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.

Text messages from Nige – it’s all systems go!

17:52 (BST), Saturday 23 June @ Moscow Zoo

Text message: I’m at zoo. Got through customs without a hitch. They x-rayed my bags but let me through. Please let all of our support team at Slimbridge know.


14:56 (BST), Sunday 24 June @ Departures lounge, Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow

Text message: I’m in departures for Anadyr! Yesterday Roland said that Nikolai found 4 new pairs inc one nest to the west … it’s looking good for 20 eggs for headstarting!

[Baz reply: Well blow me down with a feather! It’s all coming together big style. It’s your midas touch mate.]


16:07 (BST), Sunday 24 June @ On the plane, Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow

Text message: Taking off soon … Got an aisle seat by wing emergency exit. The bloke next to me has blocked the exit with 2 large buckets of what looks like live fishin bait!


04:45 (BST), Monday 25 June @ Anadyr Airport

Text message: Arrived Anadyr. Got my bags. Met Liza and now getting visa checked by border control officers.

[Baz reply: Glad you’re there safely. England got beat on pens. Again!]


16:52 (BST), Monday 25 June @ Anadyr Airport hotel

Text message: It’s nearly 4am here and I cannot get to sleep!! There’s bright sunshine with no clouds. I reckon we could fly for the eggs and team today. Incubator is running and we gonna move some of the rearing coops to the helipad at 6. I’m getting into the zone..!

[Baz reply: Wow! Will let people know. Keep in the zone mate.]


17:05 (BST), Monday 25 June @ Anadyr Airport hotel

Text message: Will do! FYI I’m staying in airport hotel (no internet). Liza is in town where it’s easier to sort stuff.


20:07 (BST), Monday 25 June @ Anadyr Airport

Text message: Micha (guy who stored stuff from last year) and I just dropped coop and other stuff outside helipad as it’s locked up. Now waiting for people to start work and really getting properly eaten alive by mozzies as I’ve no repellent! It’s very sunny and sky is clear… Looking good for a take off to Meina!


22:35, Monday 25 June @ Anadyr helipad

Text message:Got stuff on helicopter and now waiting to board… Only I’ve lost Liza!


22:55, Monday 25 June @ Anadyr helipad

Text message: Found Liza… She was getting the tickets. I’m in departures but she’s still on other side!


23:18, Monday 25 June @ Anadyr helipad

Text message: We are on the helicopter… but departure is delayed for an hour… hope it’s not the weather!


23:53, Monday 25 June @ Anadyr helipad

Text message: We are taking off as I type this to you now! Keep your fingers crossed for us and those precious eggs!


  1. NigelH Reply

    Go Nige! I think the headstarting is a brilliant idea. I suppose we don’t really find out how brilliant for two years, but I know you, Roland & team will make the first stage work. Did you leave the repellent behind because you wanted to be the mozzie magnet when the chicks hatch this year?

    • Baz Reply

      Nah – he left it cos he’s a numpty. And had 3 suitcases of kit so decided not to take any change of clothes cos he didn’t have room for them. That’s dedication for you!

  2. Baz Reply

    Nige and the team are now back in Anadyr having helicoptered 20 eggs out from Meina. So far so good!

  3. Martin McGill Reply

    Fingers crossed for you and the team Nige, wish I was with you for this bit. I hope all runs smoothly and we continue to get more positive news soon. Pass on my regards and best wishes to everyone I know in Meini and a big pat on the back for the team present this year.

  4. Ken Tucker (AKA Turnip) Reply

    All these texts – it’s like Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron all over again!

    Seriously, this is such great news. You sound like a SWAT team, helicoptering in, getting the goods and getting out again. So pleased it has gone smoothly so far and I hope the return journey goes just as well. It must be strange to go all that way and not be staying. Well done, Nige and everyone involved. This has to be better than transporting them once hatched. Far less stressful – well, for the birds at least.

    All the best. I still have everything crossed.

    • Baz Reply

      SWAT team indeed Ken! The whole team in Chukotka have done an incredible job this year.

      It’s all hands to the pumps here at Slimbridge now. You wouldn’t believe how much “stuff” there is to organise just to get 20 birds’ eggs from Russia to the UK. Or maybe you would.

      Looks like we might be getting the eggs back to Slimbridge next week if all goes according to plan. Which it might … Or might not!

      We’ll keep you all posted as things develop.

  5. Another text from Nige, sent to Baz on Monday …

    Liz B. packed eggs in portable incubator at 11. Chopper landed Meino at 12.30. We took off again at 2pm. Landed Anadyr at 3.30 and transferred eggs to Hemel incubator at 5.30. Phew! Now trying to stabilise Hemel as temps fluctuate. Roland has 4 SbS eggs. Russian team believes there are 3 more territories with nests 🙂

  6. Ben Baber Reply

    Hi guys can you get a text to Nige saying hi from Ben @ Maplin and wishing you all good luck with the next stage of the expedition. Hope the kit is holding out for you.

    • Baz Reply

      Hi Ben

      Just texted this to Nige. Thanks for the comment and thanks for supplying the jump starter!

  7. Baz Reply

    12:28 (BST), Saturday 30 June @ Moscow.
    Text from Nige. Ben. Your advice and the equipment you recommended and supplied has been invaluable to the egg translocation. We provided power to the incubator using the jump starter over the 1.5 hr helicopter flight and for 8 of the 12hrs on the plane from Anadyr to Moscow. We used the universal adaptor to connect to the mains socket in the aircraft galley when the jump starter was running low on juice, and also for c 2hrs in the terminal at Yakutsk where we stopped to refuel. Fantastic kit! Tonight I’ll candle the eggs to see if the embryos they contain have survived the ordeal. Keep your fingers crossed!

  8. Ken Tucker (AKA Turnip) Reply

    Bloody hell. Edge of the seat stuff, yet again.

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