Update from Jodie Clements
The second contingent of field workers arrived in Meinypil’gyno on the 5 June as planned! With good weather in Anadyr and a break in the fog at Meino the helicopter was able to fly with just a couple of hours delay. We were greeted by Sveta, Roman and the team with tea and cakes, and eager to hear of recent sightings of spoon-billed sandpiper.
After a good night’s sleep, the majority of the team set off in all directions of the core area in search of spoonies. I met Ivan and Nikolay at the rearing house; rooms, incubators and equipment already cleaned and set up at the new location ready to receive eggs. I brought with me a new incubator to trial, the same type of incubator used at the spoonie facility at WWT Slimbridge this year. I also brought a new, more portable, portable incubator. Hopefully easier to carry on the quad and boat during egg collections. We cleaned these and set them up for testing.
In the following days, one half the field team continued to search the core area while the other half made a 5 day trip West, taking a boat to the coastal spit where the Kerzhak (their transport/ sleeping quarters for the next few days) was waiting for them. This was driven across the frozen waters earlier in the year in preparation for use in Spring, it will remain until the river freezes over again. Though spoonies started to arrive earlier than last year the rate of new sightings is increasing quite slowly. In better news, the first egg had been found at Ankavie on the 8 June. Pavel decided to check a nest cup from the previous year and by pure chance the resident female had laid in this exact same cup. It also happened to be Pavels birthday that day… so perhaps if this clutch is taken for headstarting, this little spoonie should be named Pavel?!
While part of the team were away we made our first egg collection. Nikolay checked a previously located nest in the morning reporting there were three eggs. By the time we arrived with the portable incubator in the afternoon the female had laid the forth so we were able to make a full clutch collection. The male of this pair is T8, a headstarted male. He also bred last year and reared a brood of two to fledging. His female this year is unringed, so we replaced the eggs with dummies to allow Pavel to catch and ring her during her incubation duties.
To date we have collected four clutches, and as I write this Ivan and Nikolay are out collecting the fifth. One of the eggs collected so far was rather unusual; it was in miniature. Perfectly formed in shape and colour but not even the length of the widest part of a normal sized Spoonie egg. When candled this egg contained no yolk. It has been observed in many wild birds on occasion. As there is no chance of it developing it will not be incubated, perhaps taken back for research or a museum piece.
The team exploring the western territories returned yesterday, reporting at least four pairs with a mix of ringed and unringed individuals, and one nest found. The search continues! Stayed tuned for more new from the field.
For a bit of fun, spot the spoonie nest…!