I’m just back from a few days break in northern Inner Mongolia. Mid-June is a wonderful time to visit with all of the breeding birds, most of which are migratory, back on territory and singing vigorously. One of the species I was keen to see and hear was the Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis 大杓鹬 Dà biāo yù), a species now classified as “Endangered” due to its rapidly declining population (it is thought to have declined by up to 80% in Australia, one of its main non-breeding grounds). Incidentally, despite its scientific name, it has never been recorded in Madagascar.
After several failed attempts, I was finally in the right place at the right time when a presumed male engaged in a wonderful, undulating, display flight over a wet meadow. As the sun set on a perfectly still evening, the sound sent shivers down my spine as it pierced the backing vocals from, among others, Common Cuckoo, Oriental Cuckoo and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler. Simply magical.
Wouldn’t the world be a poorer place if we lost this awe-inspiring bird?