I bloody love birds, me

The World Curlew Day event, organised by Curlew Action, was down in the New Forest this year. To be part of it I went down on my mountain bike with a tent and made the trip into a micro adventure.

Mixing canal path, cycle way, quiet lanes and off road singletrack I squeezed in 100 miles of pedalling and let the train take the strain for the rest of the journey.

Quick fact check on the New Forest. It’s not new and it’s not all forest, being instead a lovely mix of lowland heath, ancient and newer woodland, mires and marshland.

Biodiversity is rich because of this variety of habitat and the lack of drainage for agriculture, over a fair bit of the national park. Unlike in most of the north there are many massive old trees.

The Day started with a fascinating walk led by Professor Russ Winn who turned out to be a top notch bog boffin. He explained the ecology and how conservation of the breeding curlew population fits in with work to protect and restore other species and habitats, as well as balancing the needs of people walking their dogs, riding horses and generally getting out of the madness for some biophilia. It’s not an easy job as you can imagine.

As well as leading us to see curlews, he showed us some mad shit, including super rare Nail fungus that thrives on wild pony poo*, some Moon Poo Slime Mould (look it up), ravens, a redstart, wild ponies and deer.

A nice man from Leica lent us binoculars so that we could all get a good look at the wildlife without getting so close as to disturb anything.

“David Gray the platinum selling song man was there singing some tunes and talking about his love for curlews…”

The final part of the day was at a very posh man’s place – the Beaulieu estate. You might have heard of the motor museum. Here we had an update on the good as well as bad news of the plight of our beloved curlew. There is hope but there’s no certainty that this most evocative of British birds will escape extinction. They really need our help.

David Gray the platinum selling song man was there singing some tunes and talking about his love for curlews and the inspiration he gets from nature. Whether you think he’s uncool doesn’t matter, this bloke really means what he says and he belts out his songs. He’s my new guilty pleasure.

Curlew Action need your donations to keep the conservation and education projects going. It’s not just about the birds, really they are an indicator of the health of the natural world of which wee are a part. No nature, no you and me.

I haven’t asked yet but I think we need a Curlew event up north. Probably with some wild dancing.

I bloody love a bit of biophilia me.

*As the ponies are wild they aren’t treated with medication and their poo doesn’t kill certain types of fungus. This in turn encourages invertebrates which are a diet source to wading birds like curlews. Win, win, win.

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