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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.

Fresh fruit and veg at last – 20 May 2011

20 May 2011

We woke at around 0630, I got ready to go out, I needed a long walk to make up for the day spent inside hanging around for nothing yesterday, Nige was spending the morning working on his laptop. I got my outdoor gear on and headed out across the Tundra from the airport.

On the way I saw that a pair of Pacific Golden Plover had arrived, both in breeding plumage. A couple of small waders flew over and a bunting. Crossing the road and dropping down toward the river I found a party of 4 close Sandhill Crane feeding on the Tundra, one made short exaggerated flights with purposeful wing beats and jerks of the head upwards with each downbeat. Perhaps this was a display flight. A pair of Pectoral Sandpipers flew over, the male was displaying, a grunting call made from an inflated neck. Continuing down the mouth of the river where it meets the frozen sea I spent an hour counting and scanning the wildfowl.

Pacific-golden plover, photo by birdfinders.co.uk

A helicopter struggled through the snow flurry probably staying low to keep an eye on the ground. This flushed all the birds so I got a good guesstimate of what was around, only a few waders, probably Western Sandpipers flew up. The creek was full of duck, all the same species as seen before, 12 Tundra Bean and 2 White-fronted Geese went over and at least 8 Glaucous Gulls were on nests. I was drawn to the area by a flock of Brent Geese I saw from a mile or two away these turned out to be a flock of 330-350 Black Brants on one of the ice holes on the sea. Another five fed in the marsh. My first Pacific Eiders were loafing on the ice, they flew upstream. In addition the pair of Red-breasted Merganser were present. Back up on the slope a party of 6 Lapland Bunting flew over. I headed back to our room, a long walk and tired and hungry.

At the room we discovered that someone had removed the caps on the door lock, both inside and out. We asked our interpreter to speak with us along with the manager and much loud discussion ensued. It had been acknowledged and was supposed to repaired later, we were not sure where they went.

1300-1400hrs heavy snowfall.

1730hrs Got word of fresh fruit and vegetables that had appeared in the shop, raced down and scored tomatoes, carrot, cucumber, avocado, grapes, feta and tinned olives, made a salad with mayo which was heaven, the add water to powder meals can wait for another day. It has been tricky as we only have a kettle, my penknife and the bathroom sink as a kitchen and utensils. I used a cross shape of Duct tape to make a plug as there isn’t one. We can now wash the plates and socks and smalls… but not all together.

Highlight of the day was…
Pacific Eiders Someteria mollisima v-nigra
Three males and a female were in the river mouth.

Pacific eiders, photo by Islandvactiontips.com

Two of the others had been out exploring and had displaying/mating Long-billed Dowitchers and a flock of 88 of the same migrating N plus Short-eared Owl.

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