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.

Community work with local children is always fun – 30 June 2011

30 June 2011

Off to the shop

Simon and I walked to the shop which was shut, we found out later it was for a stock take and resupply so there may be some goodies on offer soon. We headed for the school to meet up with some of the teachers. We had met them at our Spoon-billed Sandpiper presentation a week or so back. Simon had a number of images to pass on. He had taken them at the celebration we witnessed at the community centre last Sunday. We found out it was to celebrate young people and the holidays.

We were re-introduced and also met some new staff. An impromptu ‘come and meet the children’ occurred and we were swiftly involved in their games in the sports hall. Between races with books on our heads, basketball and blindfolded games where we had to get who was who when they made an animal noise (impossible for me as I was struggling to remember so many new names) we spoke at length to the children in English. They all gained confidence with patience and time and were easily understood, they could understand many of the questions I asked of them and put my scant Russian to shame.

Presentation to local residents, photo by Martin McGill

We also played volleyball, Simon once again on the opposite team to me. It was nice to forget about everything else for a while and play sport with the children, all happy, active and smiling. It was a real tonic for us, great fun. We retired to a classroom to share the images and we watched movies that had been filmed at the various local celebrations. A huge variety of traditional Chukchi dances and songs were displayed to us, all were filmed in the community centre or school. They were excellent, showing such pride and almost every one linked to nature. We could clearly see interpretations of whales, grasses, cranes, the sea, the rivers and more. No need for language at all. All the dances are performed with drums.

We packed up the laptops and said farewell to all of the children who wanted us to return again soon so we promised to do just that. We had ‘lost’ time and returned to Nige who was holding the fort watching over the eggs.

Nigel on egg watch

Nige and I walked over to have dinner whilst Simon walked the marshes to conduct a search. Jochen had been in the hills and seen an SBS male displaying maybe it still has no mate.

measuring spoon-billed sandpiper eggs, photo by Martin McGill

At 2100 we re-measured the eggs, weighed and candled them finishing the operation at 2200.  Nige was still feeding all the results into the laptop well into the night. This model although not 100% precise gives some indication as to how many days incubated the eggs are and will also plot various charts, giving us a visual plan of their progress. We minimise the time spent with eggs out of the incubator and ensure we operate a very smooth non-nonsense operation. Best to focus on what you are doing 100%.

weighing spoon-billed sandpiper eggs, photo by Martin McGill

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