On Tuesday I got up somewhat early, to arrive in Leicestershire for sunrise, where I met up with my friend James Burman. We planned to have a full day to locate, observe and film (or photograph in James’s case) his local Kingfishers, which frequent a river in the middle of a fairly busy town.
From Friday 18th to Sunday 20th I attended the 29th annual Birdfair – if you don’t know what that is and haven’t read my post from two years ago: click here!
Due to prior commitments I didn’t attended last year and this year I almost never went. If you remember my post about Birdfair two years ago, you may have worked out that this makes it my 6th year at this remarkable wildlife festival/convention! It has been a busy few months leading up to the fair, with my new conservation qualification – so it was somewhat a last minute decision to go. My three day e-tickets weren’t purchased until the beginning of the week! Missing another year would not sit right with me.
On the Friday I didn’t arrive until 2.30pm, happily receiving my yellow wristband, late, I know – which was due to finalising camping arrangements at Wing Hall. 😛 We never plan it, yet it always happens, every time I arrive the first person I bump into is Mike Dilger! Mike made me feel so welcome at my first ever Birdfair back in 2010 and he has been quite encouraging about my wildlife presenting career. For those that don’t know, I co-presented a 5 part series called The Wild Side on Cambridge TV. 🙂
Nowadays I have people to hold my coats / jackets for me. . . I’m kidding! 😉 Shortly afterwards, whilst making my way to Marquee 8, I saw my good friend and co-presenter, Jamie Wyver. 😀
Just as we were catching up and letting Gary know what to expect etc (as he had never been before), our friend Stephen Le Quesne plus our Twitter & Birdfair pals, Paula and Gail bumped into us! I had my picture taken with Stephen as we’ve not had one since 2011! (At the WWT London Wetland Centre!).
Mine and Stephen’s pals, Paula and Gail didn’t get in on the photo sadly. It was really nice seeing them since my absence! 🙂 Then it was off to Marquee 8, to pay a visit to the A Focus On Nature (AFON) stand to say hi and show my support for their new campaign Now for Nature, at the time the stand was manned by Ryan Clark and Andreas Fopp.
After a bit of a wander around the other marquees, I saw my first talk which was Brexit & the Environment: the way forward – chaired by Rob Lambert, it was really good. Everybody on the panel pretty much agreed with one another on the issues raised, and to summarise; they strongly believed that conservation NGOs have to work closely with farmers and DEFRA for a sustainable and environmentally friendly future. My sentiments exactly.
Before the fair I had came across some work by the Butterfly Brothers and saw that they were putting together the very first show garden at this years Birdfair, to go alongside their stand. So of course I had to pay them a visit. They were inundated with admirers and enquirers, understandably so. It was great meeting them and having a good old chin wag about wildlife gardening and how it is gradually becoming accepted as a ‘thing’ and how it’s fashionable now. It was fantastic to discover they won Best Stand in Show! 😀
Over the years, there has certainly been a shift in the way people garden, and this was very apparent at this year’s BBC Gardeners’ World Live. There were lots more naturalistic designs and wildlife-friendly show gardens, which is great inspiration to help people continue to think differently and take wildlife into consideration with their planting choices. For two years I have been advocating nature friendly gardening whilst I’m there and interviewing the garden designers, Editor of the magazine and the TV presenters. 🙂
You may not find my last photo of the day funny, but I do, it was taken at The Urban Birder stand (Marquee 8).
Just before I was leaving, I saw Lucy McRobert and it just seemed natural for us to embrace after a full on day, her’s more so than mine! ❤
The day before, I arrived late and broke with tradition – which is visiting and catching up with Kate MacRae first thing, on the Bushnell stand (before or after bumping into Mike, of course). So as soon as I arrived for day two, I sought out Wildlife Kate and we had our overdue catch up. I was hoping to get a photo with her, as like with Stephen, only one photo of us together existed. Before I could ask we noticed there were customers looking like they needed a hand, so like the professional Kate is, she went and helped them out and I left her to it. 🙂
Next stop was the Events Marquee to see Mike Dilger’s talk, So you want to be a wildlife presenter?! Everything he discussed I somewhat related to, and it was nice seeing clips from the packages he has done for the BBC’s The One Show – some of them I saw first on the show’s broadcasts. Sometime afterwards he and I had a wee catch up.
There were a few familiar faces in the audience. (Which you can’t see in the above photo). Megan and I had never met before, so I said hello to her after the talk and it was a must to get a picture together, wearing our fabulous animal themed clothing etc.
Gary and I wandered around the various marquees again, before it was my mate Jack Perks‘ talk – Freshwater Fishes of Britain, which honestly was very interesting! I had a wee catch up with Jack before hand. It was great seeing him and Josh Jaggard again, plus meeting Cain Scrimgeour. Straight after Jack’s talk, it was time for the annual A Focus On Nature (AFON) members photograph and the end of the day! Ben Eagle was kind enough to introduce himself to me after the photo was taken.
