To the moon and back with the eastern curlew

The ascent is vertical. Up, up and into the jet stream. If the conditions are not right up there it will come back down and wait. But if there is a good tailwind in the right direction it will begin an epic journey that will take it around the curvature of the Earth; from the Arctic Circle to the southern hemisphere.

Using the sun and stars as a compass, and navigating by the Earth’s magnetic field, recognising landmarks, the far eastern curlew will fly nonstop to the Yellow Sea, where it fuels up on the mudflats of north-east China.

Then it will fly through days and nights across oceans to reach the Australian coastline, an exhausted wreck of a bird that is down to skin and bones. An endurance athlete of the animal kingdom, an aerodynamic wonder, a bird that flies 30,000km a year, flapping its wings all the way because it can’t or soar or glide, the eastern curlew is a phenomenon of the natural world. It is also critically endangered. It has lost 80% of its population in the past 30 years.

Like to know more? Read the full story on The Guardian website.

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