Has anyone been to the Birdfair 2018 this weekend at Rutland Water and would like to tell all of us on these forums what the weekend was like, as I’m unable to get to the Birdfair for various reasons?
Ian, Sorry you've had no replies. We went to Birdfair but everyone's view of it is different so I cannot speak for anyone else. I was told that Birdfair is the largest environmental fair in the world. While birds feature hugely, there are stands and talks about many aspects of the environment and about various other wildlife. The organisation is amazing in that everything runs on time, and there are volunteers everywhere doing all the jobs needed for such a vast enterprise to operate smoothly. Parking, too, is run very efficiently with volunteers. We've been to Birdfair a few times before but only for one day each time and after the first time when we walked through every marquee, we have since spent most of our time hearing talks, all of which were good. This year we went for all 3 days, partly because of volunteering at one of the stands over the lunch period. But it gave us time to hear more of the talks. Have you seen the website? Have a look at the site plan before scanning through the lists of talks and the lists of exhibitors. There was a main event marquee for major full length talks as well as for a few very popular partly serious/partly silly events--a quiz with naturalist celebrities and a panto (for two examples). There is a marquee for authors to talk about their books, there were 4 marquees for 20 minute talks, mostly given by birding tour firms showing us what can be seen in the places where they take tours. Scattered through the line ups of bird tour talks was a sprinkling of talks about nature reserves, bird charities, etc. and a few talks on photography. On one end of the site they had a bird ringing demonstration. There is a huge area for food stands but there are coffee and tea, etc., stands throughout the site and several areas with loos. In addition to an art marquee, there was one for (more or less) local food and produce, there were several for optical equipment companies (many offering Birdfair discounts), there were six marquees with stands for bird tour companies, outdoor clothing companies, bird food suppliers, bookstalls, publishers, wildlife charities and a few countries (Argentina, Columbia, etc.) and a small marquee for authors to sign their books (with a small photography exhibition on one end). One end of the art marquee held a huge canvas on which several artists were working, showing the wildlife and environment of this year's Birdlife International's project area which will benefit from most of the profits from this fair--the development of a national park in Argentina, Mar Chiquita, which has an important Flamingo population. There is an auction every year with items donated by many companies and individuals. Birdfair memorabilia--mugs, coasters, notebooks, pin badges, clothing, etc. were in a separate marquee. New this year was an area with children's activities and talks of interest to children, sponsored by Japan. The permanent building of the Anglian Water Bird Watching Centre is on one end of the Birdfair site with it's first floor 'hide' windows overlooking part of the Egleton end of the nature reserve and on the ground floor is a tiny shop plus a small exhibition, offices, meeting rooms, etc. Buying a ticket to Birdfair gives you free access to the nature reserve including the Lyndon centre on the south side of Rutland Water, from where you can walk to the hides nearest to the Manton Bay Osprey nest and see the Ospreys in person as well as enjoying other wildlife on the walk there and back. There are also short cruises (with naturalist celebrities so they book up quickly!) on the reservoir to see whatever wildlife is present. Apologies that this has become so long but here is this year's Birdfair website: https://birdfair.org.uk/