Only 362 days until the next Bird Fair.

Towards the end - the crowds thin and people begin to disperse
Towards the end – the crowds thin and people begin to disperse

Well, that’s another Bird Fair of sun, rain, ice-creams, beer, books, binoculars, holidays, talks, friends, colleagues, queues and friendship. But it’s also the first one where Hen Harrier Day t-shirts were almost everywhere except on a very scantily clad lady who strolled through the food area. What are things coming to?

I’ll miss this enormous harrier

Sunday was a quieter day and started with some rain. I managed a quick chat with Jessie Barry from Cornell (and best wishes to all friends there) and then a slightly longer one with the Wilde family. Do you know, I’m going to miss them and their enormous Hen Harrier next weekend!

I was stuck on 19 of the 20 ‘faces to spot’ – Richard Porter eluded me. How many of you saw 20 out of 20?

I did a couple of book signings, on the Birdwatch and Subbuteo stands, and then a well-attended talk and a mini book signing in the Authors Wildlife Forum.

I was wondering how many millionaires there were at the Bird Fair this weekend – I met a couple, maybe three, but there are probably quite a few.

I had a bit more time to chat to people and relax today and I enjoyed the day immensely.  I’m sure we will be told that this Bird Fair was the biggest ever, we usually are, and maybe it was, but it was certainly ‘up there’ in my list of most-enjoyable ones.

As always, I met people I know and met some people for the first time who will now be added to my list of people I know for next Bird Fair.

What a gorgeous bird - I quite fancy this one!
What a gorgeous bird – I quite fancy this one!

Yesterday I met a young man of 8 (I think it was) who came up to me (with Dad standing just a little way back) and engaged me in conversation about Hen Harriers. Crikey he was impressive in both his confidence and his cogency.  Seems to me that there are plenty of clever young people in the world (there always are) and they may be able to sort out the mess that we are leaving them.

Here’s another tale from yesterday. I saw Iolo Williams and we were talking Hen Harriers. And then we talked about Iolo being on the TV. He told me that he saw a local farmer in his part of Wales after he’d been on Springwatch and had asked his farmer friend whether he had sen Iolo on TV, to which the reply was ‘Yes’. ‘Did you enjoy it?’ asked Iolo, ‘Not really’ said the farmer, and drove off. It’s tough being a TV personality with critics like that, I guess.  I dare say that Chris Packham gets even worse reviews from the Countryside Alliance and some of their supporters after his stand against badger killing, the Maltese spring slaughter and Hen Harrier persecution.

I had a chat with Peter Cooper, of AFON, whom I am supposed to be mentoring, and I’m looking forward to seeing him and many others again at the AFON Conference in Cambridge on 5 September.

I spent time talking to lots of friends over the three days. One was missing – get well soon Derek Moore if you are reading this (and even if you aren’t!) – the Bird Fair isn’t quite the same without your accent, your stories and your overall massive presence.

I also met, in person for the first time, Guest Bloggers here, Matt Williams (here and here)  and Simon Phelps.

I chatted briefly, not enough, to Peter Jones (and thank you, Peter, for the article on Hen Harriers in Birds of Andalucia), chatted to the founder of British Wildlife (Andrew Branson) and its new editor (Malcolm Tait – who disclosed an excellent addition to the writing stable), a whole bunch of former colleagues at the RSPB, and just loads and loads of people.

I’ll write more about the future of the Bird Fair later in the week but I just have to say how much I enjoyed this one. A big thank you to Tim and Martin and a whole gang of other people for all their efforts to stage it every year.

There was an awful lot of talk about Hen Harriers this year and a bunch of people are going to have to think hard about what might be the next steps in the campaign. It’s only a week since hundreds of us assembled for the first ever Hen Harrier day but there is great appetite for more action.  Remember that, tomorrow, the RSPB Chair of Council has a Guest Blog here on the RSPB’s chosen way forward.

But, I have to admit, that part of my delight at this Bird Fair is that I seem to have sold a lot of books. I’ve certainly signed an awful lot – mostly of A Message from Martha but also quite a few Fighting for Birds too!  Thank you to all who bought, and to all who said nice things about both books.  there were very few copies of Martha left at the end of the Bird Fair – Wild Sounds sold out, Birdwatch had one copy, Subbuteo had very few and NHBS were down to their last two. Nicely judged guys and thank you for all your help!

A Message from Martha almost goes extinct on Bird Fair bookstands but the author regards this as perfectly sustainable harvesting.
A Message from Martha almost goes extinct on Bird Fair bookstands but the author regards this as perfectly sustainable harvesting.


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3 Replies to “Only 362 days until the next Bird Fair.”

  1. Mark, I agree with most of the above. A good and busy Bird Fair on Friday at least. I didn’t bump into you which is unusual and shows the problem when you are being guided by grandchildren, but I have acquired the book.

    So what don’t I agree with re the above. It is simply your maths in the title. Next year the Bird Fair is nearly a week later and doesn’t start until 21 August. Hopefully by then we may a have a bit of movement on Harriers etc.

  2. Suspect Iolo has a far better understanding of working countryside than Packham will ever have along with far more countryside supporters.

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