Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Black-tailed Godwit

Limosa limosa

Currently only
breeding pairs in the UK
Extinct in England for
Can live more than

What is a Black-tailed Godwit?

In coastal lagoons and estuaries, or a few wetlands such as the Washes in Cambridgeshire, you might spot a large wading bird with an unfeasibly long, straight beak. The female’s beak is longer than the male’s – which means they don’t compete for the same food.

These birds are threatened with global extinction in the near future. The UK is home to a small breeding population, of around 60 pairs.

Why are they in trouble?

These birds need wetlands to breed. Land drainage, habitat loss and hunting, over many years, eventually caused their loss as a breeding species. From the 1940s they bred regularly again on the Ouse Washes, later colonising the nearby Nene Washes. These tiny populations are very vulnerable to spring flooding, which can wash away their ground nests, as well as predation of eggs and chicks.

How we will help the Black-tailed Godwit

This Back from the Brink partnership is being delivered by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT). We will find out more about what is influencing the number of chicks produced on the Nene Washes, which is the most important site in the UK for Black-tailed Godwits. We will trial ways to reduce the impact of predators, and provide more good habitat. This means more wet features, such as “scrapes” (shallow wet areas) and pools, which should help ensure the birds have a place to breed, even in drier years.

What we’re aiming for

This project aims to ensure the future of Black-tailed Godwits in the UK. We want to ensure that we do not lose them as breeding birds once more.

How to get involved

We have been fitting Black-tailed Godwits with unique colour ring combinations so that we can follow them in the non-breeding season. You can help us by sending in reports of sightings.

You can get the latest news, and find out about upcoming events, by following the links below.

Project timeline

Autumn 2020

5km of anti-predator fencing installed at RSPB Nene Washes, to protect nesting godwits during the breeding season from ground predators like foxes and badgers.

Winter 2020/21

Sightings received from Project Godwit birds on the wintering grounds in west Africa and on migration at stop-over sites in Portugal and Spain.

Spring/Summer 2021

The rear and release of godwit chicks via head-starting continues, plus nest and chick monitoring of both head-started and wild-reared birds at RSPB Nene Washes.

Autumn 2021

Analyse data from godwit tracking devices.

Winter 2021

Produce a UK recovery plan for black-tailed godwits, to secure the future of the species breeding in the UK.

Project contact

Rebecca Pitman

Senior Project Manager

Latest news

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Bringing them Back From The Brink

We are working with some of the most endangered species in England. With your help we can do even more to save them.

Project lead

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