I was sitting on a boat under the full moon in the mudflats of Myanmar when Christoph invited me to join the 2012 Spoon-billed Sandpiper expedition to Chukotka. Saying ‘yes’ immediately was the easy part, as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper has a precious place in my heart. The last several years of surveying enormous mudflats to identify SbS hotspots, and conserving them by hunting mitigation, have felt like a great journey from youth to adulthood. Now finally in Russia, I am connecting the two dots from winter grounds to summer, and feeling like I have come life’s full circle.
As a Bangladeshi citizen, getting to Russia was not simple. The month-long visa ordeal included almost daily visits to the embassy for two weeks straight. Liza and Evgeny from Birds Russia were a huge help.
But still, I was not in time. I reached Anadyr 28 May, four days after the team had left for Meino, so I could only trust fate, go birding and wait for the helicopter and clear weather.
Today I finally joined my team. This was the moment I have been waiting for all year, and in fact, for years! Last year, I checked the blog for the SbS 2011 Expedition every day. This year I am here, as one of the team working to save the SBS, and I am honored to be a part of it—-as well as happy to learn, in this evening’s meeting, of two new possible pairs of SbS.