Held annually at Rutland Water Nature Reserve in Leicestershire, the world’s largest international birdwatching event draws over 20,000 bird enthusiasts from across the globe. With everything a birder could want in one place, it is unsurprising that this event has captivated the attention of so many. Michelle and I are amazed by breadth of exhibitors and attendees at Birdfair. One quick stroll around the place and it isn’t hard to understand why this has become a birding extravaganza.
Get a birder’s eye view of the industry
At Birdfair, there is something for every birder to enjoy! The British Birdfair is sponsored predominantly by Viking Optical ltd. and In Focus, but big names such as Birdwatch, BBC wildlife, Leica, Lowepro and Manfrotto are must-sees. Hundreds of stands boast the latest and greatest in birding gear and gadgets. In a very hands-on way, birders can examine cutting-edge scopes and bins.
Birders will find everything from suet and celebrities to sculptures and Swarovskis. You can find bird books and artwork galore! Backyard bird food and feeders are on display at every turn. With reputable companies such as Tropical Birding and ArcticBound, the lure of avitourism will inspire wildlife lovers to embark on trips to the most exotic locations.
Without a doubt, Birdfair features all facets of the birding industry and is sure to make everyone giddy at one point or another with its many offerings.
What makes Birdfair even more outstanding is that, aside from bringing together all aspects of the birdwatching industry, it also supports global bird conservation. Funds raised at Birdfair go toward helping to save birds and bird habitats worldwide. Money raised at Birdfair has been channeled into very significant conservation efforts. Funds aid in establishing new national parks and land preservation – from the rainforests of Sumatra to the wetlands of Madagascar. Protecting birds, like the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, from extinction is another way in which this money goes to support critically endangered species. Support is provided in order to facilitate the extensive international collaboration necessary for the development of educational campaigns, which heighten awareness concerning migratory birds. Quite remarkable!
A who’s who of birding
In addition to knowing that you are directly contributing to pressing environmental causes, Birdfair presents you with the opportunity to learn, first-hand, about the status of such conservation efforts. With lectures from internationally renowned conservationists and presentations by birdwatching celebrities, Birdfair is the perfect place to get up-to-speed on what you can do to support birds.
Admittedly, Michelle and I had not quite grasped the full celebrity acclaim of famous birding personalities. It was delightful to see so many thrilled attendees flock to their favorite birding icon. The famed guest list read as a who’s who of modern birdwatching, featuring TV stars Mike Dilger and James Curry; birding revolutionary, Richard Crossley; and safari personality, Simon King, among others. If you are someone who closely follows the birding blogs, Facebook, and Twitter of your favorite twitcher, then Birdfair may well be the ideal opportunity for the “tweet-up” you’ve been dreaming about!
A ‘tweet-up’ for old friends
Birdfair is about more than business. Of course, networking occurs, books are launched and products are sold; however, what makes it so enjoyable is that people have a fantastic time.
Birdfair is a time to catch up with birding friends from all over the globe – it is a reunion of sorts. We cannot even count the number of times we witnessed friends reuniting after years of not having seen one another. And, for us fledgling birders, it was no less fun. One of our favorite aspects of Birdfair was watching people re-connect with old birding buddies. Listening to them reminisce about dreamy birding adventures was a blast! There is nothing like getting a group of passionate people around a table (And might I add that birders are, hands down, among the most dedicated and passionate hobbyists I know!) and watching the sparks fly. It is magical. Comparing notes and sharing stories, as well as many, many laughs, was one of the highlights of our trip. Michelle and I met so many people, enjoyed interesting conversations, and established friendships with folks we hope to know far into the future… getting warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.
Suffice it to say, Birdfair is heavenly. Hope to see you there next year!
For full details of all the events and directions on how to get to Birdfair, please visit www.birdfair.org.uk.