Monday, 22 August 2016

Feeling inspired by Bird Fair 2016

We spent yesterday at the Bird Fair at beautiful Rutland Water. Last year we renamed it the Bug Fair as we spent the entire day looking at mini-beasts and even had a go at bug hunting and pond dipping. In fact by the end of the day we'd barely even noticed there were any birds! This year I'd say it was more of an Inspirational Fair, full of inspiring people, causes and places we can only dream about one day visiting.

Bug Mad Girl had heard about the WWT's Flight of the Swans project already, so she was very excited to meet the team and sit in the paramotor. Sacha, who I have to say looks every bit the intrepid explorer, plans to follow the 7000 km migration of Bewick swans from arctic Russia all the way to Slimbridge. She'll be strapped into a paramotor (which looks a bit like a dismantled shopping trolley with a car seat attached to it) and will fly with the swans, trying to raise awareness of their threats from hunting, power lines, wind turbines and loss of habitat.

Bug Mad Girl has volunteered to go on the next mission!
Bewick swan made out of lego
The Art Marquee is always a big favourite and it's lovely to walk around and get ideas. Bug Mad Girl is a bit of an artist, so she's always looking for inspiration. Last year I came home with a Richard Lewington print, but this year I resisted the temptation (just) and we made do with watching the master at work as he painted a butterfly on the art mural.

Richard Lewington at work
Bug Mad Girl had a go at painting a sparrow on the children's mural...

... and we found a sculpture that was an uncanny resemblance to BMG!

When did she model for that then?
Rutland Water is famous for the Ospreys that nest there each summer. We found out a bit about the Osprey Flyways Project, which links schools across the migration flyway of the Ospreys, providing wildlife education and support for six Gambian schools. We wrote a message to one of the schools and attached it to the nest, which will be taken to Gambia on the next visit.

I couldn't resist taking a few photos of the Ospreys as I was there and I think they turned out quite well really ...

... just joking! Of course I didn't take those photos, just snapped the posters on the Osprey stand!

We met lots of people dedicated to wildlife conservation, including Butterfly Conservation, Buglife, the spider people, the dragonfly society and the badger group. All very committed to their causes and very keen to chat about their work and their creatures of choice. So many people give up so much of their time and care so passionately about wildlife. I'd say that's pretty inspirational too!

Identifying moths on the Butterfly Conservation stand
Meeting the badgers

We even met an albino and a ginger (erythristic) badger!
There were so many stands advertising wonderful birding holidays in exotic locations. Lots of them were giving away freebies and Bug Mad Girl came home with armfuls of pins, posters, sunglasses, wristbands and even a football and a swim bag!
She had quite a collection of pins by the end of the day
Top prize for marketing went to Trinidad and Tobago, for the fluorescent orange sunglasses, beautiful pin and great stand. Other places we would love to visit one day include Gambia, Colombia and Guatemala, who won us over with the lovely friendship bracelets they were handing out. When you tie it on, you make two wishes for yourself and the Guatemalan people make a wish for you as you tie the third knot, that you will one day get the chance to visit Guatemala.

We were also quite taken with the prospect of a whale and dolphin cruise in the Bay of Biscay, run by Brittany Ferries and the charity ORCA. Much more achievable than some of the 'dream' holidays we saw, so we'll just have to work on Dad now!

The Optics Tent was a big hit again this year. I must admit that it's only when you actually look through a good pair of binoculars you realise just how rubbish your own cheap pair are. We all spent quite a long time gazing out over the water actually surprised we could see something out there! Bug Mad Girl has chosen her pair, now she just needs to persuade someone to buy them for her!!

She was also very keen on the popup one man bird hide. Must admit it looked fun, but I managed not to be persuaded (although she tried very hard).

We also spent some time on the lovely Wildlife Trust stand and voted for our favourite wildlife experience.

We also entered several competitions, on other stands, to win a pair of binoculars ... favourite of those was the World Land Trust, who I hadn't heard of before, but they're a bit like the Wildlife Trust but overseas.

We had a lot of fun, the weather was good and we all came away feeling inspired in one way or another.
Watch out! Nanny Moth has turned into a pirate!


  1. Looked like you had a lot of fun. I couldn't make it in the end sadly. Maybe next year.

    1. Oh that's a shame. It was a lot of fun!