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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.

Birding with Spectacles

Waking to freezing fog, nobody wanted to go out. By noon I needed fresh air so I worked my way along the hills overlooking the lake. By 16.30, I had walked 9km and seen nothing. A calling Spoon-billed Sandpiper broke my duck but the walk home seemed destined to be long and cold.

After 3km more I saw a flash of white, and knew–something different. In a dense willow, the bits of an obscured birdy jigsaw came together to produce a Bullfinch! Now this may not sound exciting but a Bullfinch in Chukotka is something special—this was a first for Meinypyl’gyino, and possibly only the 2nd or 3rd for Chukotka. I noted its strange frosty hue and decided it was the massive Siberian race, so rattled off a few photos.

Soon I saw a small group of Eider coming across the frozen lake.  One was different so I put my camera up in the hope of it being a King Eider. But NO! – as I started clicking the shutter, a fine drake Spectacled Eider filled my viewfinder. Flying next to it was a female. Finally I heard a Spoon-billed Sandpiper call, and there on the beach were three birds: what an intense 30 minutes.

Phil Palmer (Bird Holidays)

Eurasian Bullfinch eastern form (c) Phil Palmer

Eurasian Bullfinch eastern form (c) Phil Palmer

Spectacled Eider (c) Phil Palmer

Spectacled Eider (c) Phil Palmer

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