Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Curlew

There can be few sounds more evocative of an upland spring than the haunting, falling call of the curlew. For many, it is the first sign of the season's arrival; a hopeful moving-on from winter.

Here in Redesdale, curlews are all around during their breeding season and at all times of day. Often, on a still night, I have the midnight chime at St. John's in the village on one side and a curlew calling from the moors on the other.

The Tynedale poet Wilfrid Wilson Gibson was moved sufficiently by the curlew's call to write:

That note - that note!
Comes there so clear a call from any throat,
So clear a call to me
Back to the hills, the hills of memory?

The curlew's call
Is April sunshine on cold fells, and all
Rapture of youth to me,
Calling me to the hills, the hills of memory.

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

W. W. Gibson's poem Curlew is included in a collection of his work entitled Homecoming, published by the Wagtail Press in 2003 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of his birth in Hexham. It is included here with the publisher's permission.


holdingmoments said...

I remember the first time I heard a Curlew Emma, (not so long ago), and I likened it to 'liquid bubbles.'
An enchanting sound.
That is an excellent picture. Far better than my efforts.

PCF said...

Yes the Curlew has a wonderful call unfortunately now largely silent on Prestwick Carr but they'll be back next February!
Thanks for your comment. When you keep lists there will always be one species or gap that needs filling so I guess that's what keeps you going. I shouldn't be suprised to see a Nuthatch though as over the years I've also seen Marsh and Hen Harriers, Red backed Shrike, Bittern and half a Hobby from that unremarkable spot!!

Anonymous said...

I would like to hear the Curlew all the time Emma. I think its a wonderful sound and tells me straight away that I am out in the countryside somwhere.