What a great Bird Fair! But it always is.
I really enjoyed Day 3 and I went to four really good talks.
The first was by Claire Thompson in the Authors’ Forum and was about mindful birdwatching. This was an interesting talk and given very well. I’m really glad that I went to it and I hope that Claire sold lots of books as a result.
But I already had Claire’s book and I had to rush off to Lecture Theatre 1 to listen to one of the best talks I have heard, ever, at the Bird Fair (and the next two I attended were in the same ‘exceptional’ category). This one was by John Fitzpatrick, the Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – an ornithologist with a global reputation. I’ve met John, and Molly, in Ithaca and enjoyed their hospitality and I knew that the talk would be good. Mind you, it was a bit of a fluke that I noticed the talk existed and it’s only because I looked at the programme this year with more than usual care that I did notice it. I felt a little embarrassed for we Brits, and the Bird Fair, that Fitz’s audience was respectable but his talk about ebird and what it can do in North America didn’t receive a much larger audience. I’m very glad I was there, and rather sorry that more people weren’t sitting nearby.
My next talk was by Hugh Warwick and it was very entertaining, very stimulating and very Hugh. If you missed it, you missed a treat. I’d have bought a copy of his most recent book on the spot if they hadn’t run out – so I have ordered one from Blackwell’s and I’ll be reviewing it here soon. Man-made straight lines through the countryside – roads, canals, walls, hedges etc – barriers or corridors?
And then there was Helen Pilcher talking about de-extinction – the subject of her excellent book. Top talk! No, I mean the top talk I have heard for quite some time (Chris Packham excepted, for he is in a different category). A well-constructed talk on a subject that is interesting in itself but perhaps not immediately incredibly appealing, and given with considerable charm, clarity and craft. Again, if you were there than I can’t see how you can fail to have enjoyed it and if you were nearby doing something else, then you missed another treat (so buy the book to catch up!).
Around all these excellent talks there was still time to meet lots of people, and have those conversations that had been set up over the past few days and those that were serendipitous. I had really enjoyable chats with Inglorious Bustards, Peter Jones, Andy Clements, Carry Akroyd, Rebecca Nason, David Tipling, Mike Langman, Keith Brockie, John Riutta and many others including many readers of this blog.
I have a few stories from the Bird Fair that I’ll deliver over the coming week and I’ll also collect my thoughts on the direction that the Bird Fair should take.
But thank you to everyone, and that means everyone, who makes the Bird Fair such a success and an enjoyable one. Only 362 days until the next one.