You know birding and ringing have many directions in this day and age and I love the pace! So many different avenues you can pursue and so many surprises can be had in this modern age of internet, mobile phones and social media. From large county and national year lists to worldwide birding and ringing opportunities at the click of a mouse button! Yet yesterday I had an encounter that bought some nostalgia and emotion that I have not truly experienced for a long time and made me reflect on why I choose to get up so early in the mornings and devote so many hours watching and monitoring the birds of Cornwall and beyond!
At Hayle Estuary located near West Cornwall I found a colour ringed Curlew. As many regular readers of this blog will know colour ring reading is a passion of mine and I never tire of the thrill of finding out where so many of our species originate from. I have had some surprises in the past of long distance migrations and I have also learnt an awful lot of the origins and lifestyles of many of our birds. Waders are normally the most fascinating of them all and can be from just about anywhere in the world!
|The un-seasonal bright sun made photographing the colour ringed Curlew (at the back) very difficult!|
It was great to get such a fast response from Tony Cross of the Curlew Country project informing me that it was the first ever recovery of one of there captive reared birds released in Shropshire! It was originally released at Stiperstones National Nature Reserve on 20th July 2018, yesterday it was located nearly 200 miles away in a flock of roughly 100 other (non-ringed) Curlews at Hayle Estuary.
I was thrilled and decided to take a look at the project and find out why they had decided to captive rear Curlew.
I must admit that I am guilty of glazing over many posts found on social media and online forums asking for help or headlining as the next species we might lose and fear I had done the same with this one! Sounds harsh but it is so frequent now that I feel many projects get lost in the doom and gloom of an ever increasing plea for help and money! Each year the RSPB and BTO seem to be asking for help for a never ending stream of species and get caught up in red tape and bureaucracy and for me the practical element often seems lame when compared with the money raised. Now don't get me wrong I am not criticising the organisations, they must have so many employees that go home emotionally drained, contemplating the future of our wildlife and wonder if it would be far more effective to by a gun and dispatch the decision makers of this country! I am also aware of the many success stories that this country has witnessed and the people who are responsible for these conclusions deserve to be triumphant victors in such times of turmoil! So, with that in mind it was refreshing to see the approach taken by the Curlew Project team. I whole-heartdly feel that the approach they are taking is a pioneering one and is the key to making a real difference moving forward!
Local communities, society's and organisations could be the saviour of so many species if given the right structure and instruction to work with. A worrying rift between the farming community and the environmental sector ( I use the term loosely) has formed in recent years, some difference of opinions are always going to be there as that is the nature of the beast. However, I live in a rural community and know that most farmers or people that rely on the countryside for their living are as concerned as the birders amongst us for the welfare of our natural world.
The Curlew Country website has a brilliant short film capturing the relationship between a retired farmer and the Curlew that use his farm and I would urge you to watch it here: Keeper of the Call Film
Tony Cross stated near the end of the film that this is merely putting a band aid on a wound that needs greater attention! That is the real dilemma and one that seems to be harder than ever to put right. But with the correct relationships and education I hope that the future will see the correct decisions being made and the chance for strong recoveries for many species in the UK.
For more information on the Curlew Country Project or to find out how you can make a donation please visit the following website: https://curlewcountry.org/