I gave a talk at New Networks for Nature conference last November, a précis of the talk is here. Listening were a folk singing duo called Barron Brady who had provided the music for the event. Ros has a clear, intense voice and Simon plays the guitar beautifully. I talked about the role religions have in the conservation movement and used curlews, not as an example of creatures in decline, but as a bird that can be viewed in many different ways.
A curlew can be Numenius arquata to the scientifically minded, it can be "a thought of God" as Thomas Merton would have said. They can be seen as specific creation of Allah, or as a spark of light from the flame of Lord Shiva. They could even just be a brown bird with a long nose and a beautiful bubbling call. All are valid, all have a place at the table.
After the conference Ros contacted me to ask more about curlews and I told her the story of St Bueno's prayer book being rescued from the waves by a curlew. St Bueno then supposedly blessed the bird and said it should be forever protected. That blessing worked well for a long time, but needs a refresh now. St Bueno's feast day is April 21st, the day I set off on my 500 mile walk.
Well, today Barron Brady sent me this haunting song. Thank you to them, its a fitting tribute to a fabulous bird.