British Bird Fair, Rutland Water, August 2008

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

“Excuse me, can you tell us why there are so many cars here”? The bewildered couple were getting out of their van expecting a quiet stroll around Rutland Water bird watching. But they had chosen the very weekend that thousands of exhibitors and people descend on the place for the British Bird Fair.
It’s the biggest, best exhibition for twitchers and anyone interested in bird watching. Taking place every year at Rutland water there is something for everyone. Thinking of buying a new ‘scope? Maybe investing in a tripod or a camera? Planning a bird watching holiday? This is the place to find out and talk to people who love their work. Ideally placed on the edge of the RSPB Reserve there are plenty of subjects to test out those cameras and telescopes. I jostled my way to the front of the crowds trying out the new HD leica binoculars. Have you noticed that everything is HD these days? I might rename my blog – The Ravenous HD Rambler! We moved on to the Canon stall where we tried out a lens so big that they would make the paparazzi jealous.
There were several marquees each dedicated to different aspects of birding. There was the art tent, the holidays tent, the optics tent and so on. But that could wait, we needed a bacon sandwich and coffee at the refreshment tent! Anyway, people watching is all part of the fun and there are interesting types here at the show. Some are so dedicated to birding that they walk round with their bins round their necks in case a lesser whitethroat should pass by.
Suitably refreshed we headed to the stands. The technique to really enjoy yourself is to talk to as many people as possible and maybe ask for some freebies! They are all friendly and keen to persuade you to accompany them to perhaps central Panama to take tea in an observatory and tick off all the species that you might find. As we went round, we kept an eye open for celebrities. Bill Oddie – the British TV guru of birdwatchers walked past chatting away merrily. Simon King – another TV great was on his own stand signing autographs and generally being available so we took the opportunity to shake his hand and ask him if he was supporting ‘Survival International’ (for the Kalahari Bushmen). I am sorry to report he wasn’t.
There are many gadgets to look at and I was tempted by the RememBird device for recording and listening to bird calls in the field. I shall write a separate blog about this though.
The camera stands are excellent as it is such a good opportunity to try out kit and get advice. We weighed up all the tripod options and bought the Manfrotto 190CXPro3. A useful thing for any camera mad rambler as it is light weight but sturdy and the arm folds over so you can get down low.
So we have come away with lots of ideas – Costa Rica, Uganda, Panama, Orkney and Skomer. Maybe see you in a hide somewhere – you will recognise me with my impressive tripod!


One Response

  1. […] what you need to ‘remember bird’ calls. I was thrilled to find this new invention at the British Bird Fair this year. It is a small device that is easy to hand hold but can fit with velcro attachments to […]

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