After the first two days, I needed a late start, so it was decided I wouldn’t arrive at the fair until a few minutes before a talk by the one and only Bill Oddie!
It isn’t just you, people often think the above is a family photo – as far as I know we’re not related, unfortunately. . . aha! It is Mr. Oddie who inspired me to get into wildlife film-making and presenting, with the various series he has presented, one of them being Springwatch. Bill Oddie is essentially the father of Springwatch, without him it would not exist today! Of course I love Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries, but it was Bill who felt more like an on screen grandfather to me, teaching me and maintaining my love of British wildlife. ❤
The last talk I saw was Simon King‘s and as ever, we heard about his recent wildlife film-making and he gave us a much needed reminder and awakening. In short, it was to get us to think about our shopping habits and how it is affecting the countryside – meaning our demand is influencing how the rural landscape is farmed, thus intensive farming is causing the loss of our wildlife through destruction of its habitat. Simon suggests we go back to eating seasonally and reduce the amount of dairy products we consume, this will lessen the pressure on farmers and in turn, the land!
I apologise for the quality of the photo, but you can just make out what the table is telling you.
“The Annual Rutland Romp!” ?? I’m referring to the British Birdwatching Fair, the Birdfair of course! 🙂 Last week was my 5th time at the fair (I’ve been going every year since 2010). It’s on for 3 days over a weekend in mid August, and has been on every year for more than 25 years! I love that it’s not just people from all over Britain visiting Rutland Water, but people from all over the world that migrate to England’s smallest county for this annual and eventful occasion too!
Over the years – despite its name – Birdfair has evolved to not just be about birds and aiding their conservation, but wildlife and conservation overall. I often refer to it as a wildlife festival before telling people the name of it. It is an amazing place to meet and be surrounded by like-minded passionate people, and rub shoulders with TV personalities 😉 There are talks from wildlife TV presenters, naturalists, conservationists and filmmakers, as well as authors and photographers too. I could only do two days of the fair and arrived on Saturday, with my wildlife photographer friend, James Burman – who has taken some stunning pictures. We camped at Rutland Water Camping, on the lovely Hambleton Peninsula – where we saw Foxes and a Badger 🙂
Chris Packham’s talk was brilliant – in short; it was about cutting the crap regarding what dangers children might face outdoors, and to let them experience and enjoy nature in all its glory! Chris featured three young wildlife enthusiasts, who in turn talked about their experiences and passion for nature, and what they have been up to. I realised they each represented a region of England: Josie Hewitt – The South, Connor Coombes – The North and Georgia Locock – The Midlands. All of their talks were very good, and insightful 🙂 I’m hoping this is a progressive change, as it’s really nice hearing from a diverse range of people on stage in the Events Marquee. Connor with his Cumbrian accent and Georgia with her West Midlands accent (similar to my own), I couldn’t help but be moved, it was refreshing and humbling!
In various other marquees you can find hundreds of stands selling and promoting the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts – gadgets and clothing, scopes to sculptures, binoculars to bird food and eGuides to eco-holidays! 😀 I mainly go to the festival to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and to share it all with them! ❤
Since my 2nd time, I have met up with my friend Christine Hall, a great wildlife camerawoman, photographer and conservationist. It’s possible you’ve seen her video of a Red Squirrel on a previous series of Autumnwatch, it was slipping down a post whilst trying to get peanuts from a bird-feeder, and you may have recently seen her in the Springwatch Unsprung audience 😉
It was really good meeting Yusuf Akhtar, Victoria House and a mixture of AFON and NGB members (to name a few); Alexandra Hoadley, Ryan Clark, Susan Jones, Josie Hewitt, James Common, Georgia Locock, Drew Lyness, Billy Stockwell, Sorrel Lyall, Tom Mason and James O’Neill. Plus it was really nice catching up with Peter Cooper, Jack Perks, Josh Jaggard and Matt Collis 🙂
Every year at the Bushnell stand I chat to WildlifeKate quite a lot, we came to realise we’ve never had a photo taken together, so the picture above is the only one ever for now 😛
Mike Dilger and I chat quite a lot too, this year he bumped into me – in the Art Marquee – James and I happened to be getting to know the illustrator of his new book, Darren Woodhead – a wonderful artist. Mike’s new book is being released next year!
Simon King’s talk this year – as well as hearing about his recent wildlife filmmaking – contained a much needed reminder; a bit more needs to be done to conserve the natural world. We were made aware that nature is losing places in the dictionary! Words like Snowdrop are being taken out and replaced with the likes of “selfie” and “blog”. So I was pleased that towards the end of his talk we were informed about the Simon King Wildlife Project, which is a new charity assisting in the prevention of the degradation of the natural world, globally. The project intends to safeguard habitats, reclaim land for nature and engage people with wild creatures and wild places, which in turn will help keep the natural world intact! 🙂
Before my entry comes to an end – wildlife I observed around the reserve: