This weekend was no ordinary weekend, not because the new Premier League season kicked off but because this weekend it was the British Birdwatching Fair.
The British Birdwatching Fair, otherwise known as Birdfair, has been running for 24 years. It started off as just a few stalls but now the place is buzzing with activity. The now hundreds of exhibitors bring in thousands of people with profits going towards a chosen theme. This year it was to aid the East Asian/Australasian flyway. The East Asian/Australasian flyway is one of the most important migratory systems in the world but because of human development is under threat. Already proving its worth with this fantastic cause, Birdfair seems to bring out the best in people. As a first timer and a keen birder I was in heaven here. As a young person who often gets dismissed as a mere twitcher, it was really encouraging for me to be taken seriously about my passion for birds.
I enjoyed meeting and talking to many people during Birdfair. People like Simon King, Stephen Moss and David Lindo were there to talk to me at book signings but people from the BTO such as Neil Calbrade, Dave Leech and Nick Moran were all very encouraging and kind. Neil Calbrade gave an excellent talk on the BTO's Wetlands Bird Survey and then after, gave up 30 minutes of time talking and explaining to me what it was about and eventually signing me up! Nick Moran told me that I was probably the youngest WeBs surveyor! Dave Leech renewed my interest in bird ringing by talking to me about it at the ringing demo and promised to help me get in touch with Kane Brides (expert ringer at Slimbridge). All of these fascinating people, and more, gave up their time to talk to people they've never met before over three days of Birdfair!
There were many lectures during the British Birdwatching Fair but there was one quiz, one quiz which was to turn this fantastic event on its head! A Question of Stork was the name. A take on A Question of Sport in a similar format. But this was to be an utter shambles of a quiz but pure entertainment! Nick Baker and Mike Dilger each have a brilliant sense of humour and both began to try to run the show. They tried to follow the schedule and questions but as the show ran on, the contestants became more and more rebellious and Stephen Moss moved difficult questions along very quickly adding to the humourous effect. Overall a hilarious occasion and it would be great to see again!
There were so many things that were great about Birdfair that it is impossible to write about all of it! I want to finish as I started, by saying that Birdfair seemed to bring the best out of people. There was a lovely informal atmosphere which helped to get people chatting, whether it was having your coffee on a bench or at a stall, everyone was very kind and was pleased to see teenagers like myself at Birdfair. Overall this has been an excellent first Birdfair. As a first timer it was all that I expected and more. I will definitely be going as a second timer next year and Birdfair will be even more magnificent!