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.

One day of spring for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Karin writes:

After several straight days of fog, frost, flurries and snow, which dusted the hills yesterday morning, today was like the first day of spring. The skies turned blue, clear, sunny, and warm – that is, until the sea fog rolled in an hour ago. In the moraine hills, the junipery fragrance of crowberry rises from the tundra, rivulets run down from thawing snowfields, and ice on the ponds is beginning to tinkle and shrink.

The team has been surveying for SbS every day for the last week, noting especially birds that are displaying and seem to be pairing up.

From what the team has observed so far, we anticipate two pairs on the western spit and 4 to 5 presumed pairs in the moraine hills. However, these are the proverbial early birds, and more are likely to arrive, while some presumed pairs may separate. It has now been a week since the earliest birds began to display, and some are likely now mating and searching for nest sites. But the cold weather of the last few days has slowed the mating process, as the birds fed to stay warm and had little surplus energy.

Tundra ponds open for ducks (c) Karin Eberhardt

Tundra ponds open for ducks (c) Karin Eberhardt

  1. Mark Reply

    Hi all – thank you for your posts and keeping us all informed back here in the UK. I can feel the anticipation building as the birds are pairing up. Great news that several potential pairs have been spotted already. best of luck for the next few weeks.

  2. Graham Chisholm Reply

    Just catching up on your posts, thanks for keeping us informed here in the U.S., I’ll spread the word so more follow your progress this summer season in Chukotka. I hope you find the banded bird we saw in the Gulf of Martaban! Be safe.

  3. Ken Tucker (AKA Turnip) Reply

    Hi Guys

    I feel guilty that I haven’t posted until now. Like Nigel H, it has taken me a while to get on top of all your posts – there seem to be so many of you out there doing this important work. Wish I could join you.
    Last year I kept a careful eye on the inspiring exploits of Nigel, Martin, Roland and Liz through the WWT blog. It’s great to hear that birds are arriving and you are all ready and waiting. Thanks for your hard work and your blog posts. I’m sure it will be edge of the seat stuff at times, but I shall be following you and supporting you all the way. Good luck and stay warm/cool depending on circumstances!

  4. Karin Eberhardt Reply

    Dear Mark, Graham and Ken,
    Thanks for your support, and special thanks too to Mark for pulling the website together and organizing all the blogs of this somewhat unruly, and yes, large team! That means we get to cover a lot of ground. We have had fairly good luck so far and hope it holds–two more potential pairs yesterday, and good searching weather this morning,
    Spread the news!

  5. Karin Eberhardt Reply

    Dear Graham,
    Thanks for your support and for spreading the word. The team will soon go to check the site where the bird, which you saw in 2010 in Martaban, was banded in 2003. We will let you know what we find!

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