We’re very sorry to say that, having expected the birds back in the UK on 13 October, they have been delayed in Moscow. Our apologies to anyone reading The Guardian yesterday, who will have read that they did arrive. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get the message to the editorial team in time.
The reasons for the delay are nothing to do with the spoon-billed sandpipers thankfully. Temporary restrictions have been imposed on moving all birds from Moscow and we are now looking at bringing them to the UK in early November. Nigel Jarrett, who had flown out to accompany the birds over here, has had to return to the UK. Roland Digby has travelled back out to Moscow to resume care of the birds.
Despite the implications for us and the extra time before they reach the expert team at the Conservation Breeding Unit at Slimbridge, there is good reason for strict quarantine – animals are isolated so that they are not exposed to any new disease and, if they were carrying any controlled diseases, they would develop symptoms and become obvious within this period. With many naturally occurring diseases and conditions, losses are expected at this stage, but the good news is that the purpose-built facilities that will be the birds’ home at Slimbridge are now completed and will enable our expert aviculture team to give the birds the best care possible when they do, eventually, arrive.