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.

Beginning to pair up

Karin writes: Things are beginning to move very quickly now. Given the need to fledge young before the end of the short arctic summer, the birds have no time to waste. Each of the three teams that went out into the moraine hills and plains, areas in which we had many nests in the past
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Spoon-billed sandpiper feeding on worms (c) Baz Scampion

Observing SbS with a warm bottom

Baz Scampion writes: I had one of my best days of birding and bird photography in a long time today. Everywhere I looked the birds kept popping up in front of me. There were a couple of obliging SbS feeding in the river, and loads of good waders like stunning summer plumage Grey Plove
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Snow in the summer

Karin writes: June 1 marks the first day of the meteorological summer—the three warmest months of the year—but the summer in Meinypil’gyno began with snow and frost. Tom is in awe of how the SbS and other tiny waders leave places like Myanmar in the hottest season, to fly
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Butter and calibration

The WWT group split today, as Brown fought fever to carry on with calibration while Hesky patched up incubators and rearers that had been stored through an arctic winter in sub-zero temperatures. Melted butter was the only form of lubrication in the house to get the ceased parts movin
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Terek Sandpiper (c) Phil Palmer

Photographer on Ice

Phil writes: Getting out early to Third River, where yesterday’s SbS had been seen, I found only one present with a flighty flock of Dunlin and Red-necked Stint. By mid-morning they were more settled, so I slowly walked to the mid-stream ice sheet and laid down on it. Soon a Terek San
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Sandhill crane eggs (c) Karin Eberhardt

Let Sleeping Bears Lie

Phil Palmer writes: It’s spring on the tundra, and as the snow melts it reveals the autumn crowberry crop, still available as food for the first migrant birds. The Moss Campion is opening in pink domes, willow catkins are furring up and the dwarf rhododendron budding. Notable sighting
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Preparing the incubator room

Richard Smith writes: I slept for 7 hours …amazing, and I feel a lot better for it, but once I open my eyes that’s it, its up time. With the house clean and the way we wanted it, we started on what will be the incubator room. Using deep cleaning materials, the place started to s
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Quad bike in the snow (c) Christoph Zockler

Red Knots and Computer Chips

Karin writes: Light snow in the morning turned to clear blue skies in the afternoon. Christoph, Phil and Tom took the last chance to cross the thinning river ice to the alongshore spit, to sip hot tea by a spit-top fire while watching birds migrate north along the coast and whales fee
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Harlequin duck (c) Christoph Zockler

Getting ready…

Karin writes: After moving house with the aid of the ‘go anywhere’ vestikhod, the unstoppable Russian Caterpillar, and a few good card games while waiting for it to arrive, the WWT team spent the afternoon cleaning and disinfecting what is to become the Incubation Facility. Set up in
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House-keeping and spring-cleaning

Richard Smith writes: First thing I headed out to the slag heap, the highest point by thirty feet for miles around. It’s a great vantage point with good views of a section of ice-free river that grows by the day. Good numbers of Harlequin and Long-tailed Ducks but the best views
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