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)