Curlews in New Barnet? – Guest blog by Pat Holbourn

Pat is one of Curlew Country’s dedicated volunteers, who spends time in the season looking for signs of nesting curlew, as well as helping us out behind the scenes at events and training days. Our volunteers are vital to keeping our work moving forward, and we are so grateful for their input!

My fascination with curlews began as a child, reading adventures set in the wild countryside of Britain,  imagining the mysterious bird with a plaintive call that haunted the moors, it became a symbol of freedom. New Barnet could not boast such a creature that seemed more like the mythical Unicorn than a bird.

I did not hear one until my early teens when exploring the countryside around my mothers home in Wales.

While at college in Manchester, I heard Curlews while walking in the Pennines and on solitary rambles in the Lake District.  The longing for the wild burble was one of the reasons I headed for the mountains, not realising that the Curlew rarely lives high on mountain sides, nevertheless there were  many other magical encounters, such as Golden Eagles dinning on a dead sheep in The Cairngorms, migrating Dotterel in The Black Mountains.

In fact Shropshire is the county I have heard the greatest number of these birds.

One day I realised that from each home I have lived in I had to range further and further to find this charismatic wader.  Wanting to learn more about the birds I joined The Upper Onny Wildlife Group and later ‘Curlew Country’.  Once again I hear them every spring when looking for their territories but as we all know they are getting fewer and fewer.  Some highlights are: standing watching a young Curlew walk down a long drive to within 10 feet of me (I didn’t have a camera); watching two fighting off cruising Kites;  watching their territorial flight accompanied by that call is the most heart wrenching of experiences.

Of course watching Curlews fly and feed is a real privilege but the sight of one outlined on the skyline going about its business re-enforces what a large splendid bird it is  and we  hope that haunting call and sight, will not become a myth only be found in stories.

Back to Curlew Country blog posts here…

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