World Curlew Day
Updated: Apr 23
Welcome to World Curlew Day, a day setting out to raise awareness of curlews everywhere
Extract from Curlew Media site:
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.
Here at CelebrationEarth! we started our curlew conversation yesterday. Today, we’d like to move straight into a celebration of curlews with words from some of our supporters about curlews and their connections with them….
The first time I saw you,
Startled glimpse through patchy hedge
On the sharp bend of an unforgiving lane
You were mythic, unreal, enchanted
As a phoenix or firebird.
And I stopped, wept in wonder
Gazed in adoration.
Looked for you everywhere, after,
Found you in remarkable hundreds
Winter dawn light, muddy fields
Waiting for the tide to turn.
Your eerie cry a summons
A soul demand, a heart washed through
With brown swirling river water.
I loved you most in the air,
The unlikely pattern of your forms
The way your too long
Curving beak defies expectation.
Impossible sky vision as you
Pass over me, away to exposed
Tidal swathes of Severn
Where I could not travel.
When I moved from your floodplain
The absence of your call
Haunted me and the sky was
So empty of you that I lost
Call me again that I may dream
Your flight to marshes and margins
To the inbetween water and sky
Where you wade to plunder
Treasures of river silt.
To the place of tide turning
Oh, bless me with your summons
Though I can never follow.
The north Norfolk coast and the calls of the curlew are ingrained in my memory, seeping deep into my being. A regular visitor to the wild salt marshes while looking after an elderly relative, and then more recently doing anthropological fieldwork, I came to associate the coastline of Cley and Salthouse with their sharp ringing song flights.
In part, the curlew helped me to ‘come home to myself’ by reconnecting with the atmosphere of nature in what I called my ‘shamanic walks’. I could let go – sometimes angrily by screaming into the sea and the wind – of everything that wasn’t necessary. The curlews were a part of the rich cacophony of sound that helped my healing.
Once calmed down, I would sit for hours in the bird hides watching flocks of the speckled brown and cream waders with extravagant blue legs; I marvelled at their elegant down curved beaks, so specialised at digging deep into the mud of the salt marshes at just the right level to extract shrimps and shell fish.
The curlew is in my memory, a beautiful spirit bird that heralds another place - out of anxiety and anger and into calm – but it also beckons to another way of knowing where everything is connected through the call of the wild.
The curlew inhabits a betwixt and between place of magic and enchantment:
Curlew, curlew, curlew,
calling from the wild,
into the wild.
Call me home,
World Curlew Day was planning for Curlew events across the country, across 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 our curlew words. 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!
Facebook: Celebration Earth
From the top,
Goldsitch landcscape: c. G MacLellan
Curlew print: c. Maria Strutz, www.mariastrutz.co.uk
Curlew in flight: c. Ashley Boon, www.ashleyboon.co.uk
Norfolk landscape: c. Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Nimue Brown has been wandering the Druid paths for a while now writes assorted fiction and non-fiction and can be found at www.druidlife.wordpress.com. She lives in Gloucestershire, and used to live much closer to the river, and the curlews.
Dr Susan Greenwood is an anthropologist specialising in magic and alternative modes of perception. She is author of The Nature of Magic: an anthropology of consciousness ([Bloomsbury 2005] Routledge 2020) and Developing Magical Consciousness (Routledge 2020) among others. For full information please visit: http://susangreenwood.apps-1and1.net
with many thanks to our poets, writers,
artists and photographers