Our latest update comes from Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, Director of BirdsRussia and Head of the Arctic Biodiversity Conservation Centre of the All-Russian Institute for Nature Conservation.
Evgeny reports that although spring came early on the breeding grounds this year with relatively warm weather in the first half of May, temperatures then cooled and there was snow to greet the first returning Spoon-billed Sandpipers, who arrived on schedule a few days ago. Water levels in the area are currently relatively low and the mouth of the lagoon is already open so the availability of low-level breeding habitat should be good this year.
The field team in Russia are currently splitting their efforts between surveying the very well-known breeding area around Meinypil’gyno and a breeding area discovered last year, southwest of Meinypil’gyno, called Okeanskoe (read about the discovery of this site here). The international team surveying Okeanskoe includes two experienced Spoon-billed Sandpiper Support Group members from Germany, a volunteer from China as well as Russian experts. They’ve been in touch by satellite phone to let Evgeny know that Spoon-billed Sandpipers are arriving in the area, including a marked female who was marked as a chick near Meinypil’gyno in 2014. This is an important record demonstrating something about the dispersal of young birds from their original breeding site (or natal site). In this case, the female has moved over 40 km from her natal site at Meinypil’gyno to nest in Okeanskoe.
The team will return to Meinypil’gyno in about a week. They must time their journey carefully – when the river and lagoon mouths open between Okeanskoe and Meinypil’gyno (due to ice melt) the route back to Meinypil’gyno will be impassable until the high spring waters have receded. Hopefully they’ll return with news of many breeding pairs and sightings of marked birds, perhaps including headstarted birds.