Day 10 Beach and amazing long distance birds

Half way through my 20 day challenge and all good so far! Another bright sunny morning and another visit to my beach/gym for a jog and some exercise. I think, maybe, my endorphins are starting to kick in because the thought of taking exercise is becoming more appealing as the days pass. But the weather is due to change soon, so maybe my feelings are partly due to the bright sunny weather.

I am truly staggered by the abilities of creatures resulting from years of evolution. I cannot imagine, for example, how it is possible for fledgling common swifts to navigate their way south for 7000 miles or so, and then back again north the following year. The young swifts must be programmed somehow to do this because their parents migrate before them, leaving them to find their own ways. Once out of the nest, the young swifts stay airborne for around three years before they mate – often while airborne – and have to land to lay eggs and raise their young. This is all a bit staggering but, to be fair, as far as migration is concerned a common swift looks to me to be designed for flight

Common swift (Apus apus)

(This photo comes from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apus_apus_-Barcelona,_Spain-8_(1).jpg#file)

Not apparently so well designed for flight is the bar tailed godwit; a fairly common wader with an extraordinarily large beakBar tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)

(Photo and some of the information from http://news.nationalgeographic.co.uk/news/2007/09/070913-longest-flight.html)

But do not be fooled. Using GPS tracking, a female of this species has been found to have flown non-stop for 7,140 miles from Alaska to New Zealand straight across the Pacific Ocean. The journey took nine days and the average speed was an astonishing 33 miles per hour (53 km/h). The godwits fly in flocks of between 30 and 70 birds, so this female is almost certainly not exceptional; nine days without topping up with food or water and without rest. I find that mind boggling. On the return to Alaska to breed the birds take a more leisurely route and stop to feed on the way. I don’t blame them.

 

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