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.

In record time

Karin Eberhardt writes:

Never in the history of the spoon-billed sandpiper expeditions has the journey from Moscow to Meinypil’gyno been as swift. The town of Anadyr, Gateway to Chukotka, is notorious for weather and bureaucratic delays. But thanks to Nikolai’s quick logistical maneuvering, to fast and sweaty teamwork hauling mountains of gear in endless stages to the helicopter, and to great good weather-luck, we were through the town in under 24 hours.

The helicopter from Anadyr to Meinypil’gyno was the ride of a lifetime. Unencumbered by standard equipment such as safety belts for the team or webbing to hold fast the half-ton of pile of gear, we squeezed together around windows fully open to rushing high-altitude air, looking down on tundra speckled with frozen aquamarine ponds, followed by a spectacular range of glacier-cut mountains still in the clutches of snow.The Anadyr to Meinopilgyino helicopter

Arrival at Meinypil’gyno to more snow drifted up around the houses, and a warm welcome from Russian friends Pavel and Egor whose fieldwork has already begun, replete with heaps of boiled potato with salted salmon prepared by our wonderful hostess, Sveta, the Chair of the local Friends of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Committee. An auspicious start to the expedition!

Karin Eberhardt first saw the Spoon-billed Sandpiper on a tidal mudflat in Myanmar’s Gulf of Mottama. As a volunteer with the Bird and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA), the Myanmar BirdLife partner, she advises on approaches to alternative livelihoods for bird hunters, raising public awareness, and cooperative management of the Gulf of Mottama as it is designated a RAMSAR site. Based in Myanmar for over 12 years, she is a consultant to conservation and/or development projects. She brings to Meinypil’gyno’s students a response, from schoolchildren of Myanmar, to their conservation message of last year.

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