Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Rutland Bird Fair 2015

Already two thirds of the way through August and that can only mean one thing......Bird Fair :) I was hoping to blog after each day while in the hotel but was just too exhausted from the walking and talking so apologies for this being another long blog with all 3 days included.

  Friday morning we arrived at around 8.30am excited and ready to wander around the many stands in 10 different marquees.One of the first things we do each year is head over to the optics marquee to first cry over the Swarovski Optics, then have our annual chat with Jonathan Scott.Always a great guy to talk to.
  Jonathan doing his lecture the next day.

On the way back through the marquees we came across Simon King talking about his nuts ;)
He was showing the different ways Hazelnuts are eaten by various mammals like Squirrels, Voles & Mice.

 The first lecture we watched was David Lindo(The Urban Birder) talking about his new book.

  This was followed by legend Bill Oddie talking about anything as he didn't realise he had a talk to do lol I then bought his new book and asked him to sign it for us.

One of the main lectures I wanted to see was by Mark Carwardine on his love for Whales and all Ceteceans.Afterwards he was kind enough to sign one of his books for my nephew who is very interested in Marine Life.

  Another quick wander round the marquees and we had a fantastic talk with Caroline from BirdLife Malta with whom we joined last year.We talked a few times over the 3 days about the illegal hunting on Malta and the amazing work the people over there are doing.I ended up wearing their t-shirt and giving out cards for people to fill in and send to their MEP to get the EU to act against the Maltese Government to save our birds.

  This was followed by another serious lecture in the Events Marquee in association with League Against Cruel Sports with Bill Oddie, Ceri Levy and Dr. Toni Shephard telling us about the horrific killing of millions of birds in the Mediterranean and also in the UK.
 Ceri Levy
 Dr. Toni Shephard

  The shocking number of birds killed each year in the UK:( They also talked about the effect the 50 million game birds released each year have on our habitats and other wildlife.

  The first day ended with a more light-hearted lecture about best birding days.Bill Oddie, Ian Wallace, Lucy McRobert & Adam Rowlands each talked about their own best birding day and then had the audience vote on the best.
  Ian Wallace had a resounding victory after his amazing, entertaining speech and we got to see him afterwards whilst having free beer :)

  Day 2 and the main talk was with Chris Packham and a trio of young Birders, Scientists, Conservationists.Three very mature youngsters far braver than I am to do public speaking.All three doing an immense job.
Chris Packham.
 Josie Hewitt.
 Conor McCombe
 Georgia Locock

  Straight after this we had to rush across to Marquee 3 to see Mark Avery & Charlie Moores talking about Birders Against Wildlife Crime(BAWC).We caught up with the Bawc team(Charlie Moores, Lawrie Phipps & Phil Walton) numerous times during the Bird Fair, always great to see them and to try and support the amazing work they have done.
With Charlie.

  A quick run into the next doors Marquee 1 to see Tormod show us more about Varanger in Arctic Norway.Another great guy to talk too and hopefully we can get up to Varanger soon.We finally managed to meet up with a friend, Sara Frost who we hadn't seen since she took us out on a boat on the West coast of Scotland.
  We then saw Bird Brain Of Britain hosted by , yes that man again, Bill Oddie before heading over to the Authors Forum to listen to Mark Avery, Keith Betton, Ian Wallace and Debbie Pain talk about their collaboration on Behind The Binoculars.We also met Alan Davies & Ruth Miller(authors of The Biggest Twitch) afterwards too.
  A 15 minute drive back to Travelodge to collapse exhausted onto the bed before going back out for a meal at the nearby Little Chef.

  It seemed to have got to Day 3 of Bird Fair far too quickly:( but we were up earlier and arrived before 7.30am to get in a bit of bird watching from the hides before the event opened for the final day.
  A Wood Sandpiper was the highlight along with views of Green Sandpipers, Egyptian Geese and an Osprey.

