Spring arrived a week ago with the curlews. It doesn’t get more official than that. Depending on whether you have heard this before it will either make you think your mobile phone is ringing – or it will give you goosebumps.
The curlews have come here to breed.
They have overwintered in the estuaries of Ireland, no doubt clacking their beaks together in synchronised dances, while reviving themselves through the winter storms with fabulously smooth Irish whiskey and now return to fill the valley to find birdlove – for they mate for life. They will rear their young in the same place where they were born themselves, so these birds are actually part of an ancient dynasty of Northumbrians with an penchant towards celtic wanderings.
The curlew’s cry is often described as “haunting” – but to know that it is actually a homecoming makes me think of something much warmer – it is the curlew’s bubbling, delighted elation in coming home. And perhaps in anticipation of the excitements of what happens next.
From a vantage point up at the lone pines, I could see pairs flowing around the foot of the hill.