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.

First Clutch

The day’s plan of beginning to construct the release aviary were disrupted mid-morning when Nikolay found us to say he had a complete clutch of four eggs and their incubation had begun.

Richard H., Liz B. and I piled in the buggy with Nikolay driving and the portable incubator plugged in. Upon arrival, as Nikolay neared the nest, the male Spoon-billed Sandpiper jumped off, flew twenty metres away and stayed there as Liz replaced the paper-thin waxy eggs with dummy eggs and put the real McCoy in the incubator.

The nest was a neat affair, although the eggs are small the Spoon billed Sandpiper is a very little wader and the eggs look large in proportion to the bird.

Once back, Liz B weighed, measured and candled the eggs before marking each with an individual code and setting it in the large incubator set up in the house. Liz took first watch and the rest of us changed over every two hours through the ‘night’!

Incubation has begun!


Transporting the first clutch

Transporting the first clutch

  1. Ken Tucker (AKA Turnip) Reply

    Hard work begins. Well done guys. Just one question – why the dummy eggs? Do you not want the birds to relay? I know there will be a good reason – this whole expedition is so well thought out. Just wondering.

    Such responsibility. Good luck.

  2. Rebecca Lee Reply

    Hi Ken

    We think this nest was ‘dummied’ to encourage the breeding pair to keep incubating so that they could be photographed to potentially identify the birds by plumage characteristics to track relaying. The dummies were removed a few days later.

    We also use dummy eggs when nests are found with incomplete clutches (less than 4 eggs) so that the eggs can be collected without discouraging the parents from completing the clutch. The field team then returns a day or two later to collect any new eggs and remove dummies as required.

    Best wishes, R

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.