Specialist small-ship expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions offers ‘Siberia’s Forgotten Coast’ tour which explores Kamchatka’s remote coastline and supports the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper. The company is delighted with the latest news that 22 healthy chicks have been released into the wild.
Heritage Expeditions Commercial Director & Expedition Leader Aaron Russ says, “Having supported conservation efforts for the spoon-billed sandpiper since 2011, we are thrilled to learn of this latest success, part of international efforts to help save this incredible wader from extinction.”
Of the 30 eggs collected from Arctic breeding grounds, 22 chicks were successfully reared in captivity before being released recently into their natural habitat of Meinypil'gyno, Russia.
The head of BirdsRussia, a Russian NGO committed to the Conservation and Study of Wild Birds, Dr Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, explains, “The birds are healthy. All 'wards' were provided with tags before release so they can be tracked along the migration routes, which began in early August. We followed them every day documenting who stayed, who has flown away and who is doing what. "
The international ‘head-starting’ project which aims to preserve and increase the bird population was launched nine years ago with the participation of the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, British Royal Society for the Conservation of Birds and the International Spoon-Billed Sandpiper Task Force of the EAAFP and is supported by the Chukotka Government.
These iconic wading birds only breed in Chukotka and northern Kamchatka in the Far East of Russia, a remote, largely inaccessible region, making it difficult for researchers attempting to identify potential new breeding sites for the birds.
However Heritage Expeditions whose purpose-built expedition ships allow them to reach otherwise isolated and inaccessible locations, have been able to support SBS conservation efforts by providing transport for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force and BirdsRussia. This has enabled researchers to visit parts of the 4,500-kilometre coastline in search of breeding pairs and discover new breeding sites. The company has also delivered a new boat and quad bike to assist research and even transported spoon-billed sandpiper eggs and chicks bound for a conservation breeding facility.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force Coordinator Dr Christoph Zöckler describes the partnership with Heritage Expeditions as a ground breaking example for future cooperation in modern conservation. "Nature conservation urgently needs more collaboration with tourists to enhance their efforts to save the ailing biodiversity on this planet. Our relationship with Heritage Expeditions is a win-win situation for both and an outstanding example of an effective relationship between a conservation group and the business sector."
Passengers who join the 14-day Siberia’s Forgotten Coast expedition will not only be able to view spoon-billed sandpipers in Meinypil’gyno the main breeding area in Chukotka, they will also have the chance to play an active role in locating breeding areas in locations never before surveyed.
Every day of the expedition reveals the richness and diversity of wildlife species. Highlights include the Commander Islands where sea otters, a variety of whale species and a plethora of sea birds from red-face cormorants to whiskered auklets may be seen, as well as the Govena Peninsula and the largely unknown Chukotka Coast, both of which are home to brown bears.
Heritage Expeditions’ next Siberia’s Forgotten Coast voyage departs from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on 22nd June 2021. Prices from US$7380pp based on a triple share cabin and includes all meals during the voyage and expedition shore excursions.
images © ACharles, ETan, CCollins, GBreton
Here are some animals in Austria to cheer up animal lovers and who'll be waiting to welcome back holidaymakers when they can visit again.
Huskies in Vorarlberg
In Vorarlberg’s Brandnertal, Anton Kutter raises, trains and cares for 18 huskies. He hosts workshops where visitors can meet the energetic, devoted dogs, learning about their breed and training, then they can set off on snow-shoe and sledding tours through the alpine countryside with the agile pups. There are programmes available for small groups and children, exclusive excursions designed for two people and ‘Husky Workshops Extreme’ featuring three touring sleds and an overnight stay in a mountain camp.
Llamas & Alpacas in SalzburgerLand and Tirol
Hiking on holiday is fun. For children, however, the appeal isn’t always so obvious. Bringing along an animal is a sure-fire way to get kids on board with nature walks. Alpaca and llama treks invite hikers to lead their animal companions through summer forests and winter wonderlands. In SalzburgerLand, head to Zell am See-Kaprun’s high mountain reservoirs for fortnightly alpaca and llama walks, or the Abenteuer Lama Farm in Saalbach Hinterglemm to meet Loriot, Simon and Ronaldo. Trek with the animals through an autumnal paradise in Kitzbüheler Alpen in Tirol, or below wintry night skies in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena.
Marmots on the Grossglockner
The Grossglockner High Alpine Road leading to Austria’s tallest mountain, provides some of Austria's most panoramic views. In surrounding meadows, mountains and rocky terrain live some of Austria’s cutest animals, alpine marmots. You might see these fluffy creatures on the ascent to the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, where they have become accustomed to and curious about their human visitors. To see more mountain residents, look through the Swarovski-Beobachtungswarte binoculars, visit the Murmi-Schau at the Haus Alpine, or stop by the Mankei-Wirt, at which the inn keeper raises tame marmots.
image copyrights: Innsbruck Tourismus, Christhof Lackner, Vorarlberg Tourismus, Markus Gmeiner, Tiroler Zugspitz Arena (de). Husky Toni
Land of the Giants
At least twenty mountains in the St. Elias Range exceed 4,000 metres, a few exceed 5,000 metres, but towering over them all is Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak at 5,959 metres.
Then there's the mighty Yukon River stretching for over 1,800 miles.
Vast regions, varied ecosystems and relatively sparse human population make the Yukon a haven for some of North America's most impressive species - grizzly and black bears, wolves, caribou, moose, muskox and millions of migratory birds.
Almost 80% of the Yukon remains pristine wilderness with just over 10% of the territory fully protected.
All three North American bears: black, grizzly and polar are found in the Yukon, but you are much more likely to see a black bear than a grizzly. Black bears live in forested areas, but grizzly bears range from southern forested areas and across the tundra to the Arctic Ocean. Polar bears are seen on the North Slope and Herschel Island. The Yukon grizzly bear population is one of Canada's largest and most stable in North America and the Alsek River corridor in Kluane National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site has been designated a special preservation area. Shorter summers in the north mean that grizzlies must be as efficient as possible in preparing for their long winter hibernation. In the Yukon, grizzlies depend on thick crops of berries and seasonal runs of salmon to fatten up. In an autumn feeding frenzy, a grizzly can eat 200,000 berries in a single day!
Whether you're an ardent birder or a casual wildlife watcher, the Yukon's flyway comes alive as trumpeter swans, geese, sandhill cranes and other migratory birds travel to and from nesting grounds. Birders converge in the Yukon to search for species including harlequin duck, northern hawk owl, wandering tattler, gyrfalcon and three kinds of ptarmigan.
Yukon is also home to approximately 130,000 – 150,000 caribou in one of North America's last remaining large animal herds. The herd was nominated as one of the seven wonders of Canada a few years ago.
Although the Yukon offers some of Canada's most accessible wilderness, civilisation is never far away in one of the Yukon's ten communities. It also enjoys a culture of rich northern tradition and First Nation (native) customs and beliefs.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and 12 x author. I'm published in national and regional newspapers / magazines.