Tobseda is a small abandoned village on the Arctic coast of Western Russia, 68°35’25.9″N 52°17’23.8″E. The 10km2 area surrounding the village contains a great variety of habitats, including shallow lakes, mud flats, swampy ground, meadows, scrubby grassland and sand dunes. These habitats support an extremely high density of waders, with ~30 nests found within 1km of the house in 2019. In particular, Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Grey Plovers, Temminck’s Stints, Little Stints, Ruffs and Red-Necked phalaropes all breed at high density. At lower densities Oyster Catchers and Wood Sandpipers can also be found.

Beyond the immediate 10km2, the site is isolated by the Arctic sea to the West and South, by extensive sand flats to the North, and by food-rich mud flats to the East. Although goose shooting occurs at the site in mid-May, there is no human presence (excluding researchers) from late may onwards. Probably as a result of this relative isolation, land predators such as Arctic foxes are rare and nest success measured in 2019 was ~80% (n=66 nests).

The main disadvantage of Tobseda is the site’s remoteness: it is accessible by helicopter from the Town of Naryan-Mar; however there is no internet connection, electricity only if a generator is transported, and water must be collected from wells in the village. However this remoteness comes with the advantages of pristine natural landscapes, high wader density and minimal human disturbance, making it an excellent choice for future fieldwork projects.

The 2019 Tobseda Early Period Research Team consisted of four researchers studying Long-Tailed Duck migration and diet – Ingrid, Kara, Viktor and Marina; two researchers studying Barnacle Goose migration and predation – Chiel and Sten; and one Élvonal-funded researcher studying wader population structure – Kees.

Photos are owned by Dr Ingrid Pollet & nest camera captures.

group photo 1

From left to right: Sten, Kara, Chiel, Viktor, Marina, Kees and Ingrid