- February 21, 2018 at 2:23 pm #1668866
So Many Species Under the Threat of Extinction!!!
NZ Bar-tailed Godwits – Conservation status: Declining
Other names: kuaka, barwit, bartailed godwit, bar tailed godwit
Their brown and grey plumage echoes the intertidal mudflats where they forage, and for much of their time in New Zealand they are relatively nondescript birds. But there is nothing nondescript about the migrations of bar-tailed godwits. They perform the longest nonstop flights of any non-seabird, and, unlike a seabird, there is no chance of an inflight snack.
Godwits hold cultural significance for many New Zealanders. For Maori they were birds of mystery, (‘Kua kite te kohanga kuaka? Who has seen the nest of the kuaka?’) and were believed to accompany spirits of the departed; but they were also a source of food.
Following the breeding season, birds generally begin arriving from early September, usually after a non-stop 8-9 days flight about 11,000 km, more than a quarter of the way around the world. (Birds tracked by satellite on their 11,000-12,000 km flights to New Zealand took 8-9 days, with an average flight speed of 56 kph).
By the 1970s bird-watchers and biologists suspected the godwits in New Zealand were the same ones that nested in Alaska. But it was only in 2007 that scientists were able to determine the migration routes.
Researchers Bob Gill and Lee Tibbitts, wildlife biologists with the U.S. Geological Survey, were part of a team that captured a small number of godwits and implanted satellite transmitters inside an air sac in their abdomens, leaving the antennas sticking out. Between March and May, they tracked a group on their northern migration. The batteries of the transmitters weren’t expected to last beyond the summer, and sure enough, one by one, they stopped working………. Except one. 🙂
On August 30, 2007, a godwit known as E7 departed from Alaska, still transmitting its position.
With a rising sense of excitement, the researchers followed the bird’s progress as it flew past Hawaii, past Fiji, and then, on September 7, past the northwestern tip of New Zealand. “It was a nail-biter because the battery was failing,” recalls Tibbitts. That night E7 landed in the Firth of Thames. At eight days and eight nights, and 7,150 miles, it’s still the longest nonstop migratory flight ever recorded. “It is a head-scratching, jaw-dropping feat,” says Gill, now an emeritus scientist with USGS.
Bar-tailed godwits looking for food in the mud at the Heathcote and Avon Estuary in Christchurch, New Zealand.
They begin departing on northern migration from early March, heading for refuelling sites around the Yellow Sea. They do not breed until their third or fourth year, so each southern winter there are hundreds of non-breeding birds remaining in New Zealand.
Voice: godwits most commonly call in flight, usually a-wik,a-wik,a-wik. For most of their time in New Zealand they are usually silent on the ground, but immediately before migration departures there is a notable increase in both frequency and volume of calls from individuals that are about to leave.
The call of the Godwit
The population of subspecies baueri (eastern bar-tailed godwit ) is likely less than 150,000 birds, 75,000 of which occur in New Zealand.
Bar-tailed godwits are fully protected in New Zealand. Current count data indicates an annual population decline of nearly 2%, the primary driver of which is extensive habitat loss at staging areas in the Yellow Sea regionFebruary 21, 2018 at 7:34 pm #1668916
Do you remember back in the mid 50’s to 1960’s when there was no such thing as pantyhose? Do you remember the gap at the top of our stockings and how a breeze up the skirt in the winter was so cold?
Do you remember the solution we found? Of course you do.
We could wear our full skirts with all the starched petticoats underneath with gay abandon in Wellington winds and not worry if our skirt flicked up because we had our witches britches underneath. Lovely, lacy and very feminine and they saved our blushes.
Ah, those were the days!
Supergold-Wainuiomata (Wellington)February 21, 2018 at 7:48 pm #1668927
‘usually after a non-stop 8-9 days flight about 11,000 km, more than a quarter of the way around the world’
😮 😮 😮
Incredible distances those Godwits fly and most of it without stopping to feed!
Thanks for that Val.
