Bird Fair Day 2

Mike Dilger presents the award to farmer Graham Birch.

The winner of the Fair to Nature farming award was unveiled at breakfast at the Bird Fair today and it was…drumroll….Graham Birch.  Congratulations to him and to the two Highly Commended farmers (Ian Crabtree and Charles Porter)(click here for details).  Thank you to Fair to Nature (formerly known as Conservation Grade) for a free breakfast, for this award and for what they do to make our food be a little more sustainably produced.

As you can see from the photo above, Mike Dilger appears to be wearing the trousers he’s had since his teens – I’m very impressed he can still get into them but they are a bit short for him now. Never mind, he was one of my four missing people in the ‘Spot these 20’ just-for-fun competition. I am, now, after two days, on a tantalising 19 out of 20 having added Ian Wallace, David Lindo and Mike Dilger today.  I am only missing Richard Porter but he is easily overlooked in a crowd, especially if you are, as I am, 6ft 3in, as Richard is a bit shorter than that.  I have had reports of Richard being seen both yesterday and today but he has been as elusive as a Little Stint in a big flock of Dunlin as far as I am concerned.  And I bet he has flown already. How many have you seen at the Bird Fair so far out of: Chris Packham, Tim Appleton, Mike Clarke, Stephanie Hilborne, Mike Dilger, David Lindo, Bill Oddie, Martin Warren, Matt Shardlow, Martin Davies, Richard Porter, Findlay Wilde, Stephen Moss, Conor Jameson, Andy Clements, Ed Drewitt, Ieuan Evans, Debbie Pain, Ian Wallace, Ian Newton?

After breakfast it was off to an event in the Authors Wildlife Forum tent. This was about David Cobham’s book, The Sparrowhawk’s Lament, and consisted of David being interviewed by Chris Packham about the book.  I’ve reviewed David’s book for the September issue of Birdwatch and to sum it up  – it’s a lovely book, illustrated by Bruce Pearson, and full of interesting stories about Britain’s birds of prey.  The event was packed!

BvLMG-dIYAAfRICDavid Cobham is a Vice-president of the Hawk and Owl Trust, of which Chris Packham is the President.  And a car load of Hawk and Owl Trust staff accompanied their Chairman, Philip Merricks, up to the Hen Harrier day event last Sunday.

I then did some book signings on the Wild Sounds, Subbuteo and Birdwatch stands. I signed lots of books and am slightly surprised by how many copies of Fighting for Birds were sold alongside A Message from Martha. Stocks of Martha were running low in some places yesterday – no wonder my Bloomsbury editor, Jim Martin, looks quite pleased with the world.

By the way, I’m signing books on the Birdwatch stand tomorrow, Sunday morning, from 10-11am and on the Subbuteo stand from 11-12midday.

And then at 1330 I am doing a little talk, entitled Fighting for Birds, in the Authors Wildlife Forum if you’d be interested to come along and heckle or ask questions.

Lots of people have been seen wearing Hen Harrier Day t-shirts at the Bird Fair today too, and I’ll be wearing mine again tomorrow.

And lots of people have been asking what the next step in the Hen Harrier campaign is – it’s a good question and one which a group of us will be thinking hard about over the next few weeks. If you have any ideas you want to throw into the mix then leave them as suggestions here or email them to me – or just go ahead and get on with them!

There clearly is appetite amongst ‘ordinary’ birders to keep the fight going – and I’m sure we will.

Yesterday, in the Q&A session, after Tris and I talked about Passenger Pigeons and Turtle Doves,  a lady, in a Hen Harrier Day t-shirt, who had attended Hen Harrier Day last Sunday (was it only a week ago?), stood up and thanked me for helping to arrange it but, much more importantly, and very touchingly, thanked me and others for giving her a way to make her voice heard. And from the way she said it, you could tell  that she wasn’t just being polite but she really meant it.

maltaBeing part of a campaign, a group of people who believe the same thing, is an empowering feeling and I’m glad that a group of us, not just me, have given birders a chance to have that feeling. It’s actually what NGOs are for, I’ve always thought, to give people a feeling of being part of a movement but it seems as though quite a lot of that feeling is nowadays generated by others such as Chris Packham (over Malta, Hen Harriers and Badgers), Brian May (Badgers), George Monbiot (Rewilding and much more) and others.

Since the Hawk and Owl Trust, in one way or another, are doing such a lot for birds of prey I thought I ought to join – so I did! I filled in the form for a direct debit and am now a member but I also got a copy of the Collins Bird Guide so I’d rush round to the Hawk and Owl Trust in Marquee 1 and sign up as soon as the doors open tomorrow as stocks can’t last that long.

Just across the way from the H&OT are Birdlife Malta where I finished the day and the LACS stand which seemed to catch the mood of the Bird Fair to some extent.







