I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to see the Curlew (Numenius arquata) quite frequently during the winter months as the birds graze along the seashore and in adjacent playing fields at a seaside town close to where I live in south Wales. But the Curlew is in trouble. Due to changes in the habitat management of its breeding grounds and possibly to an increase in predatory mammals like foxes, the Curlew population has seen worrying declines in recent decades and the bird is now an amber-listed species in Britain.
Today, 21 April, is World Curlew Day, a day not only to celebrate all the various species of Curlew but also to recognise that these birds are threatened all over the world, and to focus on the research, conservation programmes, and support initiatives needed to ensure their continued survival.
This particular date was chosen because of the Curlew’s special link with Wales. A post on the Wader Study Group website explains:
April 21 was chosen to be World Curlew Day because of a delightful, traditional Welsh tale that identifies the first curlew conservationist. St Beuno, was a 6th century abbot from Wales. Legend has it he was sailing off the coast when he dropped his prayer book in the sea. A curlew flew over and rescued it and took it to the shore to dry. The grateful St Beuno decreed that from then on, the bird be given special protection and that its nest must be difficult to find; which is indeed the case.
You can read more about the RSPB’s Curlew Recovery programme here, and about the international Curlew situation on the BTO website here. There is also a World Curlew Day Facebook page here and a Twitter page here.