Headstarting is a collaborative effort between WWT, BirdsRussia and the RSPB, and occurs as part of the International Arctic Expedition mounted each year by BirdsRussia under the leadership of Dr. Evgeny Syroechkovskiy.

Bad weather means more birdwatching – 25 May 2011

25 May 2011
Hanging about until 0900, no helicopter flight, review later……..1100, still no flight…..1200 flight cancelled. I took a walk out through the airport marsh…2 displaying Long-billed Dowitcher and 2 more in the river marsh. 7 Pacific Eiders, 80 Black Brant, 5 singing and displaying male Lapland Bunting perhaps after the single female, they fly high and float back down with wings held down, 5 singing and displaying male Red-throated Pipits, just like Meadow Pipit display but different song, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, Long-tailed Skuas have arrived, 5 pairs are on the airport tundra heath with more parties over the river, also 4 pairs of Wood Sandpiper and a couple of males of the local Yellow Wagtails.

Later Simon and I caught the bus to a nearby town where we are setting up brooders for the chicks in July. We had some strange glances as we stood with our boxes and heat lamps on a packed, steamed up bus. We got to the flats which are set in what is derelict barracks. We picked our way through the black puddles and past storage containers and huge dogs and reached the flats. We are renting a room on the top floor and we got to work constructing the brooders ready for July where, we hope, we will bring chicks to.

Once the job was done we just missed the bus back and walked back into the small town. I looked at the Mig Fighter jet that I saw days ago up close and was told by Igor that it is a monument to the ‘defenders of the Chukotkan skies’ I had to have a close look, it was set on a giant plinth, I climbed up for a close look inside the cockpit when Simon saw two waders nearby. We investigated and found two squabbling pairs of Temminck’s Stints, a Red-necked Phalarope and lots of displaying Wood Sandpipers amongst the rubble and pools. A few male Snow Buntings sang and a couple of the eastern race House Martins, these show a larger amount of white on the back and as at home were around the buildings.

We headed to a shop while waiting for the bus, it was a converted ship container, hard to work out what is a shop and what is a container. Simply wait and see if people go in and out to find out. Inside lots of pointing, waving and head wagging ensued to get what we wanted and soon after we have created a large queue. We did not quite get what we wanted and re-queued to finish shopping. We got the bus back and were now getting high fives and handshakes from the driver, he has got to know us this last week, he is very smiley and beeps when he spots us on the marsh or tundra. Back at the room I prepared a meal for Nige and myself, he misses out on the local fun as he is tied to the laptop/notebook making plans for aviaries back home, trying to get a session on the hotel internet or just being our spokesperson. I will have to make him get out for a long walk.

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