11 Replies to “Bird Fair Day 2”

  1. I am that woman who thanked you for giving me a voice last weekend. I’m also a Hawk and Owl Trust member (hope to see you at the AGM on 4th Oct), a Badger Trust life member, a BBOWT life member and a Durrell Wildlife Trust life member amongst quite a few other memberships. I am passionate though in saying that HHD was different in that it gave me power – to paraphrase the old Helen Reddy song “hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore”. I could have added to the Turtle Dove Q and A on Friday by saying that of the handful of turtle doves in Bucks this year, Calvert is an important site – with HS2 planned to destroy it. HS2 will also destroy Finemere Wood with the newly discovered Bechsteins bats. At least Owen Paterson has gone but it still feels as though government is the main enemy. No bright ideas for a “where next” but was sorry to see “Independent” newspaper Mark Hix cookery section this weekend features tasty food to cook with grouse. Hmm, surely that doesn’t sit awfully well with trying to save Hen Harriers from driven grouse shoot situations?
    Hope you have a fab day 3 at BirdFair (I MUST make all 3 days next year!!) and best wishes for a glorious and happy weekend next weekend when I believe you said your daughter’s wedding is happening.
    PS haven’t had time to start “Martha” yet, am still struggling to get to the end of “Urban Peregrines” that I’ve had since first publication!! Am so looking forward to it though.
    PPS and of COURSE am RSPB member, but too skint presently to be able to afford to take up life membership offer!!
    Best, Sue 🙂

  2. Was in the garden yesterday listening to the guns of a well known Bowland estate at work, blasting the hell out of grouse I was wondering about the next steps. M&S withdrawal of sale is good but probably only small beer (albeit damaging the reputation) so how do you build on this? Shame and question celebs that do it (Jamie Oliver etal) and start to hit the shoots in the pocket – adhoc suprise disruptive peaceful turn ups mid shoot using legitimate rights of access. How many wealthy Italian punters are going to put up with shoots that get disrupted by frustrated tax paying members of the British public? Enjoy the rest of bird fair.

  3. Where next indeed. We were in Derbyshire last weekend and I agree, it did give a feeling of empowerment, a feeling that perhaps this sort of action can start to make a difference. At the Birdfair on Friday both my wife and myself wore our HH t shirts and we were asked questions about it by many people, it certainly sparked off a lot of conversations. I am sure there is a massive groundswell of opinion in favour of further action. I talk about HH persecution a lot with family and friends and I am getting something of a reputation for being a miserable old git, but, that is sometimes the only way to get things done. Moaniing, to MP’s and any others that have have some influence over these matters.

  4. As i feared showing from the two comments above and the LACS stand, the campaign against driven grouse shooting is slowly turning into a campaign against all shooting of game animals. why shouldn’t there be recipes for grouse? presumably they will still be eaten from walk up shooting days? the movement away from eating everything that is shot to shooting large bags has led to the intensive nature of grouse moors and pheasant shoots.

  5. Next step – well one would be to counter the pro grouse shooting media coverage either by getting more media coverage for the raptor persecution situation – with the real and scientifically based facts. Could we fund an ad in say The Times with some emotive pictures, facts and quotes to play them at their own game?

  6. Mark – On behalf of the Hawk & Owl Trust, delighted that at the Bird Fair yesterday, you signed up to become a member. And am really pleased to hear that in your words, the reason is that “since the Hawk and Owl Trust in one way or another are doing such a lot for birds of prey, you thought that you ought to join”.
    Mark, you will remember that yesterday at the Bird Fair you and I had a useful conversation about the hen harrier/grouse moor issue. We all want to get to a position, “in one way or another”, where the illegal killing of hen harriers on grouse moors and elsewhere is ended. How we get there is very much open to discussion. During our chat, the conversation got round to our time on the rugby field. You were a heavyweight forward who loved nothing more than a ruck and a maul and to rumble the ball over the try line leaving the opposition battered and bruised. Whilst I, as a threequarter (the backs) passed the ball amongst ourselves and scored our tries through more delicate play (or so I like to think).
    My serious point is that the Hawk & Owl Trust has a long history of working with land managers to create better habitats giving better feeding and breeding conditions for birds of prey. When I was a Trustee of the Hawk and Owl Trust 20 or so years ago, I well remember the discussion on how to achieve the greatest gains for birds of prey by condemning the bad guys, working with the good guys and converting those in the middle. As you heard from David Cobham at his interview yesterday.
    No doubt that the hen harrier/grouse moor problem will be solved “in one way or another” and you can be more than pleased that you have created the interest which has focussed attention on illegal activities of certain land managers. Which are indefensible.

  7. Mark – Re the Hawk and Owl Trust, I should have said that one of the first things that I did when I was asked to take the chair was to phone Prof Ian Newton and ask him if he would become a H&OT Vice President. To which he readily and very kindly agreed. As perhaps the UK’s premier avian scientist, he, to continue with the rugby analogy, is the team analyst, master tactician and strategist. i think that it’s fair to say that no one is more widely respected in the field of ornithology.

    1. All this nicely nicely approach, pots of public funding to shoots has got it this far?

      But it is pretty much through the actions of Mark, Chris Packham & BAWC that it is just beginning to get the public profile it needs. It now needs that continuing ruck & maul whilst you continue to tip toe through the sweet smelling tulips? Both hare & tortoise got there in the end, but can we please do so before HHs are extinct as a breeding bird in England?

  8. We desperately need to get the RSPB with its large membership to get involved more and get information out to that membership.Maybe a chance to get Professor Steve Ormerod on the case when he gives us a blog.
    After all Bob the Red Squirrel says scientists predict less than 1,000 pairs of Turtle Doves by 2020,what a pity he does not say how many pairs of Hen Harriers they predict in England by 2020.
    By far the most important thing I believe is finding a way to inform the wider audience as so far only those really interested in Hen Harriers know what is happening.
    Professor Steve could be a saviour in that respect as it seems other top bods want very little to do with it.

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