Friday, 4 December 2015

St Bueno and the Curlew


                        St Beuno and the Eurasian curlew ("Eurasian Curlew" by Andreas Trepte)

In the 7th C AD the grand old welsh St Bueno was sailing between  Llanddwyn and Clynnog when he dropped his prayer book onto the sea.  Suddenly a curlew swooped down, scooped up the book and took it to the shore where it was laid out to dry on rocks.  When St Bueno arrived he was so grateful he blessed the curlew and prayed for its protection.  Hence forth the nest of this most lovely of birds is very difficult to find.

In fact today in Wales it is even more difficult to find as it seems the prayer of St Bueno has run out of steam.  According to a report from the BTO this month "Curlew is one of the upland species that has shown the greatest decline (-49%) and is now considered too be the UK's highest conservation priority." Declines are particularly evident in southern Ireland and Wales.  See this excellent blog by Graham Appleton.

How can this be?  In Ireland curlew were legally shot during November but due to the drastic fall in numbers (2000 breeding pairs in 2001, less than 200 today) that was banned in 2012.  Habitat loss?  Disturbance by dogs then predation of the eggs by crows? Is this a bird out of time?

What can be done?  I might walk from Norfolk to West Ireland dressed like a curlew to raise awareness - and hopefully funds.  Anyone like to join me for sections?

I'd like to walk from possibly Westport in Co Mayo to the Wash, taking in Aberffraw to visit St Bueno's church in Anglesey.

Anyone know who could help make a curlew costume? I don't want it to be whacky, rather more beautiful symbolising what curlews have given is in terms of poetry, literature, music and art. A clothes designer who can work with something waterproof and sturdy to withstand rain and wind!

Any help gratefully received.

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