From a March 2018 news bulletin and approved for publishing by EAAFP SBS Task Force. An organisation which accompanied us on multiple expeditions to the Russian Far East. Together we've been fighting for the conservation and protection of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
The Last Leg with Rodney
For the seventh time the New Zealand travel company Heritage Expedition invited the SBS Task Force to join its cruise through the Bering Sea exploring its spectacular wildlife and search for breeding Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the summer 2017. I was lucky to participate again, my second cruise along the Kamchatka coast after we started the first in 2011.
Right from the start of our cruise along the coast of Kamchatka and Chukotka we witnessed the wild and dynamic landscape with an eruption of the 4.800 m high Kluchevskoie volcano, close up encounters with the magnificent Steller’s Sea Eagle, and numerous whales, seabirds and the rare Red-legged Kittiwake in Commander Islands. Certainly one of the highlights was floating with the splashing walruses. Very special at least for the birding community and the Spoonie-enthusiasts was the encounter with at least three male Spoon-billed Sandpipers engaging in displays and even fighting over territorial disputes (see cover page).Part of this year’s trip was also to cruise along the entire 300 km long coast that is currently planned as a new Nature Park: »Land of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper«! More on this grand plan in the up-coming issues of our newsletter.
For the last time the cruise has been led by Rodney Russ. Rodney generously provided the Task Force for the past seven seasons with opportunities to search for new breeding sites, to engage with interested customers from all over the world and he provided free transport for researchers and in one case even Spoon-billed Sandpiper eggs and chicks from the core breeding area in Meinypylginoto Anadyr. In return the Task Force members gave lectures on board and guided the land excursions in search for breeding birds and helped in other ways with the logistics of the cruise. It has been a truly magnificent win-win relationship for both, a textbook example of cooperate support for conservation. Thank you Rodney! We hope that Heritage Expedition will continue this constructive relationship and we are looking forward to work with Heritage Expeditions and its dedicated team.