Last weekend was the 30th annual Birdfair at Rutland Water – for those who aren’t familiar with it, the event is over 3 days and consists of talks on birds & wildlife plus numerous marquees filled with stands covering everything from holiday destinations to insect repellent. Basically if it relates to birding, it will be there!
This was the second year I’d attended the full 3 days and also volunteered - the fair runs with the help of a team of over 200 volunteers! On Friday I helped as an usher in a lecture marquee and on Saturday I was on one of the entry gates. It’s a great way to meet people and really feel like you’re getting involved.
Birdfair is brilliant for catching up with people you don’t see very often, whether they live at the other end of the country or abroad and it’s very much an international affair - round our dinner table on Friday night were 4 English, 2 South Africans, 1 Welsh, 1 Ecuadorian and 1 Australian!
I didn’t manage to get to too many of the talks but I did attend my good friend Ruth Miller’s talk about women in birding. It was a really insightful look into the role women have played in birding throughout history (who knew that it was a woman who painted the plants for John James Audubon’s illustrations!) and the role we can play in the future. A whopping 171 people attended her talk (nearly double the number who attended a well-known celebrity’s talk beforehand!) and it was nice to see there was a healthy mix of men & women.
I did a lot of shopping over the weekend and ended up with an impressive haul of goodies including a limited edition Chris Rose print and 2 signed Richard Lewington prints.
On a more serious note, the fair was created to raise money for various conservation projects round the world. The proceeds of this year’s Birdfair will support the creation of Argentina’s largest national park, in the process providing a refuge for nearly a million flamingos and shorebirds – let’s hope the total amount raised can make a real difference!!