alaska and the Siberian tundra, where they will nest and fledge their young, as they feed upon the krill rich waters there during the Alaskan summer.

During these weeks the Godwits furiously feed to fatten themselves up for the long flight north. Their slightly upturned beaks are sunk deep in the wet river sand on the mudflats at low tide, where they us a jackhammer like action to extract the tiny crustaceans that lie hidden beneath.

Here is some old footage to demonstrate…

Jackhammer technique

The Australian Pied Oystercatcher that was sharing their beach was watching the Godwits and even seemed to attempt to copy them at times. The Australian Pied and Sooty Oystercatcher also use a similar jackhammer technique to extract crustaceans and oysters from rocks.

Again here is some old footage to demonstrate the jackhammer technique by a Sooty Oystercatcher. Oystercatchers and Godwits are often seen together on this beach, when the Oystercatcher is not on the reef.

Sooty Oystercatcher demonstrating jackhammer technique

As you can see the Silver Gull (our most common seagull found throughout Australia, even in arid areas, is slightly larger than the Godwit. I once found one standing alone on the salt of the South Australian desert area of Lake Eyre, about 12 years ago, when the lake had recently filled.

The younger Godwits that are only a year old may not return this year but spend the winter here with other immatures and some older birds that do not feel up to the trip. In June I will usually find a small group of immature birds keeping close to each other as they forage during winter. They will spend the evenings across the Georges River at the shorebird reserve.

a beautiful wingspread as the female looks on

Though Godwits are not yet Endangered they are rapidly heading that way as they are becoming reduced in numbers each year due to the clearing by humans of their roosting and feeding habitats. Many of their feeding stops in Asia have been and are being filled in and reclaimed for industry. As these stops are the prescribed stops etched into the DNA of these birds, as well as many other migratory waders, for thousands of years, when they arrive at these feeding stops to find them reduced or gone they have to carry on underfed and sometimes do not make the journey, as these birds are waders and do not swim. BirdLife International are putting forth a voice for these birds, and are also fighting to stop poachers of these birds who snare and kill them to sell in the local Asian markets, by providing education and assistance to farm birds and have the the poachers legally commit to stop the poaching. Support BirdLife International to help save our waders.


Have a most enjoyable week, and hopefully the delight of spotting another lifer. The great feature of birding is that birds can turn up anywhere at any time, which means they can fill our lives with surprise and expectancy, like Forrest’s box of chocolates.

If this is your first visit to my blog, welcome ! Please feel free to explore my many pages and topics via the Home Page. If you are new to birding and want some helpful tips click below:

The last section of my second book Flight of a Fledgling explores the value of birding as a hobby shared by couples experiencing empty nest. It also has a helpful list of requirements for a good birdwatching outing. This unique book is available here online or in any of these 50 stores.


The Bar-tailed Godwit, like many migratory waders, know to make appropriate preparation before leaving on their long journey northward. If they fail to fatten themselves adequately to increase their energy stores, they know they may fail to make the journey to their next stop and destination without becoming exhausted from depletion of energy. This could result in them falling into the ocean and drowning, as they cannot swim. This preparation before flying is crucially important before their return journey when they will need to be airborne for 6 to 8 days without landing or feeding as they fly directly over the Pacific Ocean to Australia.

the flight

These bird teaches us the need to prepare for what is ahead in our lives, not just materially or financially, but emotionally and spiritually also. In one of the closing chapters to my second book Flight of a Fledgling, I draw on the importance of preparing for our last long journey of no return, when we depart in spirit from this world, and the need for hope to give us a positive steer to navigate us toward this inevitable event we all must face. This chapter shares the importance of leaving a legacy of love, not only materially but also emotionally and relationally and how having a good perspective of our life journey and conclusion will enable and encourage us to do the journey well..

As a young man, I had the following words postered on my bedroom wall, which are quoted from Jim Elliot’s personal journal, before the fatal spear wound which took his life.

One encouraging writing on the hope which many of us await fulfillment is in the apostle Paul’s writings: Romans 8:18-25

Like it or not, history proves that the formula remains for a healthy happy life: faith+hope+love= Life. We cannot live or function effectively without all three well placed in each of us, nor can our families, communities or nations.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthinans 13:13 (NLT)

In our country, we are able to each respectfully enjoy the freedom to follow our own belief system of faith, hope and love, which in turn influences how we think, act and feel. Having a hope that has a firm historical basis with time proven truths, is constantly being verified by scientific discoveries and that takes one beyond the grave, is a great motivation for one to leave a legacy of love.

 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” – Romans 8:22-25 (NIV)

6 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the interesting post on one of my favourite birds, Ashley. I had seen a report online that these birds were sighted close by to my home, but whenever I have been there, I haven’t spotted them, which was most disappointing. I will probably have to wait until they return in spring now, but now I know where to look for them. Hope you and your wife recover well from the dreaded covid. All the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sue, that’s great that they travel so far south. The best time to see them is low tide, so check the tide chart before coming to the spot. They are sometimes difficult to see from a distance, I have to look hard to see them on a long low tide. Thanks Sue we are still recovering both of us, as our symptoms seem to drag on. Enjoy your week my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, It is remarkable observation, even Jeremiah notes it in Jeremiah 8:7 “Even the birds in the sky know the right times to do things. The storks, doves, swifts, and thrushes know when it is time to migrate.”

      Like

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