Monday, 29 April 2013

The Call of the curlew.

One of the most evocative sounds here at this time of the year is the call of the Curlew.   The largest of our native waders, you are likely to see it on any beach after the tide has gone out.   But when it comes to nesting time a lot of curlew like to nest in our fields and they are already beginning to stake their claims.   That 'coorwee, coorwee sound echoes round the fields as I walk round with the farmer.

The trouble is that this year the grass is very slow to grow and is nowhere near ready for a curlew to build a nest, so I do hope they have the sense to wait a bit longer.   The chicks are so vulnerable when they first hatch out and are the size of a large bumble bee on long legs - one heavy rain storm and they are suffering, so they really need the shelter of the long grass to survive.   There have been times when the farmer has discovered a nest just as he was about to begin silaging and has fenced the nest off with an electric wire to give the birds a chance.

Another bird which nests in the grass is the lapwing with its distinctive 'peewit' call.   It is such a beautiful bird and apart from its high-pitched 'pee-wit' call we hardly notice it but a few usually nest in our marshy field.

Lapwings are a bird of lowland and marsh and are a common bird in Lincolnshire, where I originate.   There they are coloqually called either tyrrwhit or pyewipe and in both cases have an inn named after them.

Birds are an important part of our lives here on the farm and we watch for them coming at their time each year.  This year we still have only two swallows in the barn - most years we have twenty or thirty by now.   And as yet there are no house martins in the eaves of the farmhouse - if they don't arrive I shall miss them greatly.  

14 comments:

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Most year, grass grows here through much of the winter. This year, it has stayed ungrowing until about a week ago. Swallows have arrived though. (At least, I think they are swallows, not swifts - one or the other - I'm not very good on birds!)

Heather said...

Hopefully your summer visitors are just late and waiting for things to warm up a little. I love the calls of lapwings and curlew - they always sound plaintive. We used to see flocks of lapwing on the fields near us but they are a rarity now.

Gwil W said...

Pat, if you go to Lancaster and get the local train to Bare (that's in Morecambe) you might pass a field with hundreds of curlews in it, as I did once. It was a most remarkable sight. In any case Morecambe is a nice day out. A bracing walk on the promenade. And then tea in the upstairs cafe' near the clock midway along the prom where they still, I assume they still do, have traditional seaside waitress service from girls in black uniforms and white pinafores. Some of the girls are not so young either. If you can get a window seat with views over the bay to the Lake District so much the better. I know all this because I have an aunt I like to visit who lives there.

dixie heath said...

I have been waiting on the hummingbirds. They usually migrate this time of year from down in the Southern part of the states and Mexico. It amazes me how tiny they are and how far they fly. We have cardinals, and sparrows, and robins who are trying to make nests on my porch. I guess they are not tall grass birds as they do make a mess on the porch. Have been hearing some mockingbirds. The mimic a lot of bird calls so it is kind of confusing at times. I have seen some blue herron around our water here. We live at the confluence of two rivers and have lots of water birds. Egrets, herrons, cranes and tree swallows who are a beautiful blue who like to nest in a marsh area or next to a river. Hugs from Ohio USA

angryparsnip said...

We have birds all year long but in spring even more. I just love seeing them in my yard. Bright red Cardinals, green/yellow Verdin iridescent Hummingbirds, yellow Oriole,gray blue Hawks, black and white Woodpeckers, grey and red Pyrrhuloxia, all the little Wrens, plus the quail... we do have amazing colorfull birds.
I need to start posting on all them.

cheers, parsnip

jill said...

I think that when the weather has caught up with its self the wildlife will appear.Hope you are well Pat.Love Jill xx

MorningAJ said...

I love the call of the curlew. And I have some happy memories of the Pyewipe pub near Lincoln!

Robin Mac said...

We have several different types of curlew here in Australia, I love them all. We also have lapwings, commonly called plovers over here - I am not sure if they are the same as your lapwings in Britain. I hope your birds all arrive and nest successfully. cheers

Em Parkinson said...

I've seen swallows out on the moor, but not many and certainly non near the house. very depressing.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for the tip about going to Morecame Gwil! Still few swallows but the Tesco delivery man has just told me that temperatures are going to warm up by the weekend - so fingers crossed. Thanks for calling.

Dave King said...

I remember being introduced to lapwing and curlew when I was evacuated during the war (I was fascinated by the curlew), but alas I didn't keep the interest fresh and regret it now. Thanks for this.

Arija said...

Pat, by passing the story of your special day in Blackpool, it may live a little longer than you think for someone who reads your blog may remember it for a long time yet and, who knows, may pass it on to some younger generation as well.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I hope your swallows and house martins arrive soon! Plenty of both in Musselburgh.

I love the calls of the lapwings and curlews, very evocative

Loren said...

We don't have curlews locally, so I've never heard its call. One more thing to anticipate in my pursuit of new adventures.

Hadn't really given much thought to how I feel about bird calls except as a means of identifying birds I don't actually see.

In retrospect, the calls of the Belted Kingfisher and the Red-Shafted Flicker always make my day a little better.