Supergold-Wainuiomata (Wellington)February 21, 2018 at 8:01 pm #1668931
Gosh, I had forgotten about witches britches .. lol. I remember them and the full skirts and starched petticoats SG, thank you for the post and the old memories 🙂
Apparently the godwits never stop on their flight to NZ – they are not seabirds & as they fly over ocean there is nowhere for them to feed so they just keep flying.
An amazing feat of endurance – I wonder what would be an equivalent feat for humans and would the human body cope?February 21, 2018 at 8:59 pm #1668941
gabyoneMemberMember since: November 13, 2008
The Godwits certainly are amazing. Cannot even comprehend such a huge flight.
Never keen on witches britches but the starched petticoats & full skirt were a favourite fashion of mine.
Gabyone Auckland regionFebruary 22, 2018 at 1:32 pm #1669008
This legend about Wellington Harbour particularly interested me. I hope you enjoy it too.
Ngake and Whātaitai the taniwha of Wellington harbour
Once long ago, before the time of Kupe, when Te Ika-a-Māui was just fished from the depths of the ocean, there lived two taniwha, Ngake and Whātaitai.
In those times, Wellington Harbour, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, was a lake cut off from the sea, and abundant in fresh water fish and native bird life. Ngake and Whātaitai lived here in the lake at the head of the fish of Māui (Te Ika-a-Māui).
Ngake and Whātaitai had a great life in their special lake, with all the time in the world to do as they pleased. Ngake was a taniwha with lots of energy. He liked to race around the shores, chasing fish and eels and leaping after birds that came too close. Whātaitai was the opposite, he preferred to laze on the lake’s shores, sunbathing and dreaming taniwha dreams.
When Ngake and Whātaitai were close to the south side of the lake, where the cliffs came down to the waters edge, they could hear the crashing waves of the ocean falling on the shores nearby so when sea birds flew overhead, Ngake and Whātaitai often yelled to them, “Tell us, sea birds, what is so special about the sea?”
And the birds would always reply, “The sea is deep, it’s vast, it’s wide, it’s where many different fishes hide. The sea is the home of Tangaroa, of Hinemoana and many others.”
Whātaitai and Ngake could only imagine what secrets the sea held. Whātaitai would loll on his back in the middle of the lake dreaming, imitating the sea noises in his throat. Ngake would swish his tail furiously, making huge waves that crashed against the lake’s shore.
As the years went by the two taniwha grew bigger, and the boundaries of their lake seemed to grow smaller.
Ngake was adamant he had outgrown his home and soon convinced Whātaitai that they both needed to break free from the lake that imprisoned them.
One summer morning when Whātaitai was enjoying the morning sunshine at the north end of the lake, Ngake began circling around at high speeds yelling, “Today is the day that I will break free of this lake and swim in the endless sea!”
Whātaitai began to be excited at Ngake’s suggestion.
Ngake crossed to the north side of the lake and coiled his tail into a huge spring shape. He focused his sights on the cliffs to the south and suddenly let his tail go. With a mighty roar Ngake was thrust across the lake up over the shore and smashed into the cliff face.
Ngake hit the cliffs with such force that he shattered them into huge hunks of rock and earth, effectively creating a pathway through to Te Moana o Raukawa (Cook Strait). Ngake, cut and bruised, slipped into the sea, finally free to explore as he had dreamed.
Whātaitai was shocked at the devastation that Ngake had caused, but also glad that his brother had safely made it to the other side. Whātaitai knew he would have to follow.
Whātaitai retreated from the north side of the lake to wind his tail into a spring as he had seen his brother do. He said a prayer to the taniwha gods, then let his tail go. But Whātaitai hadn’t been very active in the past, and he wasn’t as strong or as fit as Ngake, so his take-off was much slower than his brother’s.
As Whātaitai entered the gap forged by Ngake he didn’t realise the tide was out. His stomach dragged on the ground, eventually slowing him to a stop. Whātaitai was stranded, stuck between the sea and the lake, desperately lashing his tail and trying to move, but to no avail.
Whātaitai could do nothing but lie there hoping that the incoming tide would lift him high enough to carry him across to the other side. But when the tide finally came in, it only helped to dampen his scaly skin and provide fish to sustain his hunger. Whātaitai was stuck without a hope of ever moving.
As the years passed Whātaitai became accustomed to his life stranded between the lake and the open sea. The tides would come and go providing him with food and keeping his skin healthy and moist. Whātaitai made many friends with birds and sea creatures, and these companions helped him deal with his fate.
One morning there was a dreadful shudder beneath the ocean floor. A huge earthquake erupted. Whātaitai was lifted out of the shallow water and high above sea level. Whātaitai could do nothing, he was stranded high above the water and he knew his life would end. Whātaitai bade farewell to his many bird friends and animals and soon after gasped his final breath.
As he died, Whātaitai’s spirit transformed into a bird, Te Keo, and flew to the closest mountain, Matairangi (Mount Victoria). Te Keo looked down on the huge taniwha body that stretched across the raised sea bed and cried. She cried for the great friendships Whātaitai had made, shown by the huge numbers of birds and sea life that had gathered around, and for the freedom of the sea which Whātaitai would never experience. When Te Keo had completed her lament, she bade farewell to Whātaitai, then set off to the taniwha spirit world.
Over the years Whātaitai’s body turned to stone, earth and rock and is known to this day as Haitaitai. Matairangi still looks down on the body of Whātaitai and the very top of Matairangi is still known as Tangi te Keo.
When Ngake let the spring in his tail loose he used so much force that he created a great gash in the earth and a river was formed. This river is now called Teawakairangi or the Hutt River.
The remnants of rock smashed aside when Ngake exited into the sea are visible today and Te Aroaro o Kupe (Steeple Rock) and Te Tangihanga o Kupe (Barrett’s Reef) have long been known as dangerous rock formations to mariners entering the Wellington harbour.
Although Ngake was never seen again it is still believed that he resides in the turbulent waters of the Te Moana o Raukawa (Cook Strait). When the sea is calm Ngake is off exploring Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean). When the sea is turbulent and rough, Ngake is at home chasing sea life to satisfy his taniwha appetite.
And this is the story of Ngake and Whātaitai, the taniwha of the Wellington harbour.
Supergold-Wainuiomata (Wellington)February 22, 2018 at 2:03 pm #1669011
jennifer128355MemberMember since: January 13, 2018
Enjoyed that Supergold – the power of everything from the Cook Strait and man! Your on your own! Make life as you may!February 22, 2018 at 9:44 pm #1669084
Thanks a lot, SG- enjoyed that legend. FascinatingFebruary 22, 2018 at 9:54 pm #1669086
As a carry on from SuperGold’s post about Barrett’s Reef and Steeple Rock:-
Steeple Rock is the largest rock of Barrett Reef at the west of the entrance to Wellington Harbour, rising 7m above sea level. The rock plays a role in warning ships off the dangerous reef. It is the location of a marine light and an unbeaconed trig station (‘Steeple Rock Light’, geodetic code B0XX).
The sentinel rock Te Turanga-o-Kupe stands just off Seatoun beach and recalls the visit of the Polynesian explorer Kupe to the region. Kupe, the legendary discoverer of Aotearoa, is said to have injured himself on the rock while swimming Also known as Steeple Rock, it is near where the passenger ferry Wahine* foundered in 1968.
TEV Wahine was a twin-screw, turbo-electric, roll-on/roll-off passenger and vehicle ferry of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand. She was launched at the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company in Govan, Scotland, in 1965 and worked the New Zealand inter-island route between Wellington and Lyttelton from 1966.
On 10 April 1968, near the end of a typical northbound crossing to Wellington, she was caught in a fierce storm stirred by Tropical Cyclone Giselle. She foundered after running aground on Barrett Reef and capsized and sank in the shallow waters near Steeple Rock at the mouth of Wellington Harbour.
Of the 734 people on board, 53 people died from drowning, exposure to the elements or from injuries sustained in the hurried evacuation and abandonment of the stricken vessel.
February 23, 2018 at 11:05 pm #1669192
- This reply was modified 1 month ago by vale019.
The Magic of Lake Moana
The water was so clear you can see the reflection of the boat & it almost looks like it is floating in air. The quality of the photograph is not good. I photographed it through a window but I think you will get the drift [lol a wee play on words there] of what I mean.
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