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.

Butter and calibration

The WWT group split today, as Brown fought fever to carry on with calibration while Hesky patched up incubators and rearers that had been stored through an arctic winter in sub-zero temperatures. Melted butter was the only form of lubrication in the house to get the ceased parts movin
Continue Reading →
Terek Sandpiper (c) Phil Palmer

Photographer on Ice

Phil writes: Getting out early to Third River, where yesterday’s SbS had been seen, I found only one present with a flighty flock of Dunlin and Red-necked Stint. By mid-morning they were more settled, so I slowly walked to the mid-stream ice sheet and laid down on it. Soon a Terek San
Continue Reading →
spoon-billed sandpiper (c) Richard Smith

Earliest Record Ever

The morning is bright with a strong and cold south-west migration-friendly wind. The first of the Terns have arrived, Arctic Terns flying along the coast on their elaborate wing beats. Christoph took the WWT group out on to the tundra in search of a good site to build the rearing avia
Continue Reading →
Sandhill crane eggs (c) Karin Eberhardt

Let Sleeping Bears Lie

Phil Palmer writes: It’s spring on the tundra, and as the snow melts it reveals the autumn crowberry crop, still available as food for the first migrant birds. The Moss Campion is opening in pink domes, willow catkins are furring up and the dwarf rhododendron budding. Notable sighting
Continue Reading →

Preparing the incubator room

Richard Smith writes: I slept for 7 hours …amazing, and I feel a lot better for it, but once I open my eyes that’s it, its up time. With the house clean and the way we wanted it, we started on what will be the incubator room. Using deep cleaning materials, the place started to s
Continue Reading →
Quad bike in the snow (c) Christoph Zockler

Red Knots and Computer Chips

Karin writes: Light snow in the morning turned to clear blue skies in the afternoon. Christoph, Phil and Tom took the last chance to cross the thinning river ice to the alongshore spit, to sip hot tea by a spit-top fire while watching birds migrate north along the coast and whales fee
Continue Reading →
Harlequin duck (c) Christoph Zockler

Getting ready…

Karin writes: After moving house with the aid of the ‘go anywhere’ vestikhod, the unstoppable Russian Caterpillar, and a few good card games while waiting for it to arrive, the WWT team spent the afternoon cleaning and disinfecting what is to become the Incubation Facility. Set up in
Continue Reading →

House-keeping and spring-cleaning

Richard Smith writes: First thing I headed out to the slag heap, the highest point by thirty feet for miles around. It’s a great vantage point with good views of a section of ice-free river that grows by the day. Good numbers of Harlequin and Long-tailed Ducks but the best views
Continue Reading →

Whales and cabbage

Karin Eberhardt writes: What do gray whales and fermented cabbage have in common? The same unbelievable stench! Clear blue skies and wind continued today as most of the team crossed the dubious rotting ice over the channel to explore parts of the 50 kilometers-long alongshore gravel s
Continue Reading →

First day of exploring the tundra

Richard Smith writes: I woke with the sun streaming in all the windows (there are no curtains) at 2.30am local time. It hadn’t even got dark! At 3.10 though a large flock of White-fronted Geese fly past my window and 20 minutes later a flock of Sandhill Cranes headed in the same direc
Continue Reading →