Quick update

At the Bird Fair yesterday:

  • it rained a bit
  • the paths were muddy in places (the going was soft, heavy in places)
  • the people were lovely
  • the food was good
  • the beer was good
  • the talks were good – even though I only went to one of them!
  • the Wild Justice e-petition passed several more milestones and now stands at over 58,000 signatures

At the Bird Fair today, I predict:

  • it won’t rain
  • the paths will be muddy in places but will be drying out
  • the people will be lovely
  • the food will be good
  • the talks will be good
  • Charlie Jacoby of Fieldsportstv will be given a very warm Bird Fair welcome and will ask Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and me a bunch of questions which we will answer (Main Events stage at midday)
  • after Charlie has been applauded off stage some young people, two of whom were at Hen Harrier Day on Sunday, will move you with their words
  • the Wild Justice e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting will pass 60,000 signatures by lunch time and keep on going strongly

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16 Replies to “Quick update”

  1. I had forgotten the Charlie Jakoby 'grilling' is today. I've got a feeling there will actually be a great deal of hilarity at Charlie's expense. Good god I wish I was going to be there! Almost feel it would be unsporting of me to wish you, Ruth and Chris good luck (not that you need it) and I should be offering it to poor Charlie, but I can't bring myself to be that charitable.

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  2. Every year I go to Birdfair and I struggle more and more. As an event which promotes itself as a conservation event and clearly does promote conservation it does so selectively and although conservation fundraising it is dominated by commercial firms selling wildlife tourism which by and large requires long haul flight and I’m unsure if any vetting takes place around their practice. There seems to be less and less conservation organisations present each year. Talks are increasingly dominated by these firms wrapping up a sales pitch in the guise of a picture heavy 20 minute lecture. I am not part of any birding social circle so I don’t get that benefit of the get together but I did go yesterday with the intention of purchasing optics. I was overtly mocked by infocus staff when I mentioned my budget to the point where I have complained (was closer to 4 figures than 3 so not ridiculous). Those talks which are genuinely focussed on a topic whether it be conservation or photography techniques etc. Are genuinely very good as are the events in the evening. The art tent is wonderful and can pick up reasonably priced prints as are the book stalls and the opportunity to get signings by many authors/celebs is great especially from those who have not completely commercialised themselves but the event itself I’m sorry to say each year feels more and more like a spending party for upper middle class baby boomers. If someone wants a celebration of birds or birdwatching or nature more widely they are far better served going to something like Spurn Migfest. I fear this year will be my last in regular attendance unless I happen to be in the area when it is on.

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    1. John P - it's a mixed bag but Bird Fair has changed significantly over the years. More slowly that I would like, but significant change.

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    2. John P:

      Yes, the Birdfair has changed in recent years for sure and that's why I returned to it. You don't have to visit the tour company stands but they generate revenue which helps fund the event. Optical companies are there to entice and I have to say I'm surprised that anyone would deride any budget available, so you are right to raise your concerns with the company. The best advertising is word of mouth and they now risk brand damage.

      For me the improvements have been the talks from 'extremist' folk like that chap Avery and his colleagues like Ruth Tingay and the poor beleaguered Chris Packham. Talks by well known conservationists (don't like the term celebrities) are good value when you look how many you can fit in, in a day. Any other time an NGO might charge you £15 - £30 for a single talk at one of their events. Authors have a Forum to promote their books and they are available to answer questions. Young conservationists can meet their heroes and mentors, they too get an opportunity to speak and have their voices heard.

      The talk on Honey Buzzards was excellent and there was no pressure to purchase anything, Steve Roberts was clearly passionate about this fabulous bird and keen to share this and encourage others to study the raptor. The Red Kite talk too, and the one on Ravens were also excellent. For non-birders then The Secret Life of Flies was fascinating with many little known but amazing facts thrown at an enthralled audience.

      It's also an opportunity to meet up with the network and I'm sorry you don't appear to see value in this.

      Funds raised benefit conservation projects but that's surely a positive thing?

      I'm from Yorkshire and they say we have short arms and deep pockets, but I think it's good value (tiring but worth the effort).

      Like Mark, I'd like to see it develop. I find the 'campaigning' aspects inspiring and generally go home feeling energised and keen to do more.

      If they were to cut back on trade stands, and clearly people must make use of them otherwise they would not attend, then would we as visitors be prepared to pay a higher entrance charge?

