BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 16 Aug '19

Join Chris Packham, Deborah Meaden, Tony Juniper and many others this weekend at the UK’s biggest wildlife event

Birdfair (Friday 16 to Sunday 18 August) in Rutland is gearing up to address some of the big issues of the day, including climate change and wildlife decline.

Tonight, join Chris Packham, Carrie Symonds, Deborah Meaden, Hannah Stitfall, Isabella Tree, Philip Lymbery and Tony Juniper for a Question Time session looking at the current state of wildlife, chaired by Dominic Dyer. Simon King’s talk on living lighter will look at how we can change the world one step at a time. 

On Saturday (17 August), Birdfair will be packed with opportunities for visitors to discover how to take the first steps in a range of careers.

You’ll hear how a range of passionate conservationists – including broadcasters Mike Dilger and Mary Colwell, got started – and get the chance to chat to young conservationists in a variety of roles in career speed-dating sessions.

Also on Saturday, Chris Packham, Dr Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay will be interviewed on stage by Charlie Jacoby from the Fieldsports Channel on the issues surrounding General Licenses.

Wildlife cruises

Birdfair visitors can also look forward to fun quiz sessions in the form of Would I Fly To You and Bird Brain of Britain, hosted by Stephen Moss, plus Iolo Williams’ talk on ‘Life before Telly’ and Angie and Jonathan Scott’s Big Cat Tales.

Other treats in store include Birdfair’s ever-popular wildlife cruises on Rutland Water, the Bird Photographer of the Year Awards with Chris Packham, local food market and for young families a production of The Lion King! In 2019 Birdfair will welcome 45 new exhibitors, and new hand-picked caterers at the ‘Nourish and Flourish Hub’.

‘There’s really something for everyone this year. Whether you’re a Birdfair regular or a first time visitor, this is going to be a fantastic three days. And it’s worth remembering that everyone visiting is making a real difference by contributing towards wildlife conservation projects.’

TIM APPLETON
Birdfair founder and manager

Funds for conservation

Each year Birdfair raises vital funds for conservation across the planet, through entry ticket sales and a charity auction.

This year’s event will fundraise for BirdLife International’s ‘Conserving Cambodia’s Big Five’ project. This project will benefit Western Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary, a forest in the Mekong basin that stretches across the border between Cambodia and Laos.

The site is notable for its unusually high concentration of Critically Endangered species; five in total, including the towering giant ibis and white-shouldered Ibis, and three declining vulture species: white-rumped, slender-billed and red-headed.

This globally important site is in dire need of protection to protect its habitat from threats such as unsustainable hunting and deforestation; this year’s project will help secure its future by scaling up existing work with local farmers to develop eco-friendly practices that will improve the fortunes both of the site’s wildlife and those who live on its borders.

David Attenborough and African drumming

The World Land Trust (WLT) is sponsoring the Main Events marquee, and the WLT stand will host book signings with authors including Simon Barnes and Chris Packham.

On Saturday night (19.30-22.00), an evening event – Saving Land, Saving Species – will celebrate the first 30 years of the World Land Trust in exclusive film premier that will cover three decades of conservation in Sir David Attenborough’s own words.

Nick Baker and Bill Oddie will champion two of their favourite wild places and Simon Barnes will delve into the WLT’s latest project to save Kenya’s threatened coastal forest – home of the endangered Clarke’s Weaver.

Adela Espinosa and Gloria Waswa will tell us about the projects they are working with in Ecuador and Kenya.

We will also hear from Simon Watt – founder of the Ugly Animal Preservation Society and keen supporter of World Land Trust – about the small things that matter.

The evening will end with traditional African drumming music performed by African Activities, and a little music to dance to should you feel like it!

WLT lectures

Six WLT lectures will take place at Birdfair 2019:

FRIDAY 16 AUGUST

Osprey, 10.30-10.50
Adela Espinosa & Antonio Paez: 21 years of conservation success in Ecuador

Harrier, 15.30-15.50
Christopher Hodgson: Around the World in 80 Birds

SATURDAY 17 AUGUST

Osprey, 10.30-10.50
Gloria Waswa: Conserving Kenya’s critical sites and species

Harrier, 10.30-10.50
Adela Espinosa & Antonio Paez: 21 years of conservation success in Ecuador

SUNDAY 18 AUGUST

Osprey, 13.30-13.50
Gloria Waswa: Conserving Kenya’s critical sites and species

Merlin, 12.00-12.20
Dan Bradbury: Belize, around the world, and back to Belize

Birdfair is jointly promoted by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and the RSPB.
The event is held at Rutland Water Nature Reserve, which is cared for by Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust in partnership with Anglian Water. A spectacular wetland, it provides one of the most important wildfowl sanctuaries in the UK, regularly holding in excess of 25,000 waterfowl.

The Birdfair entry ticket covers all the daytime events: separate tickets can be purchased for evening events and cruises. Parking for Birdfair is free of charge.