Game Fair 3 – in photos

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This must be about my 20th Game Fair, so I realised that when it said that it opened at 9am this was just nonsense – soon after 8am I had parked, got a lift on a trailer from the car park to the entrance, paid to enter and then started walking down the hill where this vista opened up in front of me…

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You can see it was a bit drizzly on Saturday morning.  Aren’t those trees magnificent?

By the way, the Game Fair is as old as I, 56 years, and this was its fifth at Blenheim. I wonder what the first Game Fair was like – when it was a baby?

I always think that the sight of tents and banners on the hill-top must be somewhat reminiscent of a medieval army encamped and waiting for action.

By the time I had walked down the hill, over the bridge (and glanced at some quite evidently expert fly-casting – although I wouldn’t really know) and then walked up the hill and bought myself a cup of coffee it was raining quite hard.

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If it had continued in this vein then it would have been a rather miserable day – but by 11 it was scorching!

Some of what happens at the Game Fair is clearly not aimed (geddit) at me. There are quite a lot of people wanting to help you with your wealth and your land, including, of course, the CLA itself…

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…but they aren’t the only ones…

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…and once they have managed your land and your wealth for you, you’ll want to spend some of your money. How about a day’s (Red) grouse shooting?  At a mere £34,000 per day you and some mates could have an ‘unlimited brace’ day’s shooting in North Yorkshire at the end of August (if only my daughter weren’t getting married on the 30th I’d consider it (having had a practice shoot)) but maybe next year. Or maybe I’ll go for the more local 300 Pheasant day in Northamptonshire (just £10,800) at a time to suit in December.

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As you can see, everybody loves birds at the Game Fair. In fact, you could get the impression that everyone loves birds of prey, even.

We birders are used to seeing Swarovski advertising their excellent binoculars with the image of the sharp-eyed Goshawk but they are also selling sights to this audience with the same bird – quite funny really.

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And we know how keen the Countryside Alliance is on birds of prey – they don’t need to prove it by having a falconer on their stand (but they did go that extra mile to prove it) with American Kestrel (not a pest of game in the UK)…

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…and a Gyr Falcon which looked like it felt that it ought to be sitting on an iceberg off Greenland rather than a perch in Oxon…

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Not to be outdone, the National Gamekeepers Organisation had some birds of prey on their stand too. The Countryside Alliance had captive birds, the NGO had dead stuffed birds (you couldn’t make it up could you?)…

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Note the Turtle Dove – that’s only the second I have seen this year, so far.

There are some moments of humour.  The RSPB may have had a committee sitting for weeks to come up with their banner…

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…wildlife in your sights (geddit?).  And note that the RSPB has a photo of two live Turtle Doves – that’ll be the UK population soon.

This sign genuinely made me smile, although it didn’t make me buy…

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…and this one is priceless (provided the authors really did realise what they were doing)…

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…which I am sure they did so here is a link to this excellent organisation.

There are no other weekends that I spend, where it hardly raises an eyebrow to see a bloke sitting, sheltering from the rain with his bow and arrows beside him…

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Didn’t I tell you that there was a medieval army on the hill?

They seemed quite well-armed but generally pretty friendly to me, even though I am asking you to sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting (which has now passed 8400 signatures). What price 10,000 by the Inglorious 12th?

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4 Replies to “Game Fair 3 – in photos”

  1. An excellent selection of photos Mark. Do you think the RSPB are making a point (to those at the Game Fair) or do you think it's an innocent remark, albeit somewhat inappropriate?

    As for the NGO marquee, with all those stuffed raptors, there could be a 'hidden' up yours there too...

    (Maybe I'm just being paranoid. I have been up all night with my four-week-old son!)

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  2. A friend of mine wanted a stand at the Bird Fair and was told there was a waiting list of 300! The game fair moves around and has room for everyone at a price. How much money does the bird fair loose each year by not having enough space?

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  3. When the Hawk and Owl Trust used to have a stand at the CLA Game fair, the main impression I got was of sheer indifference to conservation issues. Manning the stand was really boring because not that many were interested. Of those that were, I guess 70% were positive, 20% didn't see the point, 10% hostile. We did meet some of our members face to face, we did inform the public on birds of prey, we did give conservation advice to landowners. Gave up eventually on cost/benefit grounds (a bit of a cop out), with some strong misgivings about "just preaching to the converted"
    . Hope you had a look at the wildlife art, some of it is brilliant.

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  4. We couldn't make it to the English game fair this year. (Toddler issues). Shame as the one at Blenheim is now our most local and I thought I might have bumped into you there ( I'd have said hello).
    Nice to see your photos and thoughts. I know the falconer you photographed and didn't think he'd be there in any capacity.
    Double shame.
    Aw well. Maybe in three years time or whenever it's next in Blenheim...

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