Friday, 28 August 2009

Board silly

Hands up how many Leicestershire birders noticed the new interpretation board at Burrough Hill Country Park whilst twitching the Montagu’s Harrier this week? Just in case you missed it in your haste for a county tick, I took this photo of the ‘points of interest’ section:

This is how I imagine the meeting of the County Council Parks Department went when they discussed this:

“Right, none of us knows anything about birds, so we have two options for this new board. Either we could contact a local bird club, or perhaps the RSPB and see what they suggest we put on it – I’m sure they’d be happy to help out, and they’d probably have some relevant photos we could use, OR we could use this random photo of a bird which I think might be a falcon (or possibly a hawk), crop out the falconer’s gauntlet it’s perching on, and bung that on. No, you’re right, the second option would be much quicker. I’m sure no-one will ever notice.”

And then there are the classic ‘information’ boards at Watermead Country Park South, which look like someone’s traced some of Thomas Bewick’s engravings and coloured them in. They include helpful species such as Eider and Bean Goose (actually there was an Eider there once), but very few of the species people are actually likely to see around the park. And even if the bird you’re looking at is shown on the boards you wouldn’t be able to identify it from the grotesque parodies of living birds they’ve used for illustrations.

I’ve lost the photo I had, but the best example of this sort of thing I ever saw was in Ireland a few years ago. It was advertising boat trips off County Galway, and had photos of Galapagos Cormorant and Sea Otter on it (or it might have been a sea lion, I can’t remember). Impressed, we went on the boat trip, but sadly didn’t manage to add either species to the Western Palearctic list...

Monday, 24 August 2009

Two posts in one day!

Just a quick one - this headline on the Grauniad website amused me:

Oh yes, and the recession is 'at an end' according to the same site. Funny - I'm sure the BBC were saying it was 'worse than previously feared' only last week...

Birdfair Ramblings

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.

Alex on stage in the Events Marquee

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

But most of the day was spent on the LROS stand, signing books and posing for silly photos like this:

Rob studies his contract carefully, claiming that appearing in the line-up might infringe his image rights