On Friday I went to the British Birdfair for the first time. I have wanted to go for a couple of years now but have always been busy or unable to persuade someone to take me. Thankfully this year Ann (@AnnRSPBNBucks) kindly took me. By next year I will be able to drive and can hopefully return the favour. I left the house at 5:30am which meant that we arrived exactly in time to get into the birdfair when it opened at 9am.
The highlight from the Birdfair for me was the people I met. Many of which I have spoken to on twitter for a long time but have never met in person. Fairly early on I met Liz Shaw and Ed Drewitt. Liz is a fellow Garden Bioblitz team member and we must have corresponded hundreds of times by email sorting things out for the Bioblitz. Ed is Liz’s fiance and is a real wildlife expert, especially on peregrine falcons and it was lovely to speak to him about my local peregrines. I couldn’t think of a nicer couple and it was great to meet them both! I also spoke to Andy Musgrove, head of Monitoring at the BTO. Andy has helped and inspired me a great deal with regards to expanding my knowledge into taxonomic groups that I wouldn’t usually try identify. Andy himself has seen over 3000 species in Britain and always amazes me with his knowledge and enthusiasm. I also visited the Bushnell stand where I met Kate MacRae and Gareth Jones. These two people have used trail cameras to discover some fascinating behavior about their local wildlife that we couldn’t observe without the trail cameras, if only I could justify buying one! Another person I spoke to was Tristan Reid. Tristan takes putting yourself out there to aid conservation to the next level, not only is he covered in wildlife tattoos to aid conservation but he is also running 1000 miles (including 14 marathons!) this year in order to raise money for Operation Turtle Dove, what an inspiration man. The last person I met that I have spoken to on twitter before was Brian Eversham. Brian is the Chief Executive for the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire but more importantly he is a superb naturalist and wildlife enthusiast. Brian has been really helpful in encouraging my interest in wildlife where he can by helping me identify species so it was nice to thank him in person.
I also saw some important people / celebrities around the Birdfair including Simon King, Bill Oddie, Jonathan Scott, Johnny Kingdom, David Lindo, Steven Moss and Mark Avery. One of the moments that will always stick in my mind is meeting Chris Packham at a book signing. The thing I really love about Chris is the fact that he is not a wildlife presenter, he is a conservationist at heart who uses his public profile to aid conservation. I didn’t know what to say to him (what do you say to your hero when you meet them?) so I just thanked him for his hard work and reminded him of how many people he has inspired. Many people then mentioned that he is always at events and meeting him isn’t that special but it certainly was a special moment for me!
I also met Lucy McRobert and Beth Aucott, these two ladies are not only great conservationists in their own right but also part of the team that runs A Focus on Nature, the Network for Young Nature Conservationists in the UK. This scheme helps encourage young conservationists in the UK and has helped me greatly so far, after all my binoculars came from them. Seeing the AFON representatives at Birdfair really brought home the wonderful things that are going on to help encourage young conservationists, after all we are the future. I hope to take advantage of this scheme in the future and see what I can offer to help others.
Apart from meeting people I also went on a walk with Alan Stubbs from Buglife which was great to sponge off his knowledge and see a proper entomologist at work. There was also over 500 exhibitors at Birdfair and I had a good look around and managed to learn lots more about conservation and also managed to buy a fair few books (Oops, I just can’t help myself 🙂 )
Overall I’m very glad I went to the Birdfair and am thankful to Ann for the lift. I look forward to going again in the future!