Bar-tailed Godwit (European)

Limosa lapponica lapponica


Rex Stanford
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eBird Checklist S29179302
Swantner Park
Nueces, Texas, United States
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Latitude and Longitude 27.7279, -97.3498 Map


Media notes

This photo shows the Bar-tailed Godwit's underwing very clearly. This is important because the presence of very light, largely white underwings marked sparsely with small blackish markings shows that this bird cannot be the western baueri subpecies, which has much more densely dark-marked underwing coverts, but this feature, instead, is compatible with the lapponica species from northern Europe. Looked at very closely this photo shows also the black-on-white tail of lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit and the lower end of the pure white back of lapponica, which also rules out baueri.

Observation details

This rare godwit was found by my wife and me on October 13, 2014 in Swantner Park, Corpus Christi (Nueces Co.) TX in the company dozens of Marbled Godwits. This exceedingly rare visitor was never seen outside their company. We had been alerted to the presence of this rare visitor at that park, thanks to reports on TEXBIRDS. The godwits spent most of their time foraging in tall grass in the park, the Bar-tailed accompanying the Marbled flock wherever the latter went. Despite this rare visitor's smaller stature and notably shorter legs, it walked surprisingly fast and often moved from back somewhere in the group to or near the front of it as they walked, at least when they were in a true walking mode (e.g., on a sidewalk), rather than foraging. Most of the godwits' time was spent foraging in the grass, which included frequent moves from one grassy area to another, but on one occasion the entire flock took flight, flew over the seawall, and landed on the shoreline of adjacent Corpus Christi Bay. There they mainly preened and rested. One of the photos herewith shows much of the flock (some was cut off in cropping photo length to meet eBird exigencies) together on the shoreline below the seawall, the Bar-tailed Godwit with them. Four other photos herein disclose multiple species identification-relevant characteristics. We studied and photographed these godwits at a respectable distance, using binoculars, scope, and a telephotos lenses affording up to 20X. We never flushed the flock, and neither did another individual, apparently not a birder, who once walked on a sidewalk, rapidly, right beside them. In short, the flock did not seem nervous or high-strung, and once as my wife and I stood watching and photographing the flock it moved steadily toward us--so much so that my wife exclaimed, "They look like they are going to come right up to us!" They, of course, stopped short, but still surprisingly close. We cannot complain at all about cooperative birds, especially rare ones.

Technical Information

Focal length
133.7 mm
Shutter speed
1/3200 sec
Flash did not fire, auto
Original file size
1327 x 1163

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