Did you know that it’s almost time for Birdfair again?
Running from 18-20 August at Rutland Water, there are fascinating talks from wildlife experts, a wonderful food area catering for all tastes and children’s activities from stands like the RSPB and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. You can even take a special wildlife cruise on Rutland Water itself. As well as all this, there are a plethora of wildlife celebrities, doing talks, book signings and more.
To get you in the mood, we’ve managed to track down Bill Oddie for a special short story:
It is easy to imagine the residents of Rutland heaving many a sigh on the third weekend of every August.
“Grrr. It’s the flippin Birdfair again” chunters John - the local solicitor - as he follows the temporary detour to his home.
“It was originally called The British Birdwatching Fair, you know” says his pedantic wife, Janet.
People enjoying Birdfair.
“What?” said John incredulously “thousands of people all birdwatching together? I bet they don’t see much. How on earth do they drag it out for three days?”
“I imagine” said Janet “there must be other things as well as birds. There are several massive marquees. Perhaps they have circuses”
“They’re not allowed to have animals anymore.”
“Maybe they are bird circuses” suggested Janet.
“What? said John frivolously “Performing parrots, bouncing budgies, juggling jays. I bet they have a snowy owl like in the Harry Potter films.”
“It was a barn owl actually” said Janet pedantically.
“Actually, it was both.” retorted John. “In some shots it was a snowy, then in the next shot it was a barn.” “I must say, I do like owls” said John.
“I prefer ducks” said Janet.
“Well, there should be plenty of ducks. It is Rutland Water.”
“Mmm darling, you know in the evening when we see everyone leaving Birdfair?”
“Well have you noticed the people always look really really happy? Almost as if they have been to, well….a real fair. Darling, how long has it been running?”
“It feels like a hundred years.”
“And we have never ever been to it.”
“So?” said John nervously.
“Darling, shall we?” said Janet enticingly.
“Well, why not? Let’s follow the signs, and go on in.”
And so, it was that - for the first time in their lives - John and Janet spent a day at Birdfair.
In fact, they spent three days. The first surprise was that the marquees weren’t all full of birds. Well, not real ones. There were fantastic paintings of birds and delightful sculptures of hedgehogs and badgers amongst the wide range of wildlife art.” They spent over an hour in the art tent. Janet was enchanted, and John started looking for something special for her birthday. She absolutely fell in love with an exceptional bronze giraffe. John planned to go back later to order one.
Each day, they went back for more and enjoyed many great talks from wildlife experts on a wide range of subjects and met people from all over the world. On Sunday, they even brought their grandchildren along and went bug hunting and pond dipping. Just after lunch on Sunday, they realised that the fair would soon be closing. It was then that John began to panic. He hadn’t mentioned it to Janet, but he was beginning to be rather taken by this birdwatching lark. But he didn’t have any of the gear.
Family pond-dipping at Birdfair
Rushing from tent to tent and stall to stall, he purchased everything he needed, including an amazing pair of binoculars and a wonderful wildlife holiday.
As they were about to leave Janet asked John “shouldn’t we buy a bird book?” “Damn, I knew there was something we had forgotten.”
“Don’t worry” said Janet “you get the car and I will rush back and get one.”
A little while later she returned gleefully brandishing a small book with a very colourful cover. John seemed puzzled. “That doesn’t look much like a bird book!”
“That’s because it isn’t!” teased Janet. “Well, it is a bit, but there’s a lot more to it than birds. Rather like Birdfair eh?”
John and Janet laughed, and that night – when they were both reading the book in bed - they laughed again. And laughed…and laughed.
“You know” said John “when I first saw the cover I thought ‘This book looks really daft’ and it is!”
“Well” said Janet “it is by Bill Oddie.”
Bill Oddie will be signing copies of his new book, Tales of a Ludicrous Bird Gardener at 2pm on Saturday 19 August at the RSPB stand. Why not pop in and have a chat with him?
Buy your tickets
If you fancy giving Birdfair a try this year, you can buy your tickets from the Birdfair website.