Last night, I got back from my second ever Birdfair, feeling tired and a little bit depressed that I would have to wait a whole year for the next one.

I should probably give a quick description of the event, in case anyone has never been before. It is an annual fair held in August, and is bird-themed (with some other wildlife thrown in too).

There are stalls held by wildlife holiday companies, artists, conservation charities and camera and optic brands - you can test out all of the equipment too! There are also talks given all through the day at different marquees, from both celebrities and dedicated conservationists, on a variety of topics ranging from wildlife politics to photography and twitching.

For me, it started with an alarm going off at 5.00 and a 3 hour car journey up to Rutland.
I had volunteered to spend the first two days of the Birdfair helping the RSPB, but I didn't know exactly what my role entailed. But this was soon explained to me - I was signing up children to the Bug Safari and Pond Dipping walks that would take place at regular times throughout the day. Easier said than done; children were few and far between. This wasn't so much of a problem on Saturday and Sunday, but on Friday it was very difficult to muster enough families to make the walks viable.However, it did allow me to spend the quieter periods chatting to people.

This is the best thing about the Birdfair, in my opinion - catching up with friends that you haven’t seen in ages, and meeting a lot of new people with similar interests and enthusiasm.

The AFON meet-up at Birdfair

In my time off the stand, I went to some talks.
The Politics of Wildlife Protection in Britain was hosted by Mike Dilger and featured Mark Avery, Anneka Svenska, Dominic Dyer and Chris Luffingham. It highlighted some of the major issues in the politics wildlife protection, and how we can make the situation change.

Other highlights include the results from the Bird Photographer of the Year competition (which were ridiculously amazing - look at the photos online when they are put up), and Mike Dilger’s talk ‘So you want to be a Wildlife Presenter?’ which gave an insight into the life of a wildlife presenter.

Steve Backshall also made two appearances, and both were very entertaining and enjoyable.

I decided to join Dr Roger and Rosie Key on the final Bug Safari of the day, where Mike Dilger was accompanying the group! I had a lot of fun with the pooters, I'm not in the least ashamed to admit.
My personal favourite species I caught was the Thistle Gall Fly, which lays its eggs in the flowerheads of thistles, causing a gall to grow on the inside. The flies themselves have beautiful zebra-striped wings.

A picture of me and Nick Baker, courtesy of my sister

My experience ended with the prestigious role of bag-holder for Nick Baker, as he chose the winner of a competition, and a quick filmed interview as to why I love the Birdfair.

I said my final goodbyes and returned home, with a handful of signed books to keep me going until next year.  

James

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