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.

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 Sandpiper approached. Quite a nasty guy, he chased the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and stints, and was so preoccupied feeding that he ignored me from just 3m away. As this made photography exciting, I stayed there, laying on the ice all day. When the cold and damp finally reached my inner core, I left, shivering, to find that the camera had reset itself. This meant that all those amazing close-ups, made belly on ice, were saved on only poor quality JPGs…Grrrrrr.

The nice thing was that I learned that waders are bad birders. A shrill call from a Dunlin meant everyone took cover. I watched the birds staring skyward to see that they had been afraid of a House Martin!!!!….same shape as a Peregrine I suppose?

Terek Sandpiper (c) Phil Palmer

Phil first visited Chukotka with Dr Evgeny Syroechovskiy as it became obvious that the spoon-billed sandpiper was heading towards extinction. Since then he has helped Evgeny and Christoph survey other parts of Eastern Russia as well as studying spoon-billed sandpipers in China. Phil works full-time as bird tour leader for Bird Holidays in Leeds and undertakes these expeditions as part of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force. He funds himself and says it has been difficult to visit as often as he would like. He has made various discoveries along the way, including many vagrant birds in Siberia. If asked, he would guess that his best find was a western meadowlark near Provedenya in 2004.

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