To raise aware­ness of

More than pro­gramme mak­ing

Bird Watching (UK) - - Species Curlews -

I will go there as soon as I fin­ish. It also misses some places in the north of Eng­land that are Curlew hotspots, but in terms of a walk, the Ir­ish loughs, the moun­tains of Wales and the farm­land of Eng­land hold many sto­ries, folk­lore and per­sonal tales of Curlews, and most of them yet to be told. Those I al­ready know about show how much the Curlew has in­flu­enced our cul­tural life. They ap­pear in spir­i­tual writ­ings, po­etry, lit­er­a­ture, art and music. From ear­li­est times, Curlews were wo­ven into the folk­lore of farm­ers and fish­er­men, even monks. One me­dieval monk wrote, “The Curlew can­not sleep at all/ His voice is shrill above the deep / Re­ver­ber­a­tions of the storm; / Be­tween the streams he will not sleep.” That evoca­tive call must have been a con­stant re­frain over the lakes and bogs, melan­cholic and pow­er­ful. “In the Curlew call­ing time of Ir­ish dusk,” wrote John Mase­field about the glens of Antrim, a place where St Patrick worked as a shep­herd, and tra­di­tion has it that Curlews ar­rive back in the hills to breed on the Feast of St Patrick, March 17th. In many works of lit­er­ary fic­tion their call is used as a kind of mood music, in­di­cat­ing a feel­ing of yearn­ing, pas­sion or grief. They carry mes­sages from the wilder­ness, evok­ing for many what the Welsh call ‘hi­raeth’. There is no di­rect English trans­la­tion but is best thought of as a mix­ture of long­ing or wist­ful­ness. The Ox­ford and Mer­riam Web­ster dic­tio­nar­ies de­fine hi­raeth as “a home­sick­ness for a home you can­not re­turn to, or that never was.”

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