Every year an area on the shores of Rutland water is transformed into the ‘Glastonbury’ for wildlife watchers…. The British Birdwatching Fair, better known simply as ‘BirdFair’! It is not only birds though….you will find all sorts of events, talks and stand to do with wildlife watching here in the UK and all over the world!
‘Birdfair encompasses the whole spectrum of the birdwatching industry whilst at the same time supporting global bird conservation. This is the event of the year if you’re into birds and wildlife. A wide range of fantastic conservation projects have been supported by Birdfair.
There are hundreds of stands selling the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts. You’ll find everything, from scopes to sculptures, binoculars to bird food, eGuides to eco-holidays!’
For the last few years, I have been lucky enough to be part of the Bushnell stand in the Optics Marquee at BirdFair. Along with Gareth Jones (@TigerGaret on Twitter) and the Bushnell team, we are there to offer help and advice about Bushnell trail cams and optics and to showcase some of the best of our captures with this great kit.
This year has been another amazing show! Gareth and I have been very busy on the Bushnell stand, sharing our best captures and helping visitors purchase a trail cam and understand how to get the very best out of it. The stand looked great and it is always a pleasure to be in the Optics Marquee overlooking the stunning pools on the edge of Rutland water.
We were well positioned, with numerous Bushnell scopes and binoculars when an osprey chose to spend a considerable amount of time on one the posts in these pools! We had some lovely views!
The Birdfair, for me, is not just about showcasing the capabilities of the trail cams, but also about socialising, networking and basically exploring all the wonderful wildlife stands there are on site. I love spending time in the art marquee, marvelling at the illustrative prowess of illustrators such as Richard Lewington and the stunning metal work of Harriet Mead! This barn owl was my favourite this year!
… and this nightjar was also incredible! Harriet uses a range of scrap materials to create truly incredible sculptures. I loved this nightjar as well. If you are not familiar with Harriet’s work, then take a look at her website!
‘I make ‘found object’ sculptures that are made entirely of scrap tools and discarded metal items. I love making these pieces as the work is a quirky combination of other people’s junk and my love of the subject. I sometimes say that I make natural history out of agricultural history. The found object work is often inspired by one item that then takes me on a journey to the finished creature. The Secateur Billed Vulture was one such piece that started with a pair of seized pruners and ended up with a life sized vulture.’
I also met up with and had a chance for a catch up with a whole host of photographers, fellow wildlife enthusiasts, Twitter followers and wonderful people such as Jonathan and Angie Scott.
I was privileged to have a sneak preview of their latest book, soon to be released; Sacred Nature. This stunning book made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and is a true testament to not only their incredible artistic photographic prowess but also to their deep love for Africa.
‘Inspired by Angela Scott’s love of photography and the work of philosopher Joseph Campbell, Sacred Nature: Life’s Eternal Dance is a poignant testament to our vanishing wilderness. Jonathan and Angela Scott have spent much of their adult lives working in the greatest wildlife haven on earth: a slice of wild Africa that straddles the Kenya-Tanzania border and is known as the Mara-Serengeti. This ‘land of endless space’ is home to myriad wild creatures, reminding us of the time when man roamed savannah Africa in search of food and shelter alongside the great beasts.
More than anything, this book is a tribute to Angela’s vision as a photographer and artist. It was she who kept the idea for Sacred Nature alive for many years, sparking the interest of son David, who created a design concept of extraordinary subtlety and flair. The result combines words and images in a powerful testament to ‘the last place on earth’.
It will certainly be on my Christmas list and, yes Angie, I WILL make it out to visit you in Africa in the near future… it would be a dream come true!
Birdfair also offers loads of talks and activities throughout the three days. Being on a stand does mean you have very limited time to attend such events, but I did sneak out to the Jonathan & Angie’s inspiring talk ..
.. and also to friend, Jess French’s debut at Birdfair! Meeting up for a meal the night before, we tried to calm her nerves!
Jess performed a fantastic talk on Sunday and her biggest fans…. the kids who watch her cbeebies series, were straight up there after the talk, to have their photo taken! Will done Jess and I know you will be back next year!
It is almost impossible to come away from BirdFair without some purchases…. and mine was a pretty big one! I have been saving hard and, thanks to Park Cameras, for doing me a great deal, I was able to purchase a lens I have been wanting for a while; the Canon 100-400mm II !
The guys and gals at Park Cameras were fantastic and I recommend visiting their website to check out the deals they have available on a fantastic range of camera kit. They also run a great blog, full of really interesting and helpful articles.
They also run a series of workshop and training opportunities if you are looking for ways to improve and fast track your skills!
I have the Mark I version of this lens and it has become my kit lens… one that I use for 90% of my photography. Many fellow photographers have raved about this new version and I was delighted to come home with it in my bag this year! Watch out for my review and images with it in the coming months! I will also now be selling my Mrk I lens, so if you are interested, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
So, before we knew it, another Birdfair had come to an end and it was time to pack up and head home… exhausted but excited about all I had seen and heard, inspired by incredible people who use our wonderful natural world to inspire them, whether it be through art, literature, photography or some other medium. Wonderful also to see so many amazing young naturalists at the show, who will become the stars in future Birdfairs and to all the families who came, immersing their kids in the special atmosphere that is Birdfair Rutland!
Here’s to next year… it will be here before we know it!