Special celebrity shorebird spotted

Some of the birds around our coastline undertake long migrations every year.

Collectively known as shorebirds or waders, this group includes curlews, sandpipers, knots and godwits.

Many breed in Siberia in the northern summer (our winter), and migrate to our shores from October through to March.

A few of these remarkable migrants have been banded, with identifying flags.

One in particular has gained some notoriety in SA, a male Bar-tailed Godwit with the flag AKK. He was banded at Thompsons Beach in 2012.

Over the next three years, it was seen again there, and three times in China while on route.

He disappeared for three years causing some concern, then reappeared at Thompsons Beach again last year.

The only sightings this year have been at Bald Hill Beach, where I spotted him in February starting to acquire its rufous breeding plumage.

And last week I found him again there, just recently returned from Siberia.

Bar-tailed Godwits have the record for the longest non-stop flight, across the Pacific from Alaska to New Zealand, more than 11,000 kilometres in nine days.

However, AKK probably nests in Siberia, so he is able to have a couple of rest stops on his way from Asia to Australia, although in my photo he’s yawning, a little tired after the long flight!