Purely by accident, I happened upon a curlew’s nest this afternoon while changing crows around between my larsens. The hen bird got off silently almost at my feet, and there was the nest; naked and vulnerable on the open hill. Curlews are so dear that to see their eggs lying out in the open was like finding the crown jewels lying unattended on a Sauchiehall Street bench on a Friday night. I took a few photographs, marked the spot and determined to keep a very close eye on this nest’s progress, but I couldn’t help wincing and wringing my hands at how precarious it is. It is within sight of the trees where I found the empty grouse egg, and I suspect the vandal crows will not be long in finding such a collection of gems. I must see to it that they do not.
It is quite a good nest site, but the disadvantage of lining your nest with molinia ribbons is that the eggs now have a halo of white all around them. If they were resting directly on the moss and the blaeberry, they’d be far harder to see, but who am I to advise a curlew? The real give-away is the shininess of the eggs, which I could see glinting in the sun when I was still thirty yards away.
My “Shire Natural History” guide to curlews informs me that a clutch of 3 eggs usually means that the first (and more normal) clutch of 4 has been predated and that the 3 are the replacements. It could be that the first eggs were lost, so it is even more important that these eggs are not. We just need to get the chicks out of those shells and off into the long grass, where they will stand a decent chance of survival. Until then, I am on tenterhooks.