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.

Two new pairs of birds and one new pair of team members

Good news: two new pairs of Spoon-billed Sandpipers were found over the last two days.

Sayam and Tom found one in the western delta with a female ready to lay, and Phil and I found one on a spit on the south shore of Piculnej Lake, where they have never been recorded.

Today the first clutch had its first ‘check up,’ as Liz B candled the four eggs to find progress satisfactory —all are developing.

Another clutch joined them on 17 June, to bring the total number of Spoon-billed Sandpiper eggs now in the incubator to eight.

Amidst the excitement of first nests and clutches, Roland and Yuri arrived to Meinypil’gyno on Friday the 15th—after only one night in Anadyr. We welcomed them by celebrating Roland’s birthday on Sunday with another of Sveta’s feasts.

Roland will stay into August to help with the head-start program, and finalised the aviary site selection today. The area has vegetation appropriate for releasing juveniles, including some dwarf willow for cover from predators. There is a water body nearby and enough space to park the vestikhot (the Russian tank) which will be used by the camping aviculturists.

Notable sightings in recent days were several Ivory and Sabine’s Gulls at the riverside, a couple of Gyrfalcons in the moraine hills, a juvenile Golden Eagle, and the first Arctic Warbler. Roland and Baz saw a few Beluga Whales.

Christoph, Egor, Tom and Baz and headed further west today for a several-day expedition to scope for new habitat and check historical nesting sites.


Ivory Gull c Sayam U  Chowdury

Ivory Gull c Sayam U Chowdury


  1. Ken Tucker (AKA Turnip) Reply

    Things moving on rapidly. Welcome to Roland and great to hear that you got there so quickly. Sending a big hug like the one you gave me when we first met last December. Sleeping in a tank? Crikey! Hope it all goes well.

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