Excitement all round – Birdfair 2015

For the past few years Birdfair has always been one of the highlights of my year. This year was particularly special after also being given some fantastic opportunities, which was very exciting!

Over the weekend, whenever I was on Twitter, I was seeing lots and lots of comments about Birdfair. Everyone seemed to be enjoying it greatly. That’s one fun aspect of the Birdfair, putting faces to the Twitter handles. Along with meeting new people, and chatting with old friends too. All are like-minded and very friendly. I’d love to name all the fantastic and inspirational people I met over my two days at the Birdfair but there was just too many!

I also thoroughly enjoyed looking around a lot of the marques and learning more about the work of different organisations, charities and so on. On a more serious note, it’s a great place where these orgs can network, join together in raising awareness, promote what they do and get more people involved. There’s always so much to do at the Birdfair, unfortunately I could only make Friday and Saturday so I didn’t get to do everything I planned to, like go out onto the reserve, but it’s top of my list for next year!

I was also taken back by all the excitement, and my nerves, for the two events I was involved with. The Friday evening event was brilliant! If you didn’t see it, myself and Josie Hewitt were compering the evening lecture with Chris Packham, Simon King and Nick Baker. They came out with some brilliant stories, which were very funny and entertaining. This was mixed with the second half consisting of some more serious stuff which was really interesting. Then just when I thought the evening event was all over, myself and Josie were presented with some Zeiss binoculars which was a massive surprise but nevertheless just amazing!

Once back at our digs, I got very little sleep after all the excitement. I was trying to decide if I was more looking forward to going out with my new bins for the first time or nervous for my talk the next day. I think it was a bit of both!

The next morning we went for a walk around and I met with some friends before heading to the Events Marque for my short talk with Chris Packham and two other young birders, Josie Hewitt and Connor Coombes. Josie was up first, she spoke about the great work she does, bird ringing and the science behind it. Then it was Connor who spoke about his photography and how he got into it all. Then I gave my talk which was about some of my campaigning work, getting people involved and involving young people. Then afterwards, Chris spoke and summed it all up.

It was definitely a fantastic experience and one I won’t forget! Plus it was the Birdfair which is always very enjoyable. A big thank you to Tina and Nigel who were backstage and calmed my nerves to some degree. Along with helping us prepare for the event, making it happen and much much more. As well as Chris who was brilliant and involved with giving us the opportunity to talk on Saturday, and the BTO too.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get many photos but I’m told that videos of the events will be put online so when they are I’ll post them!

Just days until Birdfair 2015!

Some of you may know that next Friday is the first day of the three day weekend of the Birdfair. I’ve been to the Birdfair quite a few times now and always enjoy it but this year is even more exciting!

On the Friday night myself and another young birder, Josie Hewitt, will be compering the celebrity lecture with the panel consisting of Chris Packham, Simon King and Nick Baker. If you haven’t booked your tickets for this then unfortunately you’re too late but if you have, see you there!

If you’re going to be there on the Saturday too then I’ll be giving a short talk as part of Chris Packham’s talk with two other young birders, Josie Hewitt and Connor Coombes. My part is all about some of my campaigning stuff, blogging and things I do in schools and with groups to encourage young children to enjoy the natural world around them. This will be on Saturday at 12pm in the Main Events marquee, there’s some more information about it here – http://www.birdfair.org.uk/events/the-bto-presents-chris-packham-and-the-young-birders/

It will also be great to have a look around and chat with some familiar faces. There’s no doubt it’ll be a brilliant weekend!

#Inglorious12th

People want upland wildlife to return. Us nature lovers, birders, walkers, the general public (if only they knew what goes on!), and us yoofs’ do too! Just look…

If you do anything today, please tweet with #inglorious12th. If you need some motivation, which I’m sure you don’t, then please read this – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/rspb-issue-appeal-for-information-after-hen-harrier-illegally-shot-dead-on-scottish-moor-10449819.html

United in a weekend for Hen Harriers

This weekend was superb. If you went to a Hen Harrier event you’ll know what I’m on about but if not then make sure you do next year! If I were to sum it up in five words, which is difficult, they would be very inspiring, exciting, lots of motivation, fervent and uplifting.

But why am I using such positive words to describe events which are about a depressing and serious matter? Well, when you hear a lot of negative stories, including the five Hen Harriers which disappeared (yeah, OK) this year, an event like this makes you feel incredibly positive as you see so many people joined together showing their support and feeling the same as yourself. Even though I knew all of these people existed and most of the country, a part from SOME, are and would (if only they knew about what goes on) be opposed and saddened by ongoings of wildlife crime everywhere including upon the upland moors, again it was very positive to be there, see it with my own eyes, and to see that change is definitely happening and that we will win.

Whether it’s the fact many species, including raptors, are being illegally persecuted to protect ones own interest, a bird of prey is being pushed to extinction,  habitats are being damaged or the burning is having a role to play with global warming and flooding, the activity of driven grouse shooting upon upland moors needs to end. This was a key message expressed by all of the speakers at the Hen Harrier events I went too. Along with this the fact that we’re right, we’re backed by science and we deserve justice.

