Two populations of Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica occur along the East-Atlantic Flyway. The European population (L. l. lapponica) is supposed to breed in northern Scandinavia and has been suggested to only winter in Europe. The Afro—Siberian population (taymyrensis) is supposed to breed in Northern Siberia and is thought to winter exclusively in West Africa. An analysis of 946 metal ring recoveries accumulated by EURING (with data going back to 1935), in combination with an analysis of over 13,000 resightings of almost 4000 individuals marked with colour-rings in 2001–2010, enabled us to examine whether there is evidence for overlap of the populations in summer and winter. Nearly all marked individuals behaved according to the previously suggested leap-frog migration pattern. On the basis of the present sample, only 0.8% of (colour) ringed birds that were recovered and/or resighted on the wintering grounds in Europe or West-Africa made a change between the two supposed wintering areas. This is far less than was previously estimated on the basis of biometric data. The distinct migratory behaviour of the two populations makes them near-completely separated in summer and winter. The Bar-tailed Godwit along the East-Atlantic Flyway thus exhibits a clear leap-frog migration, in which the Siberian breeders winter south of the European breeders.
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