I Curlew

Dawn. It has been a cold night here on our little island in the marshes. Here we can sleep safe from the animals, the rufus and brown, the teeth and claws and the cracking of bones and scattering of feathers. Safe from all the animals but one: the big brown one that lives in the water, but he eats fish. Some say there is another, black and terrible, but I have not seen one here. 

There is a brown human square box thing with dark patches, and something moves inside it, but whatever moves inside it does not look like humans. They make noises. The water birds swim around, heads in the water, searching for food. The little diver dives again and again and I can see where he is swimming from all the bubbles. The big grey fisher bird is here too, slowly flapping in and standing stiff by the water.

Something catches his eye and he wades out into the water, but it’s nothing and he wades back again.

She pretends to sleep, my mate there with her head under her wing. I see the eye open and close again.

Ah, my little friend the fisher bird with his gaudy colours is here. The creatures in the box point round black things at him. There are clicks.

The little brown stripy birds are hiding in the dead reeds by the fat quacker. One of them has flapped over to our island.

The light is good now and my stomach is empty. There is no food for us at the island, but all around are big patches of wet mud full of Curlew food. I call out. “Weeper loo loo loo”, stretch my wings and fly over the brown square thing. She follows. We come here every winter, and in the spring we fly inland to our nest site on the moors. There is something wrong with our patch. Every year she lays eggs, but the animals find us, the big black birds find us, the big red birds too and they all eat our babies. The grass is too short now to hide in.  The big white animals eat it all. Every year there are more of them and with them come the big killer birds. Peck peck  and the egg is broken open. They suck up what they can, but most of it is left to die. One year we had three chicks but the animals and the birds took them all.

Every winter there are less of  us locals at the mud. Most of those with us are foreigners. They fly in from the cold places in the north to eat and roost with us. It’s good to have them round us. It gets lonely in Spring when they all fly away.

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