I regularly receive notification from our State & National Government Departments providing the latest updated lists of our threatened and endangered wildlife and the latest ‘plan’ or ‘strategy’ being written to save them. But we know that words won’t save them and so the years pass by. Then it becomes too late, as now the populations are just too small to restore. It happens over and again.
However, there is still a local farming generation in the Mid-Loddon in Victoria, that remembers the night time calls of a flock of Bush Stone-curlews. And there is also an aging pair of birds which is helping to keep the memories alive. There was much sadness a few years ago when we thought we had lost them. They vanished following a prescribed burning of a section of the local forest we had been unable to stop, even though we had warned the burnoff would destroy one of our Curlews last local habitat strongholds.
It’s hard to imagine that one pair of birds could be so well known in a farming community. And much to everyone’s relief they were eventually found hiding in a quiet woodland about 10 kilometres away from their original home ground. But we missed the surprising encounters we had as we moved through the local paddocks and small woodlands and we missed hearing their eerie calls on moonlit nights.
Then came the night they decided it was safe to fly home, announcing their arrival with shrieking calls ringing through the still night air throughout the following week, and my phone kept ringing as community members excitedly reported that their much loved Curlews were not only still alive but had returned to their home range.
This remarkable pair of Curlews has been the catalyst for a group of community volunteers to work tirelessly for over ten years to restore their local habitat and provide them with safe predator proof nesting and roosting sites. And then we began the difficult and expensive journey of the captive breeding and release of a new flock of juvenile Curlews. All the time we worried if we would succeed with our aims before the deaths of our lonely and aging pair of birds.
We recently lost one of our hard working volunteers and their grave is marked by a Curlew sculpture.
But none of us can imagine allowing moonlit nights bereft of the much loved eerie Curlew calls to become the only legacy of the passing into history of yet another of our precious wildlife species.
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