17th August 2018
For my birthday this year, I finally attended the British Birdwatching Fair, more commonly known as Birdfair. The Fair was in its 30th year, so it was probably the biggest ever. This also gave me a chance to use my new Nikon D3400! As soon as I arrived, I was meeting many people who I knew from social media, and quite a few people came up to me and said 'Oh, you're Kabir! Keep up the good work!' How did they even know who I was???
Chris Packham at the Canon Theatre
I also met with many young birders from Birdcamp, and also from the London Young Birders meet up at Rainham. Afterwards, I stood outside the very crowded Canon Theatre, where Chris Packham was giving advice on photography skills, and showing photos of Emperor Penguins he took in the Antarctic. At the BTO Ringing Hut, there was a ringing demonstration, which I would go to quite a few times to throughout the week. I finally got to see a Treecreeper in the hand, (my second ever Treecreeper, the first being at my patch-that-was-to-be, St John's Wood Church Gardens) which Ben Rumsby released. This followed with a juvenile Blue Tit and a Reed Warbler, which I was lucky enough to release. By some coincidence, the only two birds I have ever released are both Reed Warblers!
Treecreeper in the hand
Treecreeper in the hand
Juvenile Blue Tit being ringed
Releasing a Reed Warbler
Afterwards, I went to a talk at the Wild Zone by Nick Baker, about pond dipping, from which I learnt a lot about the many plankton, beetle larvae and dragonfly nymphs which live in ponds, and he used a microscope to help see these pond-dwelling creatures in detail. I also got a few books signed by David Lindo, the Urban Birder, at Toby Carter, