I never used to be a great fan of the Rutland Water Birdfair – we satirised it on the original Llamas site as ‘the usual sad old mix of over-priced optics, splinter groups, bird seed, wax jackets and special birding breaks in Shropshire.’ (click here to see the original ‘Birdspotting fair’ advert)
These days, there’s not quite as much bird seed in evidence (anyone remember the enormous Trill stand?!), the waxed jackets have been replaced by even more expensive breathable fabrics, and bird tour companies (yawn) now make up well over half the stands in the main five marquees. The optics, it goes without saying, are even more over-priced than ever. Four and a half grand for a Zeiss scope with built-in camera anyone?
But I’ve gradually realised over the years that it’s more about the people than the actual ‘attractions’ of the fair – catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. In the former category I was especially pleased to see two ex-LROS Committee members I hadn’t seen since they left Leicestershire: Chris Measures and Mark Holling, neither of whom seemed to have changed at all in 20-odd years!
Sadly, I was unable to see most of Alex Horne’s ‘Birdwatchingwatching’ show on Friday due to badly-timed book signing duties on the LROS stand, but I caught the last ten minutes of it and it was good to meet Alex and have a beer with him afterwards, in the company of John Hague and Dave Gray (and Dave’s Dad of course!). Another new face was Alan ‘Dusty Bins’ Tilmouth, who has posted his own thoughts on the Birdfair on his blog.
The Beast was spotted prowling around, but I was unable to get any incriminating photos of him. Maybe I should have dressed up like this to avoid him seeing me:
Johnny Kingdom (the theme park the Vatican tried to ban?) hopes no-one will spot him in his camouflage gear as he tries to sneak into the ‘Wildlife Film-making for Beginners’ talk in the hope of picking up some tips