There is an Osprey in this photo, honest :)

  We seemed to spend the last day mainly in the Events marquee but with quick trips out to various stands in between.More visits to Birding For All to meet the fantastic Phil Gatley, BirdLife Malta, BAWC, Islay(always good for free whisky;)), Hawk & Owl Trust, Biotope, and Hawke Optics(to get my first scope that cost more than £30).

  In the Events Marquee we again listened to Jonathan Scott explaining photography before introducing his wonderful wife Angie.This was followed by probably one of the most entertaining talks of the weekend by Martin Hughes-Games.It was his first Bird Fair and hopefully he will be back as he was great to talk too and while there Wild Sounds told us his book had become their biggest ever seller at Bird Fair, even beating Sir David Attenboroughs last visit.

  His lecture was followed by the Bird Fair's first ever Birdless Pointbrain(Tv's Pointless with Birders) chaired by Nigel Redman & Neil Glenn.Stephen Moss, Nick Baker, Mike Dilger & Martin joined in the fun along with a few Bird Fair volunteers.

  After listening to Martin's talk I decided I should go buy his new book so off we went to the Wild Sounds stand.Martin was joined by Nick, Mike & David Lindo at the signing table.

  After getting Martin to sign his book for us we went to talk to Mike about the Spurn Migration Festival that is coming up in 2 weeks time.He then signed our programme before doing his own artwork on Nick's profile photo.I then went to see Nick who signed his own photo before adding his own artistic touches to Mike's photo.:) Just looking at this pic and only now have noticed that it says Bird Fair 2014 on the bottom lol Guess they forgot to change the year on every page.

  The final event we attended, which turned out to be the funniest thing I've seen for a long time was the Bird Fair's rendition of "The Gruffalo"
  It starred Mike Dilger as Mouse, Nick Baker as Snake, Dominic Couzens as Owl, Rob Lambert as Fox and Bill Oddie as The Gruffalo, all narrated by Squirrel, Lucy McRobert.They all looked to be having as much fun doing the play as we had watching it.

  A hilarious end to our Bird Fair and another fantastic 3 days of lectures and meeting friends.Thanks to everyone who helped make it so enjoyable.I will probably miss some people off that we talked to but here are a few.
  Sara Frost, Charlie Moores, Phil Walton, Lawrie Phipps, Paul Cowley, Mark Avery, Nicola Main, Andrew Glaysher, Hawys Wynne, Karen Elizabeth, Georgia Locock, Phil Gatley, Caroline(BirdLifeMalta), Tormod Amundsen, Alan Davies, Ruth Miller, Ian Wallace, Mike Dilger, Martin Hughes-Games, Mark Carwardine, Nick Baker & Bill Oddie.
  Thanks to you all:)

  Only 358 days to Bird Fair 2016 ;)

  A few important websites you should take the time to check out:) Thanks


 Thanks for putting up with the very long blog, would've been shorter to write a book ;)


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Justice for our Hen Harriers - Hen Harrier Weekend Aug 2015

  Hi all, I nearly decided to not write this blogpost as there are some fantastic blogs on the weekends events already available online from other people but then I thought the more blogs there are, the more people will read about how our protected Birds Of Prey are facing extinction in England due to illegal persecution.
  Our own journey at the weekend began at 4.15am in Newry, Northern Ireland, leaving to catch the 5am bus to Dublin for our flight to East Midlands Airport.
  Newry at 5am.Taken from the bus station.

  Then a 90 minute drive North-West to get to the B&B in Buxton.When checking in the owner asked of our plans for the weekend so we told her about Hen Harrier Day.Her first question was "What is a Hen Harrier?"We told her, and about the current situation the birds face.She couldn't believe that we have these stunning Raptors that people are intentionally killing.
  This is the problem.Not enough people know of the Hen Harrier and even less know of its possible extinction from England due to illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning.

  This is what Hen Harrier Weekend is for, to raise awareness of the plight of our Skydancing Harriers and ask for justice against all the criminal activity that is robbing us of our Natural Heritage.

