Eastern Curlew

 Dandong mudholes

Dandong mudholes

Harry Saddler is the author of We Both Know: Ten Stories About Relationships (2005) and Small Moments (2007), a short novel about the aftermath of the Canberra bushfires of 2003, both published by Ginderra Press. Since 2008 he’s been writing and distributing weekly SMS stories and putting them on Twitter (@MondayStory). He writes about the ecological, physical, and philosophical interactions between humans and animals at his blog, Noticing Animals and was the joint winner of the 2014 Melbourne Writers Festival/Blurb ‘Blog-to-Book’ Challenge, resulting in the book Not Birdwatching: Reflections on Noticing Animals   In 2015 his piece Thought Experiment, examining questions of human and non-human consciousness, was shortlisted for the Lifted Brow Prize for Experimental Non-Fiction

Harry is currently writing a book on the Eastern Curlew to be published by Affirm Press in 2017. At the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne in 2016 he was part of a panel of Nature Writers who discussed the challenges and wonders of writing about nature.

Of his upcoming book he says:

The Eastern Curlew s not a famous bird, but it is pretty incredible and I think it's worth knowing about. Here's why:

Next time you're grocery shopping, pick up a 1 kilogram bag of flour. Imagine a bird that weighs exactly that much. Then imagine it, this bird that you could pick up and carry in just one hand, opening a pair of long, tapering wings and flying from the south coast of Australia, across the sea to Korea, then to China, then to Siberia. Imagine it doing that every year of its life. Then imagine it flying back every year, too. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth – 10,000 kilometres each way, so many times that by the end of its life this bird, this bird which weighs hardly anything, will have flown the equivalent of the distance from the earth to the moon.

That's the eastern curlew, and that's the story I want to tell. I think it's a story worth telling, and my publisher agrees: in 2017 Affirm Press, based in South Melbourne, are going to publish my book.

In April this year following a successful crowdfunding campaign, supported by generous friends and strangers, I visited China and South Korea. On their way to Siberia the Eastern Curlews stop off in South Korea and in China. How do people there respond to their arrival? Are they inspired? Do they tell stories about these birds? And what do they do to protect the curlews' habitat and make sure the curlews will keep flying for generations to come? These are some of the questions that I wanted to find the answers to, and which I am writing about in my book.