Well, the Black-tailed Godwits have made their way back to the fens for another breeding season and the fens are once again alive with the sound of Lapwings, Redshank and Snipe.

But, unfortunately, over at the Nene Washes it has been a challenging start to the season for the UK’s most important breeding population of Black-tailed Godwits.  
The heavy rain over the Easter Weekend, coupled with high tides resulted in an extensive flood on site. We know from previous experience that flooding can be very bad news for godwits. The increased frequency of spring flooding at the nearby Ouse Washes was responsible for driving the declines seen at this site in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Through Back from the Brink we have been monitoring the Black-tailed Godwits since they started to return in April. This involves finding nests and monitoring them, as well as potential predators.
Monitoring Black-tailed Godwits is difficult because the nests are very challenging to find in the long grass – and this work has to be undertaken under a special licence from Natural England. We’ve been installing electric fencing to help protect the godwits nests from predators and we’ve also been fitting the birds breeding at the Nene Washes with a unique combination of colour rings.
It has been fantastic to welcome back some of these “old friends” to the washes for another year. We’ve been treated to some very exciting sightings of Black-tailed Godwits ringed at the washes in recent months – including a sighting of a female godwit wintering in Portugal who was almost nineteen years old!

The flooding at the Nene Washes has displaced some of the godwits into nearby agricultural land. We know from previous research that breeding success tends to be low in crop fields. Luckily for the godwits, the very kind farmer has allowed us to collect these eggs for headstarting through Project Godwit, so we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that the eggs successfully hatch over at WWT Welney. We’ll be continuing to monitor the godwits at the Nene Washes and hope that the drier weather forecast over the next few weeks allows the birds to nest back on the washes. We’ll keep you posted on what happens next.

You can help by sending in any sightings of colour ringed birds through our website: projectgodwit.org.uk.

Hope to hear from you soon!


Hannah Ward

Project Officer


Project Godwit is a partnership between RSPB and WWT with major funding from the EU LIFE Nature Programme, HSBC 150th Anniversary fund, Natural England and the Heritage Lottery Fund - through the Back from the Brink programme.
The project aims to secure the future of Black-tailed Godwits in the Fens.


Would you like to help this incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:

  • Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
  • Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
  • Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.

2 thoughts on “Update from the Black-tailed Godwits

  1. Happy to help with this. I am a volunteer warden at Farlington Marshes where there are still numerous BT Godwits. I often see them from October to March from my apartment window in Port Solent. Will keep an eye open for local surveys but let me know if I can help,

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