CR Godwits again

Another Technopole visit, another colour-ringed (=CR) Black-tailed Godwit… last week Thursday, Wim Mullié and I found three ringed birds (out of only about 30 birds in total!), one of which was new. Now that I have received life histories of all six birds that were found these past few weeks it’s time to provide a bit of an overview. Out of these, four are of Dutch origin, one English (see previous post), and one was ringed under a French research project.

The birds listed below are named after their CR combination, which is explained in detail here; a full list of Black-tailed Godwit CR schemes is available here (PDF document, updated April 2015).

Dutch birds

  • R6LRBB: ringed as adult on 9 May 2007 in Blessum (Friesland province, near Leeuwarden). It’s been seen every year since during the breeding season in various places in Friesland. In 2009, 2013 and 2014 it was spotted in Spain (Guadalquivir delta in Donana NP, and near Merida), usually in February but once in October, while in February 2015 it was reported from the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Tejo (near Lisbon) in Portugal… and so now for the first time also in West Africa. So far it was seen on January 4, 15 (M. Whiffin), 17, and 21. It likely won’t hang around for much longer as it is typically seen from around 10 February onward during its stop-over on the Iberian Peninsula. Now at least in its 12th year, R6LRBB has been reported no less than 83 times, out of which only 15 times outside the Netherlands.

“R6LRBB” Black-tailed Godwit – Barge à queue noire

  • R6RBLY: caught as a juvenile in June 2013 on the Wadden island of Ameland. It returned to the Netherlands (near Dokkum, on the mainland) in spring 2015, after likely spending all of 2014 in West Africa while in its second calendar year. So far I’ve only seen it once at Technopole, on 3 January: it probably continued its route northward since, along with many other godwits which have already left their wintering grounds (see the “King of the Meadows” page for live tracking of satellite-tagged BTG’s). 
  • Y6BBRR: caught as adult on May 1st 2012, near Oudega, and so far has returned every year to the Netherlands. On 14.02.14 it was spotted in the Donana national park, and a month later it was back in Friesland. In Oct. 2014, K. Gueye observed it for the first time in Senegal, at Palmarin in the northern Saloum delta, likely on its way to wintering grounds further south (Guinea-Bissau?), followed by two sightings at Dianki in the Casamance delta (north of Ziguinchor) in August last year, and finally on 17 and 21.01 at Technopole.
  • 1LMELB: ringed as a chick on May 12 2014 at Workum, Friesland, after which it was seen just once, on 13 July at the Parc ornithologique de Marquenterre (Baie de Somme, France). It logically continued on to West Africa to remain there throughout 2015, before returning to its Dutch breeding grounds this coming spring. At Technopole we’ve seen it three times so far, on 21, 24 and 30.01, likely during a refueling stop-over while on its northbound migration.

All information on Dutch birds was provided by Jos Hooijmeijer from Groningen University. Read more about the Dutch research project here, which mainly focuses on the species’ ecology and population structure but which also studies migration and wintering strategies. Black-tailed Godwits’ wintering grounds and key sites for the species during stop-over are well known, but “we still know very little about how the migration and wintering strategy affects survival and reproduction”.

Below is a sample map showing satellite-tracked godwit positions for the past week (King of the Meadows data).



  • EZ14851“: This bird was ringed on 13 May 2015 as a breeding female (caught on her nest) at the Nene Washes in Eastern England and is the main breeding location for the species in the UK. In 2015, the RSPB have begun a new research programme and over the next few years will be marking many more godwits (per Dr. Jen Smart, RSPB).



  • OfN/BO: caught as an adult on 24.02.09 at Moëze (Charente Maritime), and seen at Technopole on 4, 17, 24 and 30.01 (and as such is the longest staying bird so far here), this bird was seen in the Donana NP in 2011, three times during the 2012 breeding season in the Netherlands, back in Moëze in August 2012, again in the Netherlands in June 2013, but then it went AWOL until the Dakar sightings these past few weeks. Will it be seen again in Europe this spring?



Habitat of Black-tailed Godwits at Technopole. At the moment, the birds tend to feed in or on the shores of this shallow lakes



R6LRBB again, here seen with a Spur-winged Lapwing and a Great Egret

In addition to the godwits, there often are other colour-ringed birds present at Technopole and more generally throughout wetlands in Senegal. The main species involved are Spoonbills (Dutch, French, Spanish), Osprey (Germany, UK, Sweden, etc.), Lesser Black-backed Gull (from all over Western Europe), Audouin’s Gull from Spain, Slender-billed Gull (from the Saloum and from Spain), and Caspian and Royal Terns from the Saloum Delta, but it’s also worthwhile keeping an eye open for Greater Flamingo (one Spanish bird last year), Sandwich Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, and several wader species such as Sanderling, Ruff, Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. Last Sunday, Wim and Theo reported no less than 7 CR birds from Technopole (a Spanish Spoonbill, two Slender-billed Gulls, an Audouin’s Gull, a Senegalese Caspian Tern, and two of the godwits included in the above overview).

A great resource for finding the origin of a CR bird is the site, a real one-stop shop providing an overview of all known European projects involving colour-ringing schemes.

To finish, below are a couple more recent Technopole pictures of species to be checked for colour-rings: the first Mediterranean Gull seen this winter (an adult was also present), and an unusually pale Osprey which has been seen on at least three occasions between Christmas and Jan. 17th. It’s so distinctive that it doesn’t actually need colour-rings – I’ve never seen an Osprey quite like this one!



1st winter Mediterranean Gull / Mouette mélanocéphale 1er hiver



Unusually pale Osprey / Balbuzard pêcheur inhabituellement pâle


(article updated on 30.01.16)


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