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The Slender-Billed Curlew, Numenius tenuirostris, 'the slim beak of the new moon', once bred in Siberia and wintered in the Mediterranean basin, passing through the wetlands and estuaries of Italy, Greece, the Balkans and Central Asia. Today, the Slender-Billed Curlew only exists as a rumour, a ghost species surrounded by unconfirmed sightings and speculation. The only certainty is that it now stands on the edge of extinction. Birds are key environmental indicators. Their health or hardship has a message for us about the planet, and our future. What does the fate of the Slender-Billed Curlew mean for us and the natural world? What happened to it, and why?
Orison for a Curlew journeys through a fractured Europe in search of the Slender-Billed Curlew, following the bird's migratory path on an odyssey that takes us into the lives of the men and women who have fought to save the landscapes to which the bird belongs. This is a story of beauty, triumph and the struggles of conservation. It is a homage to a creature that may never be seen again.
Horatio Clare is a journalist, radio producer and an acclaimed author, whose books include Truant, A Single Swallow, Down to the Sea in Ships and Running for the Hills, which was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award and won the Somerset Maugham Award.