• Gordon MacLellan

Curlew calls to open the gates of spring

Have you heard loneliness calling?

A fluting call, a falling ripple.

Wings lift, hold,

A sweeping descent to lift again, and

Loneliness sings a duet

Into hope and an optimism

Of eggs on the moor

Tuesday 21st April is World Curlew Day. It feels that this is a good idea for CelebrationEarth! to support – taking time to look at a bird that heralds change. In a project, I was doing here in the Staffordshire Moorlands, talking round a table of some 15 people we all reported how, separately, we waited for the curlews: listening for that rippling call because when we heard that we knew it was spring….No idea what we are talking about? Visit Curlew Media for information about this increasingly rare bird. And try listening in to the Earth Recording piece for a sense of curlew song in a musical landscape

Extract from Curlew Media site:

World Curlew Day, April 21, raises awareness of curlews everywhere.

Curlews are iconic birds of wild, wet, evocative places – estuaries, mountain slopes, moorland, meadowland and coast. They have inspired poets, artists, musicians and writers for generations. They have given us so much, yet we are allowing them to slip away as we change their habitats and fail to protect them from predation, disturbance and in some places, hunting.

April 21 is designated as World Curlew day. It is a grass-roots initiative, supported by major environmental organisations, to raise awareness of the plight of curlews and to encourage activities to help them. Please organise an event on April 21 and post it on the Twitter: @WCDApril21 or World Curlew Day Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WCDApril21/

World Curlew Day was hoping for Curlew events across the country, across countries, across all the wide lands where curlew fly, but that will not happen quite as hoped now. If you know the bird, maybe stop and think about their presence, what they mean to the land around you – highland moor, farmland pasture, saltmarsh wilds – maybe read some of the curlew poems and accounts that we will post here today and tomorrow. If you do not know curlews, still read, still listen, track them down on a film posted somewhere. Choose your own music that holds those resonances for you and recite a poem over the music. Is there some animal in your life that holds the same power that curlews hold for others?

And if you draw, write, recite your own curlew words, sing your own curlew song, please send it to us to share!


Curlews throughout my life, my first special bird: I've loved their movement,

Long-legged dignity & measured pace.

Their skimming flight.

The way they feed -

Great bill questing, will surely tip over,

but actually wonderfully balanced!

From far distance, shape distinct on edge of tide. Surprisingly big majestic bird That unique call, a haunting sound

Over the mudflats in the gloom of dusk.

Known forever.

Arthur Billington, Hon. Bard OBOD


Curlew photograph: c. Ashley Boon, www.ashleyboon.co.uk

Curlew painting: c.Chris Rainham: Twitter @CRainham and Instagram @rainhamchristopher

Curlew country, photograph: c. Ian MacLellan

Curlews Poem

c. Arthur BIllington, Hon. Bard OBOD

Many thanks for our artists for their images and to Arthur for the first of our Curlew contributions from the friends of CelebrationEarth!

Next blog: World Curlew Day itself – in celebration of curlews!

82 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All