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.

Longest Birthday Ever (and a hat trick of Eider)

Richard Smith writes:

After the fog of the day before, on 6 June the sun quickly burned through the clouds and turned the day into a real scorcher. Most people headed into the hills in small groups to try a pin down some more SbS territories. But it was so warm most creatures were in sleep mode while we sweated our way through the moraines. As our group left the hills, one obliging male took to the sky to entertain us with his territorial display, his song cutting through the still warm air for miles around.

A quick trip to the river mouth was in order before tea after a hat trick of Eider species had been spotted. A large group of Steller’s Eiders had rafted upon the water, complementing the Common Eiders. Being similar in size to Harlequin Ducks, they stood out well. In the rushing, churning waters of the river mouth five Sabine’s gulls busied themselves feeding in amongst the Black-legged Kittiwakes. As I turned for tea a flock of eleven King Eiders gracefully cruised past heading up river with the males sporting their distinctive pale blue neck and head, and orange shield above the bill.

On arrival to Sveta’s house I find it empty! I found everyone in a tent, still surrounded by snowdrifts, awaiting my arrival. I celebrated my birthday with the expedition team on the Russian tundra. After a few toasts, we feasted. I felt honoured and privileged. Not many visitors to the tundra can claim to have had this experience. Thank you, Sveta.

Being eleven hours ahead of the UK, my birthday nearly lasted 36 hours. The Longest Birthday ever!

  1. Ken Tucker (AKA Turnip) Reply

    Happy (belated) Birthday, Richard. What a way to celebrate. Glad the spooners are making their way back and getting down to business. Everything crossed for a successful season.


  2. Keeley Spate Reply

    Yay, thats a birthday you will always remember. Wish I had been there too 🙂

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