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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.

Slimbridge Spoonies: They hatched, they grew, they fledged!

Update from Jodie Clements After what felt like an eternity, the eggs had finally been incubated long enough to see whether or not they were fertile… we had some concerns over fertility as no obviously successful copulations had been witnessed. You may be thinking, well this is a priv
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Eggs in hatcher all imminently about to hatch, 2 July 2016. Photo by Roland Digby/WWT.

News from the field: Chicks, chicks and more chicks

The team reached their target of collecting 36 eggs and within days, 22 of those eggs hatched! The chicks are doing well and should all be ready for a single release in a few weeks time.  Last time we heard from Roland he reported that the incubator was almost full with 32 eggs but th
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32 eggs safely in an incubator at Meinypil’gyno base camp, 22 June 2016. Photo by Roland Digby.

News from the field: An almost full incubator, a breakdown and T8!

A quick update to let you know that the team in Russia now has 32 eggs, not all the collection trips have gone smoothly with the quad bike transporting the last clutch breaking down at the western oil drills, and another headstarted bird, White T8, has been spotted. Roland has let us
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Two of the eggs at Slimbridge are fertile and developing well

On Tuesday, the eggs at Slimbridge were candled (tested for fertility) and at least two eggs are looking good! One egg from the first clutch and one from the second. As described in the blog announcing the eggs, the captive Spoon-billed Sandpipers at Slimbridge produced two clutches o
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News from the field: More eggs and some good and bad news from the western oil drills

Update just in from Roland: the western area of Meinypil’gyno is proving good for pairs this year, a bird from the 2014 headstarting cohort has been spotted and 20 eggs are in the incubator. On the 15 June, a small team including Nikolai, Egor and Roman and Sveta’s family, heade
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First egg collection of the 2016 expedition, 13 June 2016.

News from the field: First eggs collected in Russia

Egg collection at Meinypil’gyno is underway and another headstarted bird has been spotted – White E7, headstarted just last year. The first eggs required for the headstarting programme were collected a couple of days ago, on 13 June. Three clutches have been collected so far tot
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Nest of the second pair containing two dummy eggs and one freshly laid Spoon-billed Sandpiper egg, this pair's fifth. Photo by Tanya Grigg.

Spoon-billed Sandpipers have finally laid eggs at WWT Slimbridge!

Two weeks ago we updated you on some positive signs that the captive population at WWT Slimbridge might breed this year. Now we have the great pleasure to tell you that WE HAVE EGGS, the first captive Spoon-billed Sandpiper eggs in history. We have been nervously watching the birds si
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Light green A1 back at the breeding grounds on 8 June 2016. Photo by Egor Loktionov.

News from the field: Dry conditions, a bear and the first photos

As reported in the last blog, conditions this year are unusually warm and dry. While these conditions have been good for breeding habitat in some low-level areas, conditions are too dry in many of the key areas used by breeding Spoon-billed Sandpipers in recent years at Meinypil’gyno.
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24-hour old Spoon-billed Sandpiper chick (Paul Marshall)

The first pictures and video

Once again, apologies for the intermittent and brief posts this week. For Nige and Nicky it has been full-on, 24 hours a day, looking after the rapidly growing chicks and checking the as-yet-unhatched eggs. So…what has been happening? Well, after the eggs arrived at Slimbridge l
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Liz hands over to Nigel before the flight

Incubating eggs safely landed in Anadyr

Today was miraculous: for the third time in the expedition, the helicopter flew as originally scheduled. This time, for the 1.5 hour flight from Meinypil’gyno to Anadyr, the helicopter carried the incubator, attached to a battery, and with a full complement of eggs. The charge of the
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