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.


Richard Smith writes:

At Anadyr we fly out over the Bering Sea to line up for landing. Its solid as far as the eye can see. Landed 11.30 local time. We all get through customs smoothly. Then we sit and wait in the airport for our paperwork to be checked and transport to arrive.

By 12.30 we find out that, because we have arrived in such good weather, the final leg of the journey won’t be in three days as we thought, but instead tomorrow!!! We are still sitting in the airport yet we have still got to find the mountain of rearing kit that is in storage in a different part of the town and we are running out of time.

At 6pm Nikolay confirms it is likely we’ll be on the chopper in the morning and we still haven’t been able to find our kit, let alone lug the incubation and rearing kit back to the hotel (up all the stairs to our room) and check it! Tomorrow may be our only chance for a couple of weeks.

6.40pm Nikolay finds us a taxi and four of us head into a very run down part of the town: crumbling buildings, rusting piles of vehicles, ice and rubbish scattered everywhere.

Nikolay locates the equipment and we work like Trojans, moving kit up and down stairs in and out of vehicles, back to the hotel, all by 9pm. I’m tired but wide awake. British time still in my veins means I should be just getting up, not going to bed!

Richard started his career at WWT Slimbridge before moving north to WWT Caerlaverock. Richard Smith spent two years on the avicultural staff at Slimbridge and three years as a Reserve Warden at Caerlaverock, contributing to research on whooper swans and barnacle geese. Along with other Richard and Liz Mackley, he has been on an expedition to Iceland to research whooper swans. Most recently he has been leading a team of 12 jobseekers in conservation work for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. He spends much of his time outdoors, birding, kayaking and surfing.

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