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.

The monumental tale of the Monument male, ‘Lime 01’

Photo of Lime 01 at Rudong mudflats by Chen Dong Ming

Photo of Lime 01 at Rudong mudflats by Chen Dong Ming

On the 4th September 2014 Chinese birders spotted a leg-flagged Spoon-billed Sandpiper at Rudong, an important staging post for this critically endangered wader. A flurry of emails soon revealed that this tiny bird was in fact Lime 01, also known as the Monument male because his breeding territory is near a monument in Chukotka, Russia. Lime 01 staged at Rudong last year as well and stayed for the duration of his moult. It is likely he’ll do the same again this year.

Lime 01 was banded and received his ID flag 01 in 2013. We can only guess that in former years it was the very same male breeding in the locality of the Monument. If so, he has been successfully hatching chicks with his partner since at least 2010.

In 2012, the field team collected some of their eggs for conservation breeding at WWT, Slimbridge.

In 2013, the team took Lime 01’s first clutch into captivity for headstarting. Three of the young from that clutch fledged successfully and subsequently migrated. Added to that, Lime 01 and his partner laid a replacement clutch and reared a further three chicks to fledging.

In June 2014, the team again took Lime 01’s first clutch for headstarting, successfully rearing and releasing two chicks, M9 and P9. They were last observed in Meinypilgyno at the beginning of August. We know that Lime 01 and his partner reared at least two additional chicks, with a possibility of a third, but as only one chick was fitted with a metal ring we can’t be completely sure.

On average, wild Spoon-billed Sandpipers only rear 0.6 chicks per nesting attempt, so this bird has produced significantly more offspring than the average!

The Monument male has become a familiar sight for the headstarting team, this year he reared his replacement brood just a few hundred meters from where the majority of headstarted chicks flocked after being released from the rearing aviary. His presence may well help those headstarted birds adapt to natural conditions.

Director of Birds Russia Evgeny Syroechkovskiy said:

“In a way “Lime 01” could be seen as a mentor of all headstarted birds and as having contributed to his species’ survival much more widely than just with his own chicks”.

Lime 01’s contribution to the headstarting programme has been phenomenal and to see him on yet another migration has been welcome news to all the teams involved with Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation.

Evgeny Syroechkovskiy continued:

“Let’s wish him safe travels and long life and for now, a comfortable stay in Rudong”.

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