Birdfair aims to save 'Jewel-thrush'
One of the world’s rarest and most spectacular birds is threatened with extinction, but visitors to Britain’s biggest bird event – the 17th annual British Birdwatching Fair – will help save it.
The event is held at Rutland Water and hosted by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. It will raise thousands of pounds to support BirdLife International's work to protect the south-east Asian forest stronghold of the Gurney's Pitta – sometimes referred to as the 'Jewel-thrush'.
The Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi is a brilliantly coloured, but secretive bird of the forest floor. Only known from peninsular Thailand and adjacent southern Myanmar, it has a remarkable history. It was discovered in 1875, fairly widely collected and reported in the 1910s and 1920s, but last seen in 1936 – until its rediscovery in 1986 in southern Thailand, where around 20 pairs are now known to still exist.
In 2003, the ornithological world was stunned to hear the discovery of a new, much larger population of the pitta in southern Tanintharyi Division (Tenasserim), Myanmar. However, large areas of this Critically Endangered species' habitat are in danger of being cleared.
This year’s Birdfair project is titled Helping save Gurney’s Pittas and their forest home. Funds raised will be used to establish protected areas in the lowland forests where the pitta occurs, as well as training and employing conservation staff and assisting local wildlife NGOs in their conservation work with the species.
"The Birdfair is a great day out for anyone interested in wildlife and the countryside, but as well as enjoying themselves, everyone attending will be helping to make a real difference to the future of one of the world's rarest birds." —Martin Davies, the RSPB, Birdfair Co-organiser
At this year's Birdfair there will be displays of wildlife paintings and photographs, talks and displays from wildlife experts on birds and wildlife all around the world, and celebrity quizzes. For children, who enter free, there will be wildlife safaris, face painting and a host of exciting games and activities.
Hundreds of exhibitors, including suppliers of optical equipment, clothing, books, CDs, bird feeding equipment and a wide range of wildlife travel companies and conservation groups will be present.