Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Birdfair 2011

We’ve been in the UK for a few weeks, escaping from the baking heat of the Algarve. Day after day with temperatures of 30° and higher are not to our taste! Not only are July and August the hottest months, they are also the most popular with tourists and so we have also been avoiding the crowds!

Another very important reason to be in the UK in August is the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water or simply Birdfair as we are encouraged to call it these days. We’ve just got back from this year’s event, having had, as always, an exhausting but most enjoyable weekend. For us this is definitely one of the highlights of the year, something we wouldn’t want to miss.

Osprey – a breeding bird at Rutland Water, but this was the only one we saw during the weekend!

Our main purpose in being at Birdfair is to promote Avian Adventures and the birdwatching tours that we lead for them. The brochure detailing their 2012 programme of tours has now been published and is available on their website. For us it includes six tours in Africa, three in the USA, two in Costa Rica and one in Cuba – it’s a good job there are two of us! And, of course, we’ve also been promoting the Algarve.

Marquee 3 - once again, our home for three days.

The Avian Adventures stand where Sering Bojang and Ray Tipper seem unimpressed by Neil Glenn’s fisherman’s tale.

Bonifence Byamukama from Uganda with one of his country’s Gorillas. He says they are closely related and we reckon we can see a likeness!

Just as good a reason to be at Birdfair is that we get to see so many old friends – people who have been on overseas tours with us, those who have been birding with us in Portugal, guides and ground operators from all around the world and lots more – all with a common interest in birds. It was a weekend of non-stop talk!

For the second year running Stuart Winter was launching a new book. The Birdman Abroad includes accounts of Avian Adventures with Peter in Arizona and The Gambia.

With more than 20,000 people now attending each year and a total of more than £2,000,000 raised to help save birds and their habitats in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, Birdfair continues to grow year on year. This year the chosen conservation project was Birdlife’s Flyway Campaign, one that just about every birder can identify with.

The Birdfair mural, a regular feature following the theme of the year’s chosen conservation project.

One migratory bird that has been getting lots of publicity recently is the Common Cuckoo. Five of these birds were caught in East Anglia back in the summer and fitted with satellite tags so that their movements can be tracked. “Our Cuckoo” (given the name Chris) is currently in southern Chad. You can follow the progress of all five birds via the BTO website.

Our visit to the BTO ringing demonstration coincided with the trapping of this Lesser Whitethroat.

Another well publicised bird at Birdfair was the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, one we have yet to see other than on television like this one.

Lots of fun to be had too!

Next year’s Birdfair will be on the 17th, 18th & 19th August – put it in your diary!

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