Bécasseau spatule

Ingo Waschkies
Bird Photography


Arctic Ocean


Wrangel Island is situated in the Arctic Ocean, between the Chukchi Sea and the East Siberian Sea. It lies at 140 km from the mainland. The closest island is the small, rocky Herald Island, 60 km to the east.
The island and adjacent waters are a “strict nature reserve” since 1976, and it is highly protected against human activities except for scientific purposes.

Wrangel Island covers a surface of 7,600 km² and is about 125 km wide. It consists of a southern coastal plain of 15 km, a central belt of low mountains, and a northern coastal plain as wide as 25 km. The highest point of the island is Sovetskaya Mountain, with 1,096 metres above sea-level. The east-west mountain range terminates at sea cliffs.

In spite of severe climate, Wrangel Island is a shelter for numerous animal species. It is a breeding ground for polar bears, with as many as 400 females landing here in winter to raise their young. But seals, walruses, whales, lemmings, Arctic foxes and Arctic wolves are present in large numbers. Domestic reindeer were introduced in the 1950s, like the musk ox.
During summer, many types of birds nest on this island. About 400 plant species are growing on the tundra.

Wrangle Island is probably the last place where woolly mammoths lived. Following the disappearance of these animals from Eurasia and North America 10,000 years ago, a population of 500/1000 mammoths survived on the island for a further 6,000 years and managed to maintain a stable population. Their extinction was probably caused by rapid change in the environment such as climate change or arrival of humans.

For all these reasons, Wrangel Island was proclaimed the northernmost World Heritage Site in 2004.

But Wrangel Island is also a breeding ground for numerous bird species. It is the only Snow Goose’s nesting colony in Asia, and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is an endemic breeding species. We can find here the largest seabird colonies on the Chukchi Sea, and this place is the northernmost nesting ground for more than 100 migrating bird species, including the endangered Peregrine Falcon. The island is the densest nesting area for the Snowy Owl.  
About 169 bird species are described on the island, but not all of them nest here. Various and unique birds such as hummingbirds and the Yellow-rumped (myrtle) Warbler are sometimes blown by the winds and reach the island, but probably they do not nest here.

Wrangle Island was described by John Muir in 1881 as “This grand wilderness in its untouched freshness”. This place is one of the world’s more restricted nature reserves, and requires several government permits to visit. It is a very fragile place…           

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia


BBC News - Mammoths' extinction not due to inbreeding, study finds

UNESCO - Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve

State Nature Reserve – Wrangel Island

Bird list:

Arctic Redpoll or Hoary Redpoll - Acanthis hornemanni - Sizerin blanchâtre

Arctic Tern - Sterna paradisaea – Sterne arctique

Arctic Warbler - Phylloscopus borealis - Pouillot boréal

Baird’s Sandpiper - Calidris bairdii - Bécasseau de Baird

Black Guillemot - Cepphus grylle - Guillemot à miroir

Black-legged Kittiwake - Rissa tridactyla - Mouette tridactyle

Brant Goose - Branta bernicla - Bernache cravant 

Brown Shrike - Lanius cristatus - Pie-grièche brune

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis - Bécasseau roussâtre

Cliff Swallow - Petrochelidon pyrrhonota - Hirondelle à front blanc

Common Eider - Somateria mollissima - Eider à duvet

Common Murre - Uria aalge - Guillemot de Troïl

Common Raven – Corvus corax - Grand corbeau

Common Redpoll - Acanthis flammea - Sizerin flammé

Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula - Pluvier grand-gravelot

Crested Auklet - Aethia cristatella - Starique cristatelle

Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis – Junco ardoisé

Dunlin - Calidris alpina - Bécasseau variable

Eastern Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla tschutschensis - Bergeronnette de Béringie

Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens - Goéland à ailes grises

Glaucous Gull - Larus hyperboreus - Goéland bourgmestre

Golden-crowned Sparrow - Zonotrichia atricapilla - Bruant à couronne dorée

Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola - Pluvier argenté

Gyrfalcon - Falco rusticolus - Faucon gerfaut

Herring Gull – Larus argentatus – Goéland argenté

Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris – Alouette hausse-col

Horned Puffin - Fratercula corniculata - Macareux cornu

Ivory Gull - Pagophila eburnea - Mouette blanche

King Eider - Somateria spectabilis - Eider à tête grise

Kittlitz’s Murrelet - Brachyramphus brevirostris - Guillemot de Kittlitz

Lapland Longspur - Calcarius lapponicus - Bruant lapon ou Plectrophane lapon

Little Auk or Dovekie - Alle alle - Mergule nain

Little Bunting - Emberiza pusilla - Bruant nain

Long-tailed Duck - Clangula hyemalis - Harelde boréale

Long-tailed Jaeger - Stercorarius longicaudus - Labbe à longue queue

Northern Pintail - Anas acuta - Canard pilet

Pacific Golden Plover - Pluvialis fulva - Pluvier fauve

Parasitic Jaeger or Arctic Skua - Stercorarius parasiticus - Labbe parasite

Pectoral Sandpiper - Calidris melanotos - Bécasseau tacheté

Pelagic Cormorant - Phalacrocorax pelagicus - Cormoran pélagique

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus - Faucon pèlerin

Pomarine Skua or Jaeger - Stercorarius  pomarinus - Labbe pomarin

Red-breasted Merganser - Mergus serrator - Harle huppé

Red Knot - Calidris canutus - Bécasseau maubèche

Red Phalarope - Phalaropus fulicarius - Phalarope à bec large

Red-throated Diver (Loon) - Gavia stellata - Plongeon catmarin

Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus - Pipit à gorge rousse

Ross’s Goose - Chen rossii – Oie de Ross

Ross’s Gull - Rhodostethia rosea - Mouette de Ross

Rough-legged Buzzard - Buteo lagopus - Buse pattue

Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres - Tournepierre à collier

Sabine’s Gull - Xema sabini - Mouette de Sabine

Savannah Sparrow – Passerculus sandwichensis - Bruant des prés

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - Calidris acuminata - Bécasseau à queue pointue

Short-eared Owl - Asio flammeus - Hibou des marais

Siberian Accentor - Prunella montanella - Accenteur montanelle

Snow Bunting - Plectrophenax nivalis - Bruant des neiges ou Plectrophane des neiges

Snow Goose - Chen caerulescens - Oie des neiges

Snowy Owl - Bubo scandiacus – Harfang des neiges

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - Eurynorhynchus pygmeus - Bécasseau spatule

Thick-billed Murre - Uria lomvia - Guillemot de Brünnich

Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolour – Hirondelle bicolore

Tufted Puffin - Fratercula cirrhata - Macareux huppé

White Wagtail - Motacilla alba - Bergeronnette grise


Sources :

Avibase (Lepage Denis)


Peregrine Falcon

Tom Merigan
Tom Merigan’s Photo Galleries