RSPB Scotland is inviting Shetlanders to a special afternoon and evening to celebrate curlews on 12 May
The curlew, or whaap as it is known locally, will be celebrated on 12 May in Quarff Hall with an afternoon of birdsong, arts and crafts followed by a special evening of music.
This is one of a variety of events held in May across the UK as part of the RSPB’s Curlew Crisis Month, to raise awareness of the plight of the curlew, and build support for this familiar bird that is in trouble.
The afternoon’s activities, which run from 4 until 7 pm and are free, will see the launch of a curlew call ringtone and two knitting patterns – one for a specially-designed curlew hat and one for ‘Wendy the Whaap’. There are plans for a worm charming competition and wader-related craft and games in the hall too, while for those interested in learning about curlews and ways they can be helped, there will be information on land management and peatland restoration, and short guided walks.
Then in the evening, there will be live music with Shetland band Beltane Ree followed by the first live performance of local Fleetwood Mac tribute band, Chain Gang. Tickets for the “Whaap night” concert are available from Shetland Box Office.
The UK hosts around a quarter of the world's breeding curlews, but they are in rapid decline. In the last 20 years, nearly 60% of these birds in Scotland have been lost and they have already disappeared from other parts of the UK.
Shetland is one of the remaining hotspots and whaaps are still a common sight. They come back every spring to breed, between April and July. When they are here, they need a place to nest safely on the ground, in rough, wet and tussocky grasslands. They are also looking for worms, caterpillars and other invertebrates to feed themselves and their chicks. Curlews across the UK are struggling to raise chicks successfully and their success depends largely on farmers and crofters providing them with the right conditions to breed on their land.
Karen MacKelvie, Community Engagement Officer for RSPB Scotland and the organiser of the Whaap Spree said: “I’ve been inspired by the Faroese annual celebration of the return of the shalder (oystercatcher), marking the beginning of spring. Here the call of the whaap over the hills is the sound of spring. We can’t lose it. In my work with young people, I have noticed how unaware they are of the birds around them. I’d like families, grand-parents, crofters, everyone, to come along on 12 May and celebrate how special our long-legged, long-billed whaaps are.”
People wanting to help curlews can donate through the RSPB's curlew Just Giving page. All the money will go directly to fund habitat management work, specifically designed to meet the needs of curlews.
Last Updated: Tuesday 8 May 2018