Last night the sky was full of curlew cry, full of birds their wings and their long slender bills silhouetted in the sky I feel it was no coincidence that that the skies were full of curlews and other nesting birds like lapwings and plovers no coincidence at all that also last night many farmers were out doing an early cut of their grass taking advantage of the growth from this beautiful weather we’ve had, however this early cutting of grass is putting many of our birds at risk the curlews last night frantic in the evening air as their chicks and eggs were being killed by the farmers machinery. The curlews have long held a soft spot in my heart their beautiful haunting cry; haunting yet bringing joy evoking so many memories and emotions within me. I am currently reading Curlew Moon by Mary Colwell, a beautifully written book which I highly recommend to anybody and much of what she says I knew but reading it in black and white makes it seem almost realer. It’s not beyond possibilities that curlews will become extinct in this country in my lifetime and I find that incredibly sad. We are lucky that we have them in our world lucky that we have them in this part of the country and yet I’m also acutely aware that the number returning to our local fields is declining year on year. Each year I look forward to the return of the curlew I heard my first curlew cry of the year on 16 February filling joy in my heart. It’s something that makes my heart sing and nourishes my soul - the call of the curlew and yet there may come a time when I no longer hear this. This morning I saw a solitary lapwing walking amongst the farmers cut grass waiting to be bailed up I wondered if she was looking for her chicks, was she looking for her nest, was she a victim of last night’s grass cutting were her young a casualty of our ever increasing thirst and greed for more, was she one more innocent victim.
The management of our land evokes so many emotions and responses and reactions from so many of us. Grouse shooting for one, I’m not a vegan but I am a vegetarian I do have thoughts about grouse shooting but with grouse shooting comes land management with land management comes homes for birds like our curlews without the land management the moor will become covered in bracken not an ideal nesting ground or habitat for many of our birds. This year there won’t be grouse shooting on Ilkley moor but will there be land management on Ilkley moor? Bradford Council and Friends of Ilkley Moor say there will and I wait to see how things unfurl and fear that once again the bottom line will be funding and the lack of it, with volunteers being heavily relied upon to carry out the conservation work required. This week is volunteers week and perhaps a time for me to think about this more, our natural wildlife and their habitats are important to me perhaps I shall begin some hands on volunteering.
This time of year highlights the fragility and vulnerability of nature not just by man’s actions but nature itself. Visiting the Tarn almost daily I’ve noticed how the number of ducklings reduces, taken by predators a brood of 12 reduced to 4 in a breath. The harsh reality of nature the bullying and fighting, a female mallard almost drowned as she is gang raped by the males and yet as this happens, swallows are swooping to catch the flies to take them back to their hungry chicks. Life is all around the lush green grass, the Hawthorn blossom frothing on the branches the air full of their aroma. The dark and the light the ever changing circles of life and death. This leaves with me two points for reflection – how in tune with nature are you? Volunteering – when did you last do some volunteering? It’s been a while for me but I’ve seen so many benefits from it not only for those that I’ve helped, but also to my own well-being as well as giving me new skills. “As well as helping others, Volunteering has been shown to have a positive impact on the lives of those who volunteer, assisting volunteers in gaining new skills and boosting self-esteem. There are many voluntary organisations in the UK that rely on volunteers to help others” https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/volunteers-week-2018/