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.

News from the field

Our indefatigable aviculturist in the field, Roland Digby, has been run off his feet but he’s managed to send a few short emails. I’m sure you’ll appreciate the news he has… ROLAND (29/06/2014 18:13): The 2011 head-started bird (lime green 8), has laid eggs!! W
Continue Reading →

The current state of play in Meinypilgyno

Here’s an update from Roland Digby regarding the current state of play in Meinypilgyno. The extensive flooding made for a trying start to the 2014 breeding season. However, it appears that the Spoon-billed Sandpiper population in Meinypilgyno may have stabilised at around 12 pai
Continue Reading →

First hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper returns to breed

The first hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper has returned to breed in Chukotka, Russia, where it was hatched two years ago. The spoon-billed sandpiper is unique in the animal kingdom for being born with a spoon-shaped beak. Numbers have declined by a quarter year on year and it is lik
Continue Reading →

Courtship in Chukotka and Slimbridge

Roland Digby has been in Chukotka, at the spoon-billed sandpipers’ breeding ground for the last two summers, hatching and hand-rearing chicks in what is known as “headstarting”. It helps stabilise the declining spoon-billed sandpiper population and he’s back there for a third time thi
Continue Reading →

First birds arrive late to breeding grounds

Roland Digby has again joined the annual expedition to Chukotka to ‘headstart’ a new generation of spoon-billed sandpiper fledglings on the breeding grounds. He has sent his first report: The large amount of winter snow and late spring meant the spoon-billed sandpipers arrived late th
Continue Reading →
Male adult spoon-billed sandpiper, shortly after arriving at the Meinypilg'yno breeding grounds (c) Roland Digby

PHOTOS: Giving spoon-billed sandpipers a helping hand

Here is a gallery of images from this year’s expedition to headstart spoon-billed sandpipers in Chukotka. Enjoy!
Continue Reading →
Young spoon-billed sandpiper (c) Nicky Hiscock

Spoon-billed sandpiper numbers boosted by conservationists

Critically endangered spoon-billed sandpipers fledglings have increased in number by a quarter in 2013, after conservationists intervened to hand rear chicks. As few as 100 breeding pairs remain in the wild, rearing just 60 young between them each year on average. The 16 additional ha
Continue Reading →
Young spoon-billed sandpiper (c) Nicky Hiscock

Headstarting spoon-billed sandpipers – Roland’s account

Roland and Nicky returned from Russia last week, after a successful expedition headstarting spoon-billed sandpipers. They’re taking some well-earned time off now, but Roland still kindly gave us a debrief: From my perspective this year was so much better. We learned a lot last year be
Continue Reading →

Spoon-billed sandpiper chicks are doing well

Roland, Nicky and the team have been without internet for the best part of a week, but last night Roland sent some notes on what’s been happening. All the eggs hatched okay in the end. One chick was badly positioned in the egg and needed assistance once it became apparent that it was
Continue Reading →

‘Headstarted’ spoon-billed sandpipers hatch

Twenty critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper chicks have hatched under WWT’s expert care in the Russian Far East. Conservationists took the eggs from the wild, in order to protect them from extreme weather and predators. The first hatched early last Wednesday morning and they c
Continue Reading →