The Taiga forest crossing (see here) took a monumental group effort but we made it and were getting closer to our first major city, Arkhangelsk.
The team grouped together to run through the coming days before Sacha and the media crew headed off to a scientist convention on swan conservation and then onto some school visits.
I wish we could say that this was a profound moment for Dan.. but no, it was just a lucky photo of an apple being thrown between the group!
While Sacha continued her community visits, part of the media crew headed out to Dvina Bay, north of Arkhangelsk to try and find swans for the first time since the tundra.
Taking a photo of Ben filming Sam, while Matt filmed Ben!
The media crew were befriended by a local family and invited in for tea, where we learned all about life in the area as well as their knowledge of swans and how they are protected from hunting.
Sam showing our social media accounts for them to follow.
Leaving little momentos from our visit.
Dvina Bay was a beautiful place to explore with our new friends.
The team finally got a sighting of swans gathering before migrating south. Diva Bay is a major staging post for Bewick's and other wildfowl before they push south.
The media team continued south to quickly head to Rakovie Lake, just north of St. Petersburg, for a scientist conference including WWT scientists. We continued to be greeted by incredible generosity, thank you to everyone who helped the project.
Our hosts took us to a nearby lake where Bewick's have been spotted in the past. Signs of beaver's who naturally control water flow with their dams were seen throughout the area.
We were also introduced to a local conservationist.
We pushed on as we needed to reach Rakovie Lakes in time for the conference!
The scene that greeted us upon our arrival was spectacular.
We all stood there and took it in, even Philip, our brilliant fixer was left spellbound.
WWT Scientists Eileen Rees and Julia Newth (2nd and 4th from left) arrived with Russian colleagues Eugene Genelt-Yanovsky and Yulia Danilova ahead of the Rakovie Lakes conference.
Eugene made so much of our Russian experience a success, organising various community meetings and acting as the translator for the conference. A huge thank you goes to Eugene and Yulia for all their effort and support.
All smiles and support for Flight of The Swans as the conference concluded.
We sat down to a wonderful spread of food before some of the team headed out into the wetland to try and find swans.
We even made a DIY floating hide to try and get closer to the swans! It worked.. somewhat.
Though nothing close up, we were still thrilled by how the past week or so had developed.
A huge thank you has to go to our host Alexander who gave us a wonderful stay. Everything was going well and then we heard news that Sacha had been in an accident and was having to go to hospital.
In the next photo essay we'll look at Sacha's injury scare and then moving on to Estonia.