Experiencing Interruptions?

The Critically Endangered Eastern Curlew

In 2019 I provided these two videos, together with texts and photographs, to inspire artists and schoolchildren to make prints for the national ‘Overwintering’ project (on migratory shorebirds). This two-part film concerns the Eastern Curlew, the largest wader and from the most ancient lineages of waders.

The population of Eastern Curlews in Australia has declined by more than half, just in the last 25 years and Curlews are listed globally as threatened. Adult birds leave Australia late summer to breed in and round Siberia usually flying for three days continuously over 7,000 kilometres. Shore birds are in trouble, migrating through the archives is shocking, each year they find a different world, their sand and mudflat margins tarmacked or interred beneath concrete for rent or sale. Ravenous cities are terraforming. Global warming and rising sea levels are another threat.

"How do you know but that every bird that cleaves the aerial way is not an immense world of delight closed to your senses five?" - William Blake

The speed of modern life diminishes opportunities for attention and reflection, and affects how we think, perceive and feel. Slow down, look for a single curlew, each one is unique. In ‘Being a sandpiper’, Brandon Keim warns that environmental action often ignores ‘care for actual creatures in a nearby forest or your backyard . . . beings with their own inner lives and experiences . . .’ It’s a challenge, curlews are shy brown birds that keep their distance. This one is anonymous, but the more we get to know about an endangered animal or bird, the more we are likely to want to help it.

  • John Bennett
  • John Bennett
  • John Bennett
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  • Genres:
    nature, ecology
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 59 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 23, 2020
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Director Biography - John Bennett

I am a poet, published worldwide, who has won major poetry prizes. I write essays on environmental issues and my PhD explored ecopoetics. I am also a visual artist, one with text embedded in most of my work.

I am involved in the community give talks and readings locally including Coffs Harbour Regional Art Gallery. There I exhibited a multi-media presentation ‘First Light - from Eos to Helios’, from July, 2017. A documentary on this project, ‘Poetry at first light’ was broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Earshot, February, 2016.

Other screenings/exhibitions include: Biligan (commissioned), Bellingen TurtleFest, 2016; the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, Blackheath, Oct 2013; Matilda St Gallery, Macksville, Sept 2012; Balmain Watch House, Syndey, Oct 2011; Sydney Writers Festival, 2010; Newtown Underground Film Festival, Sydney, 2010; a multi-media installation, MacLeay Museum, University of Sydney, 2007.
Videos have also been published in the special 30th anniversary edition of Going Down Swinging; ekleksographia (USA); Poetry Australia and variously online.
My images are used by The Dept. of Primary Industries, News South Wales, National Parks and Wildlife Service, local councils, tourist authorities, festivals and schools.
I have been Artistic Director of the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival for five years

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Director Statement

I live in northern New South Wales by the sea in a beautiful sub-tropical region of rivers and forests. You would hardly know there was an environmental crisis surrounding us, apart from the recent bushfires.

These large birds with their long, curved bill and haunting call are ancient birds from an ancient lineage that may well become extinct on our watch. The population of all migratory shorebirds in Australia has declined drastically in the last 25 years. I have been pressuring local councils to protect our local estuaries.

Environmental educator Mitchell Thomashow suggests that attention to our immediate environment is best way to learn to appreciate the biosphere and become aware of the environmental crisis and our role in it. If we get to know nature better, we will come to respect and even work to conserve our natural environments.