BirdFair, Rutland 2014

Bird Fair at Rutland has to be one of my favourite shows of the year, as it is really a quite unique experience! Rarely do you get such a huge gathering of wildlife enthusiasts together in one place for a weekend and it is definitely a recipe for great wildlife experiences, talks and products of course! It is also a wonderful opportunity for catch-ups with old wildlife friends and meetings with new!

As of last year, I was on the Bushnell Stand in the Optics Marquee. As part of my role as the UK Brand Ambassador, I designed and built the stand, along with the team, to showcase the very best of the Bushnell ranges. As trail cams are the kit I use most, my stand design aimed to show the many contexts that these rather addictive pieces of kit can be used in.

The stand is split into two sections in the marquee, with a walkway  in the middle. I designed half the stand to be a garden set-up, with the other side depicting a woodland. These are the areas that I feel most people use trail cams. I love creating stands and there is months of planning and searching for products that will help me create the scene I have in my mind! My garage port was full of show stuff and on the Wednesday morning, I loaded the hire van up and even managed to squeeze in two trees, thanks to G-Scapes, in Lichfield, the wonderful local nursery who support me with loan of great plants and materials for the shows I undertake.

Arriving at BirdFair on the Wednesday, there is  a buzz of anticipation as lorries, forklifts and people heave boxes and stand materials into place. Luckily, the weather was quite kind and the sun was shining and the ground was not too wet. Andy, the stand builder had built the main structure of the stand and it was then up to me to put all my plans into action and create the vision I had had in my mind for the last six months!

It is always exciting, starting with a blank canvas and gradually putting all the parts into place. I started by unloading all the kit out of the van … it always looks like I have brought way too much, but it soon starts to fit into place….P1060412

I started with the woodland area, using some Birch stumps that Rob at SilverTrees had kindly made up for me. We had also collected lots of woodland debris to add to this section to make it look authentic. I had bought some Silver Birch wallpaper that had been put on boards for behind this section…

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It is rather like building a stage set! Once all the materials and ferns were in place, it was time for some characters! I had searched the Internet for some natural looking animals and had found some great resin creatures that added the final touch to the scene…

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I mounted trail cams on the stumps, along with information. I was really pleased with the final effect, so moved on to build my garden! I had brought some artificial turf, plants, feeders, bird table, nest boxes and some great new product from CJWildlife that will then be trailed back in my patch at home. I started by creating a pool out of tyres… like Fern Pool I have here at home, along with a hedgehog house from Ark Wildlife and log piles. All of this could easily be created in your own garden!

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It took me the rest of Thursday to create the garden area, plant it and arrange everything…

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By the end of Thursday, I was finally happy with what we had created and the rest of the team had sorted all the stock and the displays of the Bushnell products… we were ready to go! This year, Gareth Jones also joined the Bushnell team and his experience with trail cams meant he was a great asset to our team!

Staying at Spanhoe Lodge nearby (thoroughly recommended!!) meant that we were easily able to get to the show each morning before the doors opened and I love this quiet time before the show. There is a last minute flurry of activity as stand holders prepare for the day ahead and a feeling of excitement as we prepare for the day’s visitors! 

P1060457 P1060455Simon King and I were also excited to announce that there will be a big new Bushnell competition launched in September for all you Bushnell Trail cam users out there! We will be announcing the details on our websites very soon. We will be looking for the best Bushnell video clips or stills, of British wildlife that you have captured. There will be some great prizes to be announced as the competition launches in September. Simon will be judging the adult category and I will be judging the under 18s category. I am very much looking forward to seeing some of the great captures :o)

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We had an absolutely wonderful show and it was truly lovely to meet so many enthusiastic wildlife people! I was especially pleased to meet lots of young naturalists, many who came to see me and show me some of their great blogs, websites, photography and trail cam clips! As you know, I am very keen to encourage the next generation in their wildlife pursuits and I always love hearing about what they are up to. There seem to be so  any more wonderful opportunities available to the youth of today and the Internet has meant that they are able to meet and network in a way that was never possible when I was a child.

The only problem being on a stand is that I was not really able to get out and visit many of the other great stands or listen to the talks which looked incredible this year. 

Thank you to the fantastic Bushnell team and to all the amazing people who came to see me and talk to me… it is what makes this show so special! Roll on BirdFair 2015…. I am already planning the stand… 

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Mike Dilger and I in the Bushnell Garden!

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