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Celebrate the whaap in Quarff

Sixty per cent of curlews have been lost across Scotland over the last two decades. Photo: Ian Francis/RSPB

A DAY of activities and live music is set to be held in Quarff on Saturday to celebrate the distinctive curlew.

The event is one of many which are being held as part of RSPB’s nationwide ‘curlew crisis month’ to raise awareness of the plight of the long-billed bird, which are known locally as whaaps.

The Whaap Spree will see free, family-friendly activities held at the Quarff Hall between 4pm and 7pm, including the launch of a curlew call ringtone and two whaap-themed knitting patterns.

There will also be a worm charming competition and wader-related craft and games, while information on land management and peatland restoration will be available alongside short guided walks.

In the evening the hall will play host to local band Beltane Ree and new Fleetwood Mac tribute act Chain Gang.

Shetland is a hotspot for curlews when they come to breed between April and July.

However, nearly 60 per cent of the birds in Scotland have been lost in the last two decades, and they have already disappeared in some parts of the UK.

Community engagement officer for RSPB Scotland and organiser of the Whaap Spree Karen MacKelvie 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.”

Tickets for the Whaap night are available via the Shetland Arts box office.