Films & Podcasts

Curlew Action has produced a number of films and podcasts to highlight our work and the crisis facing Curlew throughout the world.

Curlew Films

David Gray and Mary Colwell in Conversation

Mary Colwell and David Gray talk about curlews

The Story of Britain's Curlews - Winter

A short film with music and narration by David Gray

Mary Colwell on the GCSE in Natural History

Curlew Podcasts

Curlew Action celebrates and raises awareness of curlews worldwide. Please enjoy these short podcasts, which are produced and presented by Mary Colwell. They aim to bring different perspectives from leading conservationists, artists, writers and scientists about the Curlews of the world.

Eurasian Curlew

The Eurasian Curlew

In this podcast Geoff Hilton, Head of Conservation Evidence at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge, gives a personal and emotional interview on why he is so passionate about saving the Curlews of Britain, especially in lowland and southern Britain.

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Professor Ian Newton is a renowned ecologist. In this programme we talk about the enormous changes the British landscape has undergone since the beginning of the 20th Century and how that has affected ground-nesting birds like Curlew.

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Irish Curlew Crisis

Barry O'Donoghue runs the Irish Curlew Conservation Programme for the National Parks and Wildlife Service in Ireland. He has a tough job as recent surveys show a 97% decline in the last 40 years. There are now fewer than 150 pairs left.

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Galloway Curlews

Farmer, author and conservationist, Patrick Laurie was born in Galloway and now farms there. Over the last 40 years this hidden-away part of Scotland has lost 80% of its curlews. Patrick gives an impassioned plea for us to love and protect places like Galloway and the wildlife that once thrived there.

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Urban Curlews

Street artist, ATM (otherwise known as Mark Anthony) was commissioned to paint an emblem of an endangered species in Tower Hamlets in London - on a railway arch. The result is a stunning work that brings the wild into the very heart of the city. In this short interview he explains why he chose curlews and what they mean to him. Please excuse the poor quality of sound, it was recorded remotely.

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Far Eastern Curlew

The Eastern Curlew

Curlew Action CEO Mary Colwell interviews Harry Saddler, author of Eastern Curlew (Hachette UK, 31 Jul 2018). This large wader is highly endangered. It migrates from Australia to the sub arctic each year, but habitat loss and some hunting has reduced its population by 80% in the last 30 years.

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Far Eastern Curlews

The Far Eastern Curlew is a phenomenal bird. The bill of the female can be 20 cm long. It spends the winter in Australasia and breeds in the north of China and Russia, and there are threats all the along the flyway. It is now critically endangered. Amanda Lilleyman is a researcher at the Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia, and is part of a team working to save them from extinction. Sound recording - Albert Lastukhin, Xeno-Canto Photo @LucasBrook

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Slender-billed Curlew

The Slender-billed Curlew

The Slender-billed Curlew may now be a ghost in the landscape. Perhaps a few hang on - but they have not been seen for years. In this podcast, Mary Colwell talks to Horatio Clare, a writer who went in search of this tragic bird of the wild.

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Photographing the Slender-billed Curlew

The bird illustrating the podcast is of a Slender-billed Curlew. It is only one of a handful of photos known to exist. Shortly after Richard Porter took this,  the Slender-billed disappeared and is feared extinct. Richard told me about his poignant encounter.

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Eskimo Curlew

Eskimo Curlew Sighting

The Eskimo Curlew is considered extinct. The last confirmed sightings were in the 1960s in Texas. There are however occasional unconfirmed reports. I talked to David Blankinship who believes he and a colleague saw a group of 23 on a remote island off the coast of Texas in 1981. Music by Reg1n0ld on Freesound, reading performed by Martin White and the image is from a specimen in Laval University in Canada.

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

The Last of the Curlews

Mary Colwell in conversation with Donald Worster and Ursula Heise about the 1954 book 'The Last of the Curlews' by Fred Bodsworth.

Long-billed Curlew

Long-billed Curlew Crisis in Idaho

Heather Hayes works for the Intermountain Bird Observatory. Here she tells us about the extraordinary challenges she and the team face - shooting, illegal dumping of rubbish, people pressure ...

       (From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)


American Whimbrels

Brad Winn, a senior scientist with Manomet Centre for Conservation Sciences,takes us through the life and times of the whimbrel as it migrates across America. Shooting and habitat loss are big issues it faces every year. Thank you Andrew Johnson from the Cornell Lab for Ornithology for the calls.

(From the SoundCloud site of Mary Colwell.)

Bristle-thighed Curlew

Bristle-thighed Curlew

Bristle-thighed curlews are a mysterious, magical Curlew that breeds in remote parts of Alaska and then flies to the coral atolls in the middle of the Pacific. Their call is a delightful, wobbly fluting sound. Here is Lee Tibbitts, Wildlife Biologist with USGS, Alaska Science Centre in Anchorage, Alaska
Calls courtesy of Xeno-Canto. Photo by Otto Plantema

(From the 'SoundCloud' site of Mary Colwell.)

Interviews With Mary Colwell

From the site Sean's Wildlife hosted by Sean McCormack:

Mary Colwell is a woman on a mission: to save one of our most iconic native wading birds from extinction, the Curlew. A bird of wild, windswept landscapes, its evocative call and willowy appearance has inspired poetry, music and wonder in many.

Here, Mary and Sean McCormack chat about what can be done to save the Curlew, and the difficult conversations that need to be had with various stakeholders when it comes to practical nature conservation.


From the War on Wildlife Project:

In 2016 naturalist and broadcaster Mary Colwell walked 500 miles across Ireland, northern Wales, and England to raise awareness of how the once common Common Curlew Numenius arquata was disappearing from the countryside. As she wrote at the time, ” I undertook this walk alone and unpaid. I am passionate about saving these birds.”

In the years that have followed, Mary has written a book about her travels (Curlew Moon), won the WWT Marsh Award for Wetland Conservation, launched a charity (Curlew Action), and launched a Crowdfunder to help her create a Curlew Fieldworker Toolkit which met its target just days before Charlie Moores went across to Bristol to talk with Mary for this interview.

From the War on Wildlife Project:

Many of us with an interest in the natural world have known for years that children and young people are spending less and less time outdoors. Losing their connection with nature. A recent survey suggested that many children can’t identify common garden flowers. Half couldn’t identify arguably the UK’s most distinctive bird – the Kingfisher. A fifth of young people can’t identify a badger (despite one featuring in the badge of Harry Potter’s very own Hufflepuff House).

Many of us have known for years that basic natural history knowledge is draining away, but few of us have done anything about it. But then, few of us are Mary Colwell.


From the SoundCloud site of Conservation Sound:

I started getting emails at the day job about World Curlew Day. It had a lovely logo. Curlews have such a distinctive call, the potential for a podcast rose gradually across the office Outlook screen. The emails came from Mary Colwell, and her website revealed her to be a very experienced broadcaster. Podcast tip: interview a radio producer, they know what makes a good interviewee!

This episode includes audio from Xeno-Canto, (which probably should be an episode in its own right); in this case, it’s XC344313 by Patrik Åberg, released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0, and that means that this episode is covered by the same licence too.

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