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.

Whales and cabbage

Karin Eberhardt writes: What do gray whales and fermented cabbage have in common? The same unbelievable stench! Clear blue skies and wind continued today as most of the team crossed the dubious rotting ice over the channel to explore parts of the 50 kilometers-long alongshore gravel s
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First day of exploring the tundra

Richard Smith writes: I woke with the sun streaming in all the windows (there are no curtains) at 2.30am local time. It hadn’t even got dark! At 3.10 though a large flock of White-fronted Geese fly past my window and 20 minutes later a flock of Sandhill Cranes headed in the same direc
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In record time

Karin Eberhardt writes: Never in the history of the spoon-billed sandpiper expeditions has the journey from Moscow to Meinypil’gyno been as swift. The town of Anadyr, Gateway to Chukotka, is notorious for weather and bureaucratic delays. But thanks to Nikolai’s quick logistical
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Helicopter to Meinypil’gyno

Richard Smith writes: 3 hours sleep is all I got… Nikolay greeted us and told us we were Team Ironman from now on due to last nights mammoth performance… we have gained a little respect. I wandered out about 6ish and picked up my first Pacific golden plover and long-toed s
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Anadyr

Richard Smith writes: At Anadyr we fly out over the Bering Sea to line up for landing. Its solid as far as the eye can see. Landed 11.30 local time. We all get through customs smoothly. Then we sit and wait in the airport for our paperwork to be checked and transport to arrive. By 12.
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Flight to Anadyr

Richard Smith writes: Flight not till 7.30pm so we take a few hours to explore. We headed straight for the fast and efficient underground. We get to the centre and headed to the Kremlin (impressive in red and green brick, imposing with an air of dark history) and the Red Square (massi
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3/4 of R2L2: Richard Hesketh, Liz Mackley and Richard Smith at Slimbridge

Arrival in Moscow

Richard Smith writes: R2L2, the WWT-backed rearing team, is complete: The Bossman Hesky (Richard Hesketh), the Brains Mackley (Liz Mackley) and the Brawn Smithy (me!) have been joined by our Kiwi counterpart and wader-rearing extraordinaire Mother Hen Brown (Liz Brown). SBS Expo is we
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Birds checked over by the Moscow Zoo vet

Since the birds’ stay in Moscow has been prolonged, Nige and Roland have been taking it in turns to oversee their care in Moscow. Nige returned to Moscow at the weekend and reports that yesterday the birds were checked over by the Moscow Zoo vet. She listened to their breathing with a
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Birds delayed in quarantine in Moscow

We’re very sorry to say that, having expected the birds back in the UK on 13 October, they have been delayed in Moscow. Our apologies to anyone reading The Guardian yesterday, who will have read that they did arrive. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get the message to the editorial t
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Back in Moscow to resume care of the spoon-billed sandpipers

Nigel reports: I flew to Moscow on  1 October to relieve Roland, who’s been looking after the birds pretty much on his own while they’ve been in quarantine at Moscow zoo. I arrived just before 4pm. I collected my luggage, in which were dismantled crates we’re going t
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