Normally this type of aviculture is always carried out in biosecure environments, where disease risk can be prevented through the use of artificial substrates [the surfaces that the birds live and walk on] that can be easily clean and disinfected on a regular basis. Initially we had planned the same for these birds although it could be seen from these birds’ feet that these were not a viable option. We had to make an on the spot decision, that if we were going to be able to successfully rear and bring these highly valuable birds back to Slimbridge, then we were going to have to do things a bit differently!
In the UK people keep these type of small sandpipers on cleaned and sterile river sand, not much chance of that round here. However, we were able to get some sand from the nearest beach and this was supplemented with turfs of tundra, dug by Nigel and myself (Roland).
It is worth noting that over the last few weeks I have become quite proficient at cutting turf, almost to the point that I become quite annoyed at myself if I don’t cut one perfectly square (perhaps I need to get out more often).
Suffice to say that the new found mix of substrates has seemed to work well and the birds feet have improved a lot since being taken off the artificial ones.
All chicks barring the single youngest were moved outside today, things are now very quiet inside!