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      1. I do not do birdfair every year - but a fair few since I became a county bird recorder. I have no interest in tour/travel companies. Yesterday I got on site by 9.30, helped my friend with broken arm into her boots, then had to decide at 10am between 2 inspirational female speakers - Ruth Peacey or Amy Beer (why put two good things on at same time, especially if tryign to get mor efemale speakers!?). I chose the latter and was almost in tears at her talk. (Those who know me know that is an extremely unlikely thing to happen - hard nut northerner usually). It then took me another 50 minutes to clear marquee 3, having caught up withall the staff and ex-colleagues I have in name but rarely see face-to-face at British birds, BTO and Wildlife Trust. I failed to make it to a 2.30 talk I wanted to go to as I was still catching up with people I used to work with (OK, two were now a travel company but they used to work in the conservation sector in UK but fled before the cuts really started to bite!) and other wonderful organisations such as the Bird Observatories council who achieve great things with virtually nothing. I didnt even get to catch up with some of the charities I usually find time to chat with, before it was 4.30 and the need to support local produces such as From the notebook and Rutland charcuteries before the drive home......
        Without the fees that the travel companies pay, the charities would NOT get the chance to promote the work they do to those there who are interested.

        OK, its tsill predominantly middle-aged and white, but there were more non-white, younger faces there than I think I have ever seen before. Progress of sorts but the reality is that the middle-aged are the ones with the disposable income who can holiday ANYWHERE. I am white, middle aged and now middle class by residence and work (but of much more restricted roots).

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  3. I hope the Charlie interview goes well and he's made welcome. From what I've previously seen of him I hold little hope that his opinion will be changed in the slightest or that he will even listen to the evidence presented to him but the public debate is important. I know he is ultimately answerable to his shareholders so he's not going to make any public concessions which is a shame. Good luck to all involved and I hope the outcome is positive for everyone.

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  4. I agree Les, so many of Charlies' questions will be based on the untruths, half truths and ignorant myths that the "Field sports cabal" take as givens it could be both entertaining and funny.

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  5. Is the Charlie Jacoby interview being recorded/filmed Mark? If so where can we listen/watch it?

    Cant wait for the shooting community to get a chance to quash fake news stories and show the general public we are not evil which Chris et al would have people believe. I also hope sincerely some middle ground is found from both sides.

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    1. S - what a balanced comment. It will go out on the fieldsportstv channel and we have a copy too, and we have film of the whole event. I'm sure you will enjoy it all. Fair dos to Charlie for coming and asking the questions, at our invitation at the Bird Fair, which he wasn't allowed to ask at the Game Fair.

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  6. Les wallace, charitable is one thing you are not.In a previous lying rant at me you said I am a farmer,complete lie
    You said I could not work under conditions faced by vegetable workers in East anglia,complete lie I actually worked as farm labourer for seventeen years usually feeding outdoor cattle all weather's including the 1963 snows in the Peak District.Far worse conditions than those you referred to.
    You continually tell lie after lie about me without even noticing what I have done in my life which I have often put on Mark's blog right from his first ones on RSPB blog.
    Of course you probably do notice what I do and have done but it suits you to lie in rants about me.
    For some reason you enjoy telling lies and can only assume we should not believe anything you write on this evidence.

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    1. My goodness somebody got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning didn't they? You seem to have mistook me for some other person called Les Wallace, because that description bears no resemblance to me in attitude or past and current actions. Maybe a label you've fetched up for a personal demon. Your reactions against some of my and the other commentators views especially when even slightly critical of the farming community have been rather on the assertive side. Fair enough I can and will give as good as I get....is that the problem?

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      1. Les, me having different views is one thing.
        You lying about me is dispicable.
        Whatever causes you to do it.
        Jumping to the conclusion that I am a farmer and castigating me in the process would mean people reading your comment would believe it.Just one amongst about at least four cases you have told a lie to discredit me.
        You obviously dislike someone pointing out you lie to try and prove a point.

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  7. Dennis, I don't think that being mistaken for a farmer is something to be upset about but possibly I'm not fully understanding what has triggered your initial comment. I have to confess, as a comparative newcomer to this blog, that I had assumed you were probably a retired farmer purely on the content of some of your comments!

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    1. Sandra,nothing wrong with being a farmer or retired farmer.
      Over a period of time he has on various blogs told lies about various things about me to enhance his point of view to discredit me and there comes a time when I will not tolerate it.

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