I would love to write about joy


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Posted on June 12, 2020


Harriet's notes made on Sunday ....

"I want to write about joy ... I would love to write about joy. A story of the free and unfettered thriving of curlews finding their way, nesting peacefully, nurturing hatchlings, then wandering through meadow grasses. Young curlew, flying into a warm summer sky, testing out the air and strengthening their wings, ready for the longer flight to the wintering grounds.

I would love to write that joyful story, I would love to write about joy.

And there was a dose of it today - in the golden glow of late evening sun we heard the mewing calls of what we supposed were curlew chicks. So we stopped in our tracks and trained our binoculars on the field ahead of us, scouring the mixed grass and swaying sorrel for a sign of a bird revealing itself from its world of perfect camouflage. And there they were, two chicks, and one parent casually walking beside them.

When our neighbours came out of their house and walked with their young children across the top of the field, the adults lifted and flew low over the humans, spilling their cur-lee cur-lee cur-lee call from their curved beaks, sending a warning across the sky."

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For any of you who have been following curlews where you live, or maybe have noticed our posts about curlews in our neighbourhood, our latest update is that we have a family very close to us. And our nerves are frayed. Having witnessed the predation of a nest back in April, then the almost certain loss of young chicks due to grass cutting at the weekend (three pairs of adults circling and circling, calling and calling in search of their broods), we are now hopeful but fearful for these new chicks who are, so far, doing well.

We'll keep you updated on their progress but for now here are a few photos of one of the adults, just an hour ago: first in flight, and then settled above the field: it spends a lot of time standing there, keeping a watchful eye out. At the first sign of danger it lifts and circles the field, calling, cur-lee, cur-lee, cur-lee.

The group of curlew-watchers, farmers, ornithologists and conservationists we've become involved with have very sadly been reporting a whole series of losses, so it would be wonderful to report some success. The birds really need help right now - they're on the brink of extinction. And having got as involved as we have, we know our commitment won't finish with the end of this breeding season: we've learnt so much and know that there is still a hope of change. We're not letting go of that.  We're having some very encouraging conversations with local curlew enthusiasts to see what might be done differently next year, to begin to give these birds some help. 

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Morecambe Bay Partnership, who've been doing excellent work bringing people together who are all looking out for curlews, is raising funds to put towards protecting curlews - if you'd like to donate, please follow this link: https://www.morecambebay.org.uk/you-can-save-local-curlews

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