Saturday 18 August 2018

Birdfair, Rutland Water 2018

Friday 17 August

Along with many thousands of birders form all over the country, and beyond, I attended the thirtieth annual Birdfair at Rutland Water near Oakham on the opening day accompanied by my Belgian friend, Marieke Berkvens.  This is also my local patch and less than fifteen minutes away from our little house in Stamford but on this occasion the journey took us two minutes short of the hour such was the traffic making its way to Rutland Water from all over the country.  Perhaps everyone wanted to attend the first of the three days.  As usual Birdfair was well supported by every trade and connection that had any connection with birding, no matter how peripheral - including all sorts of catering!

Working our way along the main Stamford to Oakham road we were able to watch an Osprey quartering the water to our left and then, following the lengthy queue, eventually work our way round the "showground" itself with all its various marquees and various outlets.  Lots of lecture theatres on this occasion with a very full and exciting programme and, perhaps it seemed, a representative for just about every country in the World representing every continent.  There was New Zealand, India, Argentina, Falkland Islands, Christmas Island, Australia, most African and American countries and, I think, every country in Europe.  If they have birds and birding then somewhere there will be a bird company.  Then, of course, there were all the birding magazines and periodicals, clothing, accessories, every make of binocular and telescope plus cameras.

For many, of course, it is the ideal venue to meet friends and colleagues and generally have a good natter and form networks.  Bird tours are booked, new equipment purchased , problems (as in my case) resolved, etc.  My new Swarovski binoculars have never seen right so a visit to the company stand confirmed I was right, binoculars taken for a free repair and to be returned to Spain in about three weeks.  Readers may have noticed the comments made about my new bridge camera and the RAW image problems I was having.  A visit to the Canon specialists then solved this issue, what an idiot I felt when the first problem resolved and even a suggestion as to what  might be the best download solution.  Two out of three so over to the Bird Journal stand re the update on my recording program and ask if possible to record both Spanish and British sightings but not have the totals combined ion the sum,arty.  Interesting response form the designers so there might be a new update in the future and, in the meantime, I have a solution for the present tome.  All is going just swimmingly well - and even the weather was perfect.

A Birdfair would not be a Birdfair without the people.  You are always bound to bump into somebody you know, whether it be a friend from distant parts or a fellow birder met on a previous visit here or abroad.  In my case, along with Marieke, we were able to make contact with other birders from Spain and members of the Andaluicai Bird Society with a good representation from our Spanish professional guides including Jose Luis Sanchez, Niki Williams and Simon Tomkin, Manual Morales - and apologies to any I have missed out.

"Andalucia Wildlife Guides" stand with Jose Luis Sanchez Balsera back left
Next up was our Treasurer, Janet Dixon, who had travelled down form Lancashire with nearby neighbour and another ABS member, Sue Hogg.

(From left) Marieke Berkvens, Janet Dixon and Sue Hogg
Then we came cross fellow UK member of the Society, John Cantelo.  A few years ago I discovered that both John and I had attended the same grammar school in Southampton, even lived within a mile of each other, and whilst speaking with John, who had already met Marieke out in Spain, along came fellow Spanish member Alvaro Peral.  Shame I did not get much time to speak to Alvaro as, at the same time, well know television presenter Chris Packham walked by and stopped to peak to a couple of people standing next to us.  At this point I mentioned to John that I was pretty sure that Chris, too, had attended the same school.  Only one way to settle that question, wait till he had finished his conversation and make contact.  All conformed albeit by the time he attended the school it had become a Sixth Form College.  Three "Old Tauntonians" gathered together at Birdfair with me being the grumpy old man and Chris the youngster - 'nough said!

Old Tauntonians John Cantelo (left), Chris Packham and RNW

Exhausted, tired and in need of a rest Marieke and I finally left the site to drive round, via Manton Bay and the Osprey's nest, to Lyndon Top so that Marieke might get a better perspective of Rutland Water.   Entering the lane down to the car park we had make quick use of the break or the county would be one hen Pheasant short!  Lots of birds on both the water and nearby rocks to our left including Canada and Greylag Geese, Mute Swan, Black-headed and Great Black-backed Gulls, Moorhen, Coot, Little Egret, Cormorant, etc whilst feeding on the provided seed hoppers we had numerous Blue and Great Tits along with Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.  Better yet, both a male Reed Bunting and Tree Sparrow put in an appearance.

From here we completed the circle round the water before heading back to Stamford and the next big decision of the day, where shall we eat tonight?  Then, of course, comes the start of the return journey back to Spain on Sunday morning and the thought of some Spanish birding in the Pyrenees and Damiel, not to mention sites in Belgium with Marieke, before reaching Mezquitilla.  No sooner back than the Axarquia Bird Group will be meeting at the Guadalhorce in Malaga on Thursday 30 August,(will the Pacific Golden Plover still be about?) and the drive down to Tarifa the following day in readiness for, hopefully, seeing a great migration sight as the raptors pass over.

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Osprey, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jackdaw, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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