A great weekend at BirdFair 2012

A successful BirdFair over , I have finally got around to sitting down, uploading some photos and getting down in my blog a little more about the BirdFair experience!

I have built a page on my website as well and that can be seen HERE .

I arrived at Rutland on the Thursday, after waiting anxiously for my daughter’s AS results! Thank goodness, she did really well, so I set off happy in the knowledge that she was celebrating that evening and not drowning her sorrows!

I had been to G-Scapes in Lichfield on the Wednesday and picked up a selection of plants for my stand. G-Scapes are my local garden centre and plant nursery and lent me all the plants for my stand at Gardeners’ World Live too. The car was soon loaded to the roof with these plants and an array of other bird feeders and a selection of logs, a hedgehog box and lots of moss to try to create a small representation of my patch in the space available.

Bushnell have exhibited at BirdFair for many years, so are well practised at getting their stand built and organised. When I arrived, the main stand was just about built and my corner was ready for me to transform. Luckily, I had been able to park quite close to the stand so it was not long before I had transported all my ‘ingredients’ and I was ready to start ‘KreATEing’….



I decided to try to use the frame of the stand to hang the feeders, but I needed to make it look more ‘rustic’. I went on a hunt around the site to find some branches and twigs suitable to create artificial perches, just like I do in the garden. I cable-tied a selection of branches to the frame and hung the feeders from there. Using the plants and some boxes to create different heights, I arranged them around the base and ‘dressed’ them with moss to make it look more attractive. Incorporating a log pile and a hedgehog box  in as well, I then strapped the trail cam on, as I might at home, to capture the action.

It took me about an hour to create my mini WildlifeKate Patch…..








Out of all of the marquees, this Optics Marquee is the best to be in! It is open all along one side and looks out onto the water… a truly stunning view as the weather was spectacular for the weekend. Stunning early morning views of terns diving for their breakfast and coots feeding hungry youngsters and about 60 pairs of Bushnell binoculars to look through! The weather was a little too lovely though… with temperatures in the marquee reaching over 90 degrees on Sunday. In some of the enclosed marquees the wet ground and high temperatures meant that the atmosphere in there was reminiscent of a tropical rain forest! I felt sorry for the exhibitors that were in these enclosed spaces.


One of the greatest things about events like this is you get the chance to meet so many wildlife enthusiasts! I love chatting (as anyone who knows me will confirm!) so it is a great opportunity for me to meet some Twitter friends… old and new and also it was lovely to meet up with some of the many who regularly follow my website. I had lots of people recognising me from Springwatch and coming to chat about projects that they have done in their own patch. One of the things I get most pleasure from is inspiring the new, younger generation of wildlife enthusiasts. This BirdFair I got to meet  some really special youngsters!

Jayde is a super young lady, who’s enthusiasm  for wildlife reminds me of myself at her age. We have been talking on Twitter for a while and she has written some great blog posts for Wildlife Whisperer. She came to meet me on the stand along with her whole family. We all had a great chat and it was so good to finally meet Jayde and be able to talk to her face to face. Her family had decided to take their holiday up by Rutland after deciding to come to the BirdFair for the first time and it sounded like they were making the most of the whole experience, having been on the cruise and to lots of the talks and events. I know Jayde and I are going to keep in touch and I always look forward to watching her develop her love of the natural world.


I also met another young person on my stand, this time one who I had not spoken to. Toby saw my footage on Springwatch and has been following what I do ever since. Toby is just ten years old and, once again, has that passion for natural history that is just so fantastic to see! We chatted for ages and Toby quizzed me about all the things I do in my garden, avidly taking it all in and thinking how he could achieve similar things in his patch at home. He told me all about all the different feeders he has and about all the species he has been able to attract to his garden. Much of my current love of the natural world stemmed from feeding the birds in my garden in South East London as a child and this is such a brilliant way in for children!


I encouraged Toby to start his own blog…. a great way for him to start documenting what he is seeing and the projects he is undertaking and, speaking as a teacher, it is also a fantastic way to get children to start developing their literacy skills. The wonders of the Internet means also that he can share his projects and his ‘patch’ with other enthusiasts and that is the incentive to write… blogging is a great way to encourage young people (particularly boys) to write, so come on Toby…. I am waiting to read about all your feeders and to see what wildlife you are attracting!

It was good to see lots families at BirdFair this year and to see so many young people with binoculars and DSLRs around their neck! Technology has moved on so much and photography, blogging, wildlife apps, movies, editing etc enable a technology obsessed generation to interact and share their experiences in a way simply not possible when I was a child. Education is fundamentally what I am all about… inspiring the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts… whether they be 5 or 95… it is never too late to get a bird feeder up in your garden or to take the whisk in your kitchen drawer and fill it with nesting materials in the spring… simple projects that can be the light the flame of wildlife interest….. and it is many of my simplist ideas that have captured people the most! I have lost count of how many times people have commented on my sieves feeders and I would like to think there are many households around the country who have rooted through the cutlery drawer looking for potential implements!


Many great celebrities visit BirdFair as well, giving talks, running workshops and sharing their expertise and knowledge and it is a great place for ‘star spotting’ ! I have been lucky enough to meet some of the many wildlife enthusiasts and experts over the last year and it was great to have Mike Dilger and Nick Baker come to my part of the stand this year to see me and have a chat. Mike’s new book ‘My Garden and other animals’ was selling well and Nick’s Live Pond Dip was really interesting, even if some of the technology failed meaning he couldn’t use his rather special digital Zeiss microscope!  My position, next to the Zeiss stand also meant I was able to listen to Simon King’s great talk all about getting the most out of your binoculars! 

Before I knew it, we were heading toward the last day and , as I packed up and headed out on Saturday evening, a small group was gathering near some willow herb. Stopping to see what was going on, I discovered that all these people were taking a look at a rather large elephant hawk moth caterpillar! Crowds of people queuing up to take a picture of this particularly impressive larva as it happily munched through the tender leaves, oblivious to the interest it had generated… I have never seen one before and managed a rather hasty snap before moving on.


One of the volunteers also said that he had found a privet hawk moth that morning on a gate post and moved it onto a tree… would we like to see that as well? A huge group of ‘followers’ then followed the paths around the site, where we were treated to a great view of this spectacular moth, still on the tree, where it had been moved to safety earlier that morning. Again, an orderly queue formed and we all took a quick picture…..


Just so wonderful to see such a large group of people, of all ages, completely captivated by the site of a caterpillar and a moth…. fantastic!!!

The final day of Birdfair dawned still and calm, with the clear skies promising a scorcher…… and it certainly was! Our open-sided marquee reached ninety degrees! A highlight for us was when a special certificate arrived… we had been awarded the ‘bronze’ award for  Best Commercial Stand! 


This was a great way to finish what has been a super show. A big thanks to the guys from JJVickers and Bushnell and to all those who came to visit and chat to me on my stand! It was wonderful to meet so many great people and to hear about how they are doing their bit for wildlife in their patch.

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