Despite being warned by a handful of anonymous, cowardly birdboredom.net boot-lickers to keep well away this year, I decided to attend this year's BBWF anyway. I've taken a fair few beatings over the years for my cheek and it would have been a welcome 'brawl tick' to have gone a few rounds in the corner of a marquee whilst a crowd of khaki clad pensioners looked on. Needless to say I survived the whole day completely unscathed.
There never seems to be any inbetweeny kind of weather at Birdfair, it's either drier than a Courser's foot or it's wetter than the under-belly of a Sandgrouse with thirsty chicks to quench. This year it was mainly soaking, so much so in fact that I completely ruined a gorgeous pair of gleaming white, limited edition, Adidas shell-toe trainers whilst strutting around in mud, the quality of which would have made a Dowitcher grin. Never again will I put vanity above practicality.
So why do I put myself through this every year? Well the main reason is to pick up a few bargains whilst contributing to one of the most worthwhile wildlife charities there is. This year I snaffled up a couple of books out of the thousands on offer. The first was Bird Migration by Ian Newton, a book to savour during those long, dark November evenings. The second was the superb Tales of a Tabloid Twitcher (a review to follow) by Stuart Winter. Another good reason to attend is to catch up with a few pals who you haven't seen in a while and to take part in a spot of 'folking'. This hobby is like 'birding' but instead, the aviforms are replaced with interesting homosapiens. There is no place like it for an afternoon of people watching.
POW! The REAL Batman graces Birdfair!
Photo by Ms Nadia Shaikh
Whilst enjoying Birdfair forget the dozens of bird tour companies who will be happy to take thousands of 'queens heads' from you for them guiding you to a hard to find endemic in some war torn Country. Cast aside those firms that try and flog you overpriced, yet poorly designed outdoor clothing. Shun those greedy optical companies who still fail to realise that the Worldwide economy is still very much f*cked up and that most hard-working birders are totally skint. The real stars of Birdfair are the numerous charities that fight hard for your money and their heroic volunteers that turn up every year to spread the word about their precious organisations. Take the fellow in the photo above. This particular wildlife soldier spent three days soaked to the skin whilst dressed up as a giant Chiroptera, all to help further the cause of the Bat Conservation Trust.
So after a thorough hobble around the various giant tents and a quick nap in the car it was time to catch up on a bit of 'hot feather action'. A quick drive down to Manton bridge immediately produced a new year tick in the form of a pair of Osprey (260). From this excellent viewpoint we also spied a couple of Common Shelduck, 12 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Common Greenshank, 7 Ruff, 2 Green Sandpiper and 4 Common Snipe.