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.

Back to Moscow this weekend

Nigel writes:

It’s been a tense and stressful couple of weeks, preparing for the arrival of the birds to the UK – so, apologies that we’ve been a bit quieter than usual on the blog with the latest developments.

The young spoon-billed sandpiper chicks are now half way through their quarantine period in Moscow and we’re feeling anxious about the days ahead. To minimise the risk of infection, the birds are being given pro-biotics in their water to help boost their immune system and continue to be cared for under the watchful eyes of Roland. So far, the little birds have done surprisingly well!

Quarantine is always a stressful period for any animal, let alone small, young birds. Having not been quarantined for such a lengthy time-period before, it’s hard to predict how they’re going to react. The same goes for the journey. Last time the spoon-billed sandpipers were able to fly in the main passenger hold of the plane, but for the next leg (Moscow-London) they will journey in the cargo hold. From experience we know that every species has its own needs and can react differently, and every day we are learning more.

These incredible birds, that usually migrate 5,000 miles – more than the distance from Moscow to London, will be flown back to Blighty in mid-October when they will enter their second period of quarantine. Having been back in the UK now for several weeks, I haven’t seen the birds for some time. So I’m  heading out to Moscow to spend their last two weeks of being in their native land with them. It’s exciting to think that if all goes well, I’ll be reunited with the little birds that I saw go from eggs, to fluffy chicks and now to feathered fledglings. Here’s hoping for a safe journey!

  1. Ken Turnip Reply

    Thank you for the update, Nigel. I know you must have better things to do, but it’s good to know what’s going on. I agree – birds in the hold is scary. Hope that goes OK. Good luck for this next step.

  2. Marie Kospartov Reply

    Good luck for the rest of the time in Moscow, andfor moving the birds to the UK, Nigel! It must be so special to be part of every step of their journey, but I can imagine the stress. I remember with such warmth when we brought the birds onboard the Professor Khromov in the middle of the night for their journey from their birthplaces in Chukotka to Anadyr. It was an honour to be involved in the project, we all admired your dedication, and we’re still thinking of you guys, and the chicks! Best wishes, Marie (Cruise Director, Professor Khromov).

  3. Linda Reply

    Great news – I was beginning to get very worried. Fingers crossed for a successful journey to Britain.

  4. Vanessa Reply

    I have been on tenterhooks, so thanks for taking the time to give an update when you must be so busy. I hope that everything goes smoothly with the birds’ journey to the UK. Best wishes to you and to the chicks.

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