  The first part of the weekend was an evening of lectures in Buxton.The evening began with Mark Avery, conservationist, organiser of this great event and Author of books "A Message from Martha" and new book "Inglorious" about the conflicts on the Grouse Moors.(link at the end to buy his book)

  Next up was Amanda Miller of the RSPB talking about what they are now doing to help support the campaign and then showed us the RSPB Skydancing video, along with a few words from Chief Exec. Mike Clarke.

  Author/Birder Mark Cocker had an entertaining on stage conversation with Turner Prize winner artist Jeremy Deller famed for his artwork depicting a Hen Harrier carrying off a blood red Landrover.

  Afterwards I was lucky enough to be able to get a signed stamp of the above artwork from Jeremy.

  Young Naturalist and Conservationist Findlay Wilde then took us through the hard work of his building of the latest stage props, the Grouse Butt, trap and Poison bottle and his success in getting Ecotricity to cover the costs of tagging Hen Harriers in 2016:)

  To end the talks , Chris Packham(needs no introduction) gave another passionate rousing speech about our Hen Harriers, the environment, the criminals responsible for the missing Bowland Male Harriers and the effects of the murder of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

  The bar remained open after the talks so time for a drink and chat with like-minded people who are furious with whats happening in our uplands and want to save our Hen Harriers.It was great to chat to Phil Walton, Chris Packham, Mark Avery, Stewart Abbott and of course Henry the Hen Harrier.

  Sunday was the Official Hen Harrier Day 2015 with 7 different events taking place around the country from Northumberland to Dorset.We were up and walking down the stunning Goyt Valley before 9am.People were already starting to gather in time for the talks at 11am.

  Charlie Moores of Birders Against Wildlife Crime and organiser of the day opened proceedings with a heartfelt talk.

  Jo Smith, Chief Exec of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust then gave a great speech on what they are doing to stop this illegal persecution and bring back Hen Harriers to the uplands.

  Next to speak was Jeff Knott, another star of the RSPB who spoke of the days when there was no hope but now he once again has hope we can save our Harriers due to the support for Hen Harrier Day.

  Mark Avery then spoke quickly about his book "Inglorious" and about how criminals are killing our protected birds without any consequences for them.

  Chris Packham once again ended proceedings explaining how Driven Grouse Shooting is causing so much damage to our environment.The Landowners who are supposedly looking after our uplands are instead destroying the whole ecology of the upland community through burning, poisoning and the killing of the top predator, the Hen Harriers.All this equates to increased Global Warming, poisoning of our water supplies(causing bills to increase) and more frequent flooding.A totally unsustainable ecosystem.

  With the Hen Harrier Thunderclap going out to over 5.5 million people and 6 other Hen Harrier Day events around the country, more and more people are becoming aware of the criminal atrocities that our happening in our uplands.After seeing the facts for themselves hopefully they too will want justice and to put an end to the illegal persecution of our Natural treasures.
 Meeting Chris again after the talks.

  We Will Win!! and then our Hen Harriers won't be missing anymore:)

 Thank you to Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Mark Avery for all their hard work in getting this event together.Also thanks to the Derbyshire Wildlife trust for all their hard work in supporting this campaign.

  Thanks for reading, and apologies for this pretty long blog but it is a very important problem that needs solving before it is too late and these magnificent birds become just a memory in England.

Things you can do to help.
Educate yourselves.

Follow BAWC on Facebook, Twitter and check out their website for latest news.

Buy Mark Avery's book "Inglorious"

Sign the petition to stop Driven Grouse Shooting.Now past 11,000 signatures.

Listen to the Podcast with Charlie Moores & Chris Packham(and Itchy & Scratchy) about the injustice of Wildlife Crime.

Buy the new Hen Harrier Bath Bombs from Lush Cosmetics to help fund tracking of these extremely important birds.

Thank you all again for reading this blog and Please do anything you can to help.

Stuart :)