Monday, 11 June 2018

Bolton Castle Curlew Festival.


The weather was almost perfect and the birds were on good form. 
A calling Curlew overlooking Wensleydale

An individually colour ringed Curlew chick.




Many Eurasian Curlews, European Golden Plovers and Northern Lapwings were seen with chicks during the moorland curlew and photography safaris as well as on other walks to look at different wildlife on the estate.

The Curlew Festival at Bolton Castle celebrates the strong local curlew population and raises awareness about the problems curlews and other waders are facing everywhere.
Bolton Castle seemingly dwarfed under the moors
with vibrant hay meadows in the valley.

The good weather brought a good number of visitors to the castle many of whom enjoyed viewing the Society of Wild Life Artists exhibition of artworks on display organised by Fiona Clucas. There were different genres of art exhibited from lino and wood cuts through charcoal to paintings in various media.
Part of the art exhibition during the introductory
talk by Tom Orde-Powlett

Fiona also supervised a mural painted by visiting children (and some adults) depicting the moorland an its birds. This proved popular with the kids that passed through the Great Chamber.

Another of the main organisers was Karen Lloyd who is working to protect Curlews in Cumbria with Fiona. She is a poet and writer who recently published Curlew Calling, an illustrated anthology of poems and writing about curlews. Karen organised an evening in the moorland lunch hut which included singing (in English and Icelandic!) led by Mary Kieth, poetry and book reading and music from Peter and Liz Cowdrey of Planet Birdsong.

For those with a musical bent at the castle
Fiona with one of her little helpers
there was an opportunity to imitate a Curlew song provided by Peter & Liz. The sound of a curlew calling was slowed down 8x and then people were recorded imitating those slowed down sounds. The result was then accelerated 8x and the similarity to the curlew's call was quite striking in most cases. Some of us however were less successful than others. It seemed to us that female voices were more suited to the tone and pitch as the best two were a visitor with no connection to the curlews whatsoever and none other than Mary Colwell, author of the
Excellent artwork in progress
excellent Curlew Moon, which was rather fitting. Elis got a fit of the giggles in her effort the result sounded more like a distressed pygmy shrew than a curlew.

Mary Colwell led a Curlew Art and Writing Workshop with Karen, discussing not just these topics but curlews and their conservation in general. This was greatly enjoyed by all who took part.

There were two static display stands in the Great Hall with the art exbibition, Wader Quest being one and the Yorkshire Dales
Details being added
Moorland Group being the other.

On Saturday afternoon talks were organised in the Great Chamber with refreshments in the form of sandwiches and cakes provided. 

There were eight talks in all kicked of by Rick Simpson talking about the conservation situation with the various curlew species around the world, the talk was entitled New Moon on the Wane - The Curse of the Curlews.

Robin Ward discussed the ringing and
Attendees at the lunch hut evening
colour ringing of the curlews on the Bolton Estate moorland and encouraged everyone to keep an eye out for these birds and report any sightings.

Kirsty Brannan of the RSPB spoke about her experiences with monitoring curlews in the Upper Thames region and working with farmers to help conserve those curlews which remain there still in a talk entitled Seasons amongst the curlew - helping farmers conserve birds in the Upper Thames.

Tara Challoner of the Yorkshire Wildlife
Karen reads one of her poems
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust gave us a wonderful overview of the work she has carried out with the Nidderdale AONB Curlew and Wader project.

Andy Heath is an independent predator control contractor and talked about this as a conservation tool. He made a very strong point that we have been carrying out predator control for thousands of years which has created the environments that we now seek to preserve. 

Rick Simpson kicks off the talks
Philip Merricks runs the Elmley NNR in Kent and has been doing so with a view to improve wader populations. The title of his talk  speaks for itself Successful Wader Conservation in lowland England and Lessons Learned his parting shot was that the time for study is over. If we want to preserve these birds in their habitats, we need act now.

Mark Wilson of the BTO spoke on Understanding Predation, Working for Waders and The Wensleydale Project

Mary Colwell closed the talks by summing up the situation with curlews and their conservation reiterating that the time for action is now. We have a chance to save the curlews and we should take it.

The whole event was filmed with the intention of making a short film of the event in due course which we look forward to seeing.

Huge thanks are due to Tom Orde-Powlett for organising this event with the others mentioned above and hosting it again this year. His kindness, generosity and enthusiasm together with his boundless energy over the weekend ensured all ran smoothly and everyone got the most they could from the event. 

We would most particularly like to thank Tom for supporting our attendance at the event. 

Sunset over the moor

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