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.

Red Knot Update

Pavel writes:

The Red Knot breeding population in Meinypil’gyno, only 10-12 pairs, is unique in that the birds breed on the coastal plain rather in the mountains and higher ground, as does the rest of the known population. It is likely the southernmost breeding site for this species in the world. This population thus deserves special study, and since the Red Knot breeds earlier than the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, is complementary in the season to study of the latter. The two species are similar in many respects: they have high nest site fidelity, are monogamous, and male and female share brooding responsibility.

Through our study we have confirmed that the Chukotkan Red Knot population migrates to Australia and New Zealand, unlike the larger-bodied Wrangel Island population that migrates to America. The question now is to determine which route the Red Knots take along the flyway. While many colour-marked Red Knots have been seen in concentrations in Bohai Bay on the way north, we are not sure how they head south.

To find out, in 2011 we placed geo-locators (data-loggers) on five males, all of which have returned this year. Now we hope to catch these birds to retrieve their data. However, only four of them have paired and are nesting now, so we will likely only be able to retrieve those four, as birds not brooding are very difficult to catch.

We are also learning about longevity of the birds. On June 1 this year, we captured a paired colour-marked female, which our Australian colleagues confirmed via email was ringed as a first-year in February 2007 near Melbourne. That means the bird is now six years old. In the last two seasons we also recorded a male ringed in New Zealand, that Christoph first encountered breeding in Meinypil’gyno in 2005, and is at least nine years old.


Red Knot incubating (c) Baz Scampion

Red Knot incubating (c) Baz Scampion


  1. Ken Tucker (AKA Turnip) Reply

    Hi Pavel

    I hope you catch those red knot with the geo-locators. The journey that Alaskan bar-tailed godwits make ( http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070913-longest-flight.html ) certainly astounded the scientific community. These sorts of remote tracking experiments are revealing amazing information all the time and have produced some real surprises. Good luck catching the birds and I hope the geo-locators all worked well… oh and please let us know what you find out.

    All the best

  2. Adrian Boyle Reply

    Hi Pavel.

    Hoping to hear good news of capturing the 4 Red Knots. Then fingers crossed that the Geo’s worked.

    I hope 3 of the 4 are the ones I saw In Bohai this year.
    Will be great if they tell us where the southward feeding location is along with do they stop on the way to Bohai.
    Good Luck.

    Adrian Boyle
    Global Flyway Network

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