In summer 2011 I had the opportunity to spend 2 months in the core breeding area of Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Chukotka (eastern Russia). It was a dream for me to visit the breeding areas of eastern arctic waders. The landscape around Meynipylgino is just fantastic and beside Spoon-billed Sandpipers I could observe a variety of arctic breeding birds and migrants such as Ross’ Gull, Spectacled Eider and Emperor Goose.
North shore of Lake Pekulneyskoye in late May
White-billed Diver in mid June, when most large waterbodies were still almost completely frozen.
Ross’ Gull was a rare migrant in eaarly June.
Emperor Goose is a scarce breeding bird in the area.
However, the reason to be there was a sad one: The Spoon-billed Sandpiper had declined dramatically in recent years due to hunting in the wintering areas in Myanmar and Bangladesh as well as the destruction of the stopover sites in South Korea and China. While there are recent improvements in the wintering sites, the habitat destruction is still going on. The population size of this enigmatic wader is worrying and it was decided that a backup in captivity will be necessary for future reintroduction.
Part of our team were WWT-employees Nigel Jarret and Martin McGill, who were responsible for egg-collecting and chick-rearing. The logistics were organized by Liza Tambovtseva from Birds Russia. Thanks to all of them for their enthusiastic work and great company!
Nigel, Martin & Liza
The result of the expedition can be viewed on many websites: Spoon-billed Sandpipers in an aviary in Britain. Now a video of the expedition was published by WWT – just buy it and support the work of WWT, so that many generations of birders can enjoy views of Spoon-billed Sandpipers in future!