I must admit that I’d never heard of a Godwit before, so when I received an email from Willie McSweeney from Scoil Iosaef Naofa, an all boys’ school in Cobh, Co. Cork, my first reaction was that this was yet another spam email amongst the hundreds of other that I get through the website. And when he provided a link to a YouTube video, I was even more suspicious. Yet, at the same time I was intrigued, as he explained that the video was about a project they were doing in school about the black-tailed Godwit. I Googled “Godwit” to discover that it was a bird and when I visited the school website all seemed legitimate so I viewed the YouTube video, and I was glad that I did.

Willie explained that they have been involved in a project called Operation Godwit for a few years now. Operation Godwit is an international association of people studying the Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit. The aim of the project is to unravel the mysteries of the life cycle of this elegant wading bird. This is done by carrying out fieldwork in different countries and by following movements of individually colour-ringed birds. The project relies on bird watchers and interested people reporting sightings of the colour ringed godwits.

Because of their project on the Black-tailed Godwit the school has linked up with a school in Siglufjörður, a town in northern Iceland! This is fascinating for them, as the Black-tailed Godwits that they see wintering in Cork Harbour return to Iceland each spring. In fact, from their colour ringed observations some of the birds seen in Cork have also been sighted close to Siglufjörður!

Classes from both schools have been in contact through email and also by post. They have learned about each other’s areas and interests. Scoil Iosaef also have an ongoing weather project so they have also compared weather data. They have also learned some Icelandic words and have taught their Icelandic friends some Irish! CD’s of traditional music of both countries have also been exchanged! They have been skyping Iceland this year. This has all happened because of their mutual interest in the Black-tailed Godwit!

This video is of a fieldtrip Willie took with his 5th class boys from school in Cobh, to Glounthaune where they did their birdwatching. They were also very lucky to have well known wildlife expert, Jim Wilson, with them and he has been a guiding light to them in many projects that they have undertaken over the years.

You can learn more about the project from their school website www.scoiliosaefnaofa.com Go to Nature Projects and follow the link to the Blacktailed Godwit Project.