Bird Fair 2013 – Day 2


Had a great day at the Bird Fair yesterday – didn’t go to a talk, hardly looked at a stand, but talked to lots and lots of people.

It was easy to get in and the weather was wet, then hot, then windy – I left before the plague of locusts arrived.

The main topics of conversation yesterday seemed to be: how rubbish Defra are, has the RSPB lost its way?, what are we going to do about the lack of hen harriers in England (and elsewhere)?, isn’t it good what the RSPB is doing for birders at the Bird Fair, how well the BTO is doing, lead ammunition, Marks and Spencer, would Labour be any better?, young birders, have the NGOs lost their nerve? and isn’t the Bird Fair wonderful!

I have not yet spotted eight of my 50 ‘people to see’ but two of them aren’t here so that leaves these six:  Keith Brockie (I will come to your stand today so that should be easy!),  Alan Davies and Ruth Miller (can’t believe I haven’t seen you), Peter Jones (I will come to your stand today so that should be easy!),  Chris Packham and Simon Papps.  I saw Peter Wilkinson in the distance twice and we tried to phone each other but failed to hook up.

David Tipling (l) and Mark Cocker (r) with the excellent Birds and People.
David Tipling (l) and Mark Cocker (r) with the excellent Birds and People.

Mark Cocker and David Tipling were signing and selling their excellent book and being told, rightly, how very good it is.

Mark is a mate so I chatted to him but this was the first time I’d met David.  I hadn’t thought of this (there are so many things I haven’t thought of) but he said what a pleasure it had been to be the sole photographer for their book because it gives a continuity of style.  Just as Mark’s writing maintains its own style and personality through the pages so do David’s photographs.  Obvious when you think about it, but I hadn’t thought about it.




Peter Cooper
Peter Cooper

Peter Cooper is a young man with lots of ideas.  In theory I am supposed to be a mentor to him through A Focus on Nature but I’m not sure which of us will be learning the most!

Peter is off to university in the autumn but he already blogs for the Independent!

He’ll go far – and I don’t just mean to the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus.









MarkHI really enjoyed meeting Mark Holling – secretary of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel.  The panel does a great job but it can only do it if you and I submit records to our county recorders, and county recorders pass them on.

I always enjoy the Panel’s reports in British Birds and the next one is coming very soon.  I’ll look forward to it.

If you doubt that the world is getting warmer then just look at the Panel’s recent reports of rare breeding birds, and keep your eyes on the next five years’ worth, and then tell me there is nothing happening.






I was lucky enough to chat to three chief execs yesterday: Marco Lambertini, Martin Warren and Andy Clements.  Wildlife conservation is lucky to have such nice people at the helm.  Marco is the ‘boss’ of BirdLife International and we talked about a whole range of things but particularly about how bonkers Britain would be to leave the EU (my words , not his).  The EU Directives are the only things keeping even more destruction away from our wildlife.  If we lose them we will never regain them.  Be warned!  And have you heard UK wildlife NGOs shouting about this (have you heard them shouting at all?)?

Martin Warren is the ‘boss’ of Butterfly Conservation – the Bird Fair wouldn’t be the same without them these days – and knows everything about UK butterflies, and most of everything about UK moths, and almost everything about UK nature conservation.   And he is a very nice man too.  Butterfly Conservation deserves your support and I was really glad to hear that they are having an excellent Bird Fair for recruiting people.

Andy Clements is taking the BTO to new heights. A birder, conservationist and all-round good guy.  I’m looking forward to the Swanwick conference in December.

One more day – will I see you? If you are a reader of this blog then please do say hello!

Thank you to the people who have bought Fighting for Birds – an embarrassingly large number of copies left on the NHBS stand!

One more day just isn’t enough – but it’s all we have.



11 Replies to “Bird Fair 2013 – Day 2”

  1. Probably the rspb does not like the truth about their Hen Harrier efforts as two comments on their forums not been posted.Shame on them the truth hurts and of course it sounds rude to say the truth but I avoided any swearing etc.
    How will anyone know how people feel if they censure comments so ruthlessly and just print comments in their favour.
    Lets face it the fact is no Hen Harrier nests were successful in England last year and the rspb are going on about how they are going to change things and yet they are trotting out all the same old things that have never worked and will never either happen or work.
    They must live in cloud cuckoo land.

    1. ” … cloud cuckoo land” – an address in Smith Square

      To sit around the table with Defra, you have to maintain your welcome. Simples

  2. I don’t think the rspb live in cloud cuckoo land. If they did cuckoos might not be in decline. No – in cloud land is OK. Personally I think they have their heads in the sand. And one of reasons why this is allowed to continue Mark is, as you say in your post, everyone is nice and are “mates”. What I noticed when I was working for the rspb as a volunteer was that everyone else in the rspb was a “mate”. Your line manager was a mate, the people you were managing were mates. Health and Safety checks were done by a mate. Quality assurance was carried out by a mate. All nice guys. I was told by a mate that this was the “rspb way”. In my real job when I got to work late my boss wanted to know why. If I got something wrong I soon knew about it. If results were poor you were pulled over and asked to explain yourself. Not so at the rspb. If you don’t expect too much from the people working for you they won’t expect too much from you in return. Why rock the boat? Low expectations lead to low results. Of course, many rspb people achieve really good things and the rspb has achieved many successes. But that is a long way short of saying that the rspb is as good as it ought to be. If the rspb was a corporate body in the economic world it would be seen as fat and flabby, poorly managed with too many under performing sections and staff, and ripe for a takeover. The recent advert, logo and magazine changes indicate that some staff sort of feel this but collectively cannot make the right decisions. Get someone in from outside the rspb that can run a large conservation organisation. As a member of the rspb I expect a vital and focused rspb, that manages its resources effectively to ensure that hen harriers breed in England, to ensure that turtle doves can be heard across Britain ………..
    All the best mate.

  3. Your eyesight is better than mine! This must be the first Birdfair we’ve missed each other for some years. Quite apart from our general catch-up, ironically this year I had one particular point I was looking forward to discussing. So here goes. It relates to the State of Nature report and the blog you did about that. By the time I had worked out what I really wanted to say, the moment had passed (as it tends to do rather quickly in these immediate internet days). There are a lot of organisations involved in the report and, as you point out, equally others missing. I’ve always had a niggle at the back of my mind about the proliferation of organisations, which I suspect may be a gift to governments who can to play one off against another if they want to kick an issue into the long grass.
    Firstly, I recall Richard Fitter once saying that the only thing that limited the number of organisations was the number of people willing to be Secretary (personally, I’d change that these days to Treasurers, who seem to be much harder to recruit).
    Secondly (and this time my memory is not quite so good as to the source), I recall that it was Ian Prestt whose big regret was that he had not been able to pull off a merger between RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts (I think it was when reminiscing with someone else about Ian shortly after his untimely death, rather than talking to Ian himself). It certainly struck me, and it might have been quite visionary, though I guess controversial.
    No doubt we could have elaborated, but here FWTW are the thoughts.
    Will look forward to reading your post about today.
    PS. Did check the two Barn Owl boxes on the way home. Stock Doves on top of a Jackdaw nest in one, single Barn Owl chick, now ringed, in the other.

    1. I’ll throw this out in hope. As a Birdfair volunteer I’m also a long-standing charity finance professional. If any conservation bodies need a Treasurer, hands-on or in the background – ask me!

  4. I like the photo of the Fairbirds! Any chance of labelling it? Any comments about the music would be welcome. We certainly enjoyed entertaining people and being part of Birdfair. It was great to meet so many like-minded people who care so much about nature. The ambassador from Paraguay seemed a real gem, and took a Cd of Songs about Birds back to Paraguay!

  5. Mark, the Fairbirders that you’ve pictured at the top were a jarring note at Birdfair for me! All their songs about birds are in the minor key and seem to be about their death. Much better was Fly Lady Fly, by Fiona Kennedy and Ruaridh MacDonald in the Celebration of Ospreys on Sunday afternoon.

    1. A bit harsh Nigel but my fault for inviting comments. Actually 2 out of 12 songs talk about death, one of which raises awareness of the Save the Albatross campaign (no minor chords in that one). Isn’t that also what Birdfair is all about? The CD celebrates our birds. We worked hard, and played for free. Sorry if you found it all so jarring!

      1. Ronnie – the bits I heard, I liked. It’s quite hard to grab people’s attention when they are eating their lunches and chatting to their mates.

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