14 Aug 2019

7 best things about Birdfair

Participants in last year's Birdfair quiz. © Eric Renno
By Margaret Sessa-Hawkins

It’s that time of year again! Birdfair — a.k.a Glastonbury for birders, the pride of Rutland Water, the biggest birding blowout in the UK — is just around the corner. We at BirdLife could not be more excited. Just check out some of the great things Birdfair 2019 has on offer!

7. The Food
Pizza. Jacket potatoes. Mini donuts. Crepes. Ice cream. Just thinking about the selection of grub on offer this year makes us hungry. This year’s menu has a strong selection of vegan and vegetarian foods, as well as a range of options for any dietary restrictions. And if you walk around the exhibitor stalls, you might find a few extra treats. Ever wanted to try biscuits from Bulgaria? Candy from Portugal? Baked goods from Greece? We’ve even seen some stalls bringing in some, shall we say, ‘stronger’ beverages for attendees to sample.

6. The Optics
Viking. InFocus. Swarovski. Zeiss. You know the names. You probably even own a scope or pair of bins from them. But have you ever been to one location where all their latest gear is on display for you to try? A place where you can look at Shelducks paddling along a lagoon through a pair of binoculars that just came out that month? You have if you’ve been to Birdfair! As a bonus both Viking and inFocus are co-main sponsors of Birdfair, and give 10 percent of all their profits to BirdLife. So you can see birds, all while helping to save them.

5. The chances to win win win!
Do you want to win a free pair of binoculars? A carved wooden bird? Even… an international trip? These are just some of the prizes that are typically available at Birdfair stands. And this year BirdLife International will be offering a prize of our own. In partnership with Rockjumper we’re holding a prize draw for a birdwatching trip to Cambodia to see the country’s ‘Big five’ — Critically Endangered birds that your Birdfair ticket is helping to support. So come to birdfair, support the big five, and potentially win a trip to see them. You might say it’s a win win win situation.

4. The people
Of course Birdfair wouldn’t be Birdfair without the people. Not only does the event offer an opportunity to catch up with the birding friends you maybe haven’t seen as often as you’d like, it also gives you the opportunity to talk to the conservationists and scientists who are on the ground working to protect the birds you love. If that weren’t enough, there are roughly 400 (400!) lovely volunteers who dedicate their time and energy each year to make this incredible event possible. We know birds are awesome, but at Birdfair we think the people are pretty cool too.

3. The Events
Of course Birdfair isn’t just about supporting conservation, there’s also the opportunity to learn about conservation. Every year the event lines up a spectacular array of speakers to talk about the most pressing issues in science and conservation. Want to learn how you can best help birds? Always wanted to know the best way to trap moths? Curious about what’s being done to address climate change around the world? Eager to test your knowledge of your favorite birding celebrities with a quiz? You can do all this and more at this year’s fair.

2. Seeing Rutland Water
One of the best things about Birdfair is that it’s held at an amazing venue. Rutland Water is one of the most important habitats for waterbirds in the UK, and regularly sees more than 25,000 wildfowl. To view the stunning wildlife, check out one of the reserve’s 30 hides — where you can view one of ten different lagoons. The reserve is home to several pairs of Osprey (which are usually visible during Birdfair) as well as otters, deer, and a host of butterflies. If you ever find yourself overwhelmed with the talks and exhibitions, you can always duck out to the reserve to reconnect with nature.

1. Supporting a great cause
Of course the best thing about Birdfair is that all proceeds go to supporting a great conservation project. This year, it’s to help conserve five Critically Endangered bird species in Western Siem Pang, Cambodia. Your Birdfair ticket will go towards a range of projects in the area, including sustainable farming initiatives, helping to train wildlife rangers and expanding ‘vulture restaurants’ — safe feeding areas which provide poison-free livestock.