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.

The sandpipers move to their new enclosure

Nicky writes:

It has been a particularly exciting week at spoon-billed sandpiper HQ. After a couple of weeks’ preparation work, the 2nd wintering room was ready for the birds to move into. The heaters were cranked up to optimum temperature, the heat lamps hung, the pool filled with circulating, filtered water and the river sand laid. Minutes before the move, Nigel and I went in to scatter some live treats, including brine shrimp and bloodworms, in the pool and in the birds’ food bowls to make it as welcoming as possible.

It was time to lift the hatch. We both eagerly watched as I pulled on the cable to open up the hole leading in to the adjacent room. The inquisitive flock peered through the gap. You could tell they were a little unsure at first but keen to go and investigate. After a few minutes one bird crossed the border in to the new room and this was enough to persuade the others to quickly join it.

The spoon-billed sandpipers in the new room

The birds immediately started racing around feeding whilst giving lots of high-pitched excited calls. And it didn’t take long for them to investigate the pond and start feeding on the live food swimming around in there. This was the smoothest transition we could have hoped for and we are really pleased with how quickly the birds became settled in their new home.

A few days on and the novelty of the new room has still not worn off. The birds continue to be very active and are feeding well. One thing I have certainly noticed is that the happier and more excited the birds are, the tamer they become. I was delighted to have one bird feeding less than a foot away from me, as I knelt on the sand completing my daily inspection of the flock. It was a real treat to be so close to such a special little bird going about its business!

The spoon-billed sandpipers in the new room

  1. NigelH Reply

    Excellent, all good news! I’ve also stepped into new territory as my marathon training has taken me beyond half marathon distance, so I’m now running farther than I’ve run before – and all without brine shrimp or bloodworm! If you would like to support my London Marathon for this amazing bird and great project go to http://www.justgiving.com/sandpiper, or text NIGE57£10 to 70070.

  2. ruralsongbird Reply

    Wow Nicky
    Thanks for another wonderful write-up. You LUCKY thing having a bird THAT close to you and comfortable enough to be feeding as well. I wish I had heard their excited squeaks. Do you have any sound recordings of this? WHAT a treat. Well done you guys. I really hope their feet will benefit from the river sand.

  3. Ken Turnip Reply

    They look so fit and well! Fantastic. Are they going to be kept in two groups now?

    Thanks, as ever, for the update.

    All the best

    (NigelH – perhaps bloodworms would make you go faster!)

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