Black-tailed Godwits breed in Iceland and eastward from Britain across the middle latitudes of Europe and western Asia and in isolated areas of eastern Asia. They winter in western Europe, the Mediterranean area, Africa between the Sahara and the equator and discontinuously across southern Asia to Australia.
    In Britain drainage of wetland areas led to the virtual extinction of Black-tailed Godwits as a breeding species in the mid-19th century. Re-colonisation began in East Anglia in the 1930s, where it has been regular since 1952, extending also to northern England and the Scottish Northern Isles. In recent years however the breeding population has been declining again: Bird Atlas 2007-11 recorded a 32% reduction in the British breeding population since the 1988-91 Breeding Atlas. On the other hand the British winter population, as recorded in Bird Atlas 2007-11, has shown a 177% increase since the 1981-84 Winter Atlas – virtually all of them migrants from Iceland.
    In Wiltshire the first modern record was of a singleton at Coate Water in August 1944. There were eight more records between then and 1975, mostly singletons or groups of up to seven with the remarkable exception of a flock of about 250 at Durrington in early December 1965. Since 1975 they have been recorded in every year except 1980. Most of the records have occurred during the autumn passage, between June and September, and in smaller numbers during the spring passage in February to April. Numbers have varied quite markedly from year to year and no clear trend has emerged. In winter, notwithstanding the increase in the national population as recorded above, numbers in Wiltshire have remained generally very low, with only three records altogether in December-January during the decade from 2000 to 2010.
    Although they have been recorded in every month of the year, there have been no reports of breeding attempts.

The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.