If you’d read a few of my latest posts, follow me on Twitter or even saw me there yourself I spent my Hen Harrier Day up at the Goyt Valley near Buxton, Derbyshire.  As well as this I went along to the Hen Harrier Eve event at The Palace Hotel in Buxton on Saturday. 

When we arrived in Buxton on Saturday afternoon, whilst walking around waiting for the evening event to start, I bumped into quite a few people who were going. Either wearing their t-shirt or I knew who they were already. We even got sat next to two ladies going to the events when we went for something to eat along with some others at our B&B the following morning. Hen Harrier supporters had taken over Buxton!

But this was great! I often see this when I go on street marches, all the people passing by take an interest by what it says on their t-shirt or placard. This also had the same effect at the Goyt Valley when walkers, runners and cyclists passed, along with at the afternoon event in the Pavilion Gardens, Buxton. I heard quite a few people passing and muttering ‘what’s with the black t-shirts’ and so on.

Once at The Palace Hotel for the Hen Harrier Eve event it was great to have a chat with some old and new faces before the talks began. Overall there were a variety of things talked about by each speaker along with a variety of speakers.

First to speak was Mark Avery who was one of the organisers and introduced the evening. He has also had a massive impact on the fight to ban driven grouse shooting with the work he’s done, including his recent book Inglorious and the ban driven grouse shooting petition he set up again this year after last years success of it reaching over 10,000 signatures. So far this year the petition has over 11,000, you can sign it by clicking here.

He was followed by the other organiser, Susan Cross, and also Gordon MacLellan who presented some literature about the Peak District and Buxton, and also included context about Hen Harriers. After this the RSPB’s skydancer video was introduced by Amanda Miller and CEO RSPB Mike Clark said a few words about their hard work on helping the Hen Harrier. It was brilliant to have two people from the RSPB talk, along with Jeff Knot (RSPB) speak at Hen Harrier Day. As well as the RSPB, Jo Smith who is the CEO Derbyshire Wildlife Trust also spoke at the Hen Harrier Day event.

Next was Mark Cocker in conversation with Jeremy Deller. Jeremy Deller is a Turner Prize winner (2004) and has produced such art work as ‘A good day for cyclists’ which shows a massive Hen Harrier clutching a blood red Range Rover in its talons. Whilst in conversation with Mark Cocker he spoke about a lot of his work, including this piece, which was very interesting.

Jeremy Deller, the artist featured in the British pavilion, had one of the most talked about installations at the Venice Biennale preview, attended by critics, curators and collectors from around the world. Photo by mary Louise Schumacher

Then after the interval Mark Cocker gave his own talk. This was about birds of prey in culture across the world with references to his book. As well as Hen Harriers.

Next to speak was Findlay Wilde who said a few words about Hen Harriers before going on to how he made two new brilliant models. One was a grouse butt and another was a massive bottle of poison. With this he showed a video mash-up of how he did so with a sound track created by his younger brother, Harley.  He also announced how he’d persuaded Ecotricity to support satellite tagging of Hen Harriers next year.

Then there was another video mash-up about the adventures of Henry the Hen Harrier around the UK which was created by Phil Walton from Birders Against Wildlife Crime. If you don’t already follow Henry on Twitter then please do at @HenryHenHarrier.

Last, but one, to speak was Chris Packham who was superb and inspiring as usual. He spoke very passionately and expressed his anger of persecution of Hen Harriers, the huge decline of wildlife, Cecil the Lion and much more.

To finish of the evening of talks, there was a quick announcement from Charlie Moores (BAWC) about the exciting arrangements of the next day, Hen Harrier Day.

As I walked up to the venue of Hen Harrier Day at 10am the Hen Harrier thunderclap went out. This reached almost 5.7 million people which was just amazing, lets hope all those people took note of what they read. The thunderclap read…

The location of Hen Harrier Day, in Buxton, was perfect. As the speakers said what they wanted to say you could gaze over onto the moorland. When they spoke you could just picture their dream, and your dream, of what they want that area to look like one day. You could visualise the aim. Along with this, at this location Hen Harriers have been spotted here in the past.

However the image of what we’d all love the upland before us to look like was somewhat shattered and taken over by what it really looked like at that moment. Not a bird in sight, it looked dead and you could see the areas where it’s been burnt for intensive driven grouse shooting. But this brought no one down, in fact it gave more motivation. Along with the inspiring and wise words from those who spoke and being surrounded by those who care immensely.

Speaking at the event was Charlie Moores, Mark Avery, Chris Packham, Jeff Knot (RSPB) and Jo Smith (The Wildlife Trust). The talks started about 11am and ended just before 1pm. Then after that many still gathered, chatted and after a while some headed down to Buxton Pavilion Gardens as there were a few stalls, along with lots of interest from people passing by.

As I’ve mentioned, and you can probably tell, it was a fantastic weekend as I’m sure were all the other events happening around the country and I look forward to next year. It feels very odd today after such an exciting weekend! But also on a more serious note, lets hope yesterday made an actual difference and this continues as we won’t be stopping until it does.

Here’s another tweet from Birders Against Wildlife Crime which sums it all up very nicely.

Here are some photos from the weekend.

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