on 27th April 2013

“In January 2013, I was captivated by the feeding activity of Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica, Maori name: Kuaka) as they foraged along the shallow waters and exposed substrate of the Estuary of Avon/Heathcote in South Island, New Zealand, tramping around with muddy bills and muddy feet (above).

“Very often, the entire length of their pinkish bills would be fully inserted into the soft sediment as they repeatedly probed for their food (above).

“A major constituent of their diet are polychaete worms (Welch, 2009), and this was consistently verified as the godwits demonstrated their expertise at extracting them one after another (above and below).

“A brief video clip of its feeding activity may be previewed above.

“Close by, some cunning Red-billed Gulls (Larus novaehollandiae) had clear intentions to steal a juicy worm or two from the Godwits (above).

“A brief video clip of this attempt to steal worms may be previewed above.

“After all the feasting on those muddy worms, washing up and preening was absolutely essential. They often begin by splashing their long bills on the water surface to wash off all traces of mud (above).

“Next, they tap their feet on the water before scratching their chin or wiping the base of their bill (above).

“Content with their cleaned bills and washed feet, they then proceed to groom themselves methodically (above). At frequent intervals, they habitually dip the tip of their bill on the water surface before bringing the bill back to their feathers.

“A brief video clip of its preening activity may be previewed above.”

Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
17th February 2013

Welch, D. 2009. Return of the Godwit. New Zealand Geographic, Number 95: 70–81.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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