The Curlew’s plight. Here’s her story

Bird Watching (UK) - - Species Curlews -

“A Curlew’s lin­ger­ing thread­bare cry,” wrote the Ir­ish poet Thomas Kin­sella. This yearn­ing is used time and again in mod­ern Celtic sto­ries. Laura Smith, in her book Mem­o­ries of a Curlew, a novel about the Nor­man in­va­sion of Wales, wrote to me that: “The Curlew is used as a metaphor through­out the novel, for the pain and an­guish ex­pe­ri­enced at that time. Many peo­ple these days do not un­der­stand the sheer dread­ful­ness of the Nor­man in­va­sion.” Oth­ers, though, have found joy in the call of the Curlew; a sound that couldn’t be fur­ther from pain and grief. It her­alds spring, with all its op­ti­mism and ex­cite­ment and the prom­ise of new life. “Through throats where many rivers meet,” is how Dy­lan Thomas heard it. And for Lord Grey “The notes do not sound pas­sion­ate they sug­gest peace, rest, heal­ing joy, an as­sur­ance of hap­pi­ness past, present and to come”. Ge­off Sam­ple, the em­i­nent wildlife sound recordist, de­scribed the call of the Curlew as, “such a force for life, not death”. No mat­ter how we hear the Curlew’s call over mud, moun­tain and meadow, ei­ther as a wist­ful sigh or a joy­ful re­frain, we must do what we can to nur­ture num­bers back to health. The UK holds 25% of the breed­ing pop­u­la­tion of the Eurasian Curlew, Nu­me­nius ar­quata,mak­ing us in­ter­na­tion­ally im­por­tant guardians of this bird of the wilder­ness. Although there are about 68,000 breed­ing pairs in the UK, that num­ber is not as healthy as it sounds. Breed­ing suc­cess is very low, in many ar­eas there are no young fledg­ing at all due to cut­ting for silage, pre­da­tion or tram­pling by live­stock. We are see­ing an age­ing pop­u­la­tion un­able to re­pro­duce in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers, which can only lead to one con­clu­sion. If we don’t act we will be guilty of a dere­lic­tion of duty of care for a very spe­cial bird. But more than that, we will lose a pre­cious part of our spir­i­tual, cul­tural and bi­o­log­i­cal heritage. Let us not lose the “call of the wild.” The large, grace­ful, ab­surdly long-billed Curlew is a beau­ti­ful bird, but re­ally comes into its own when you hear it de­liv­er­ing its evoca­tive bub­bling song

I wanted to find places where Curlews are still do­ing well, and go to the ar­eas where they are just a mem­ory, thank­fully still a liv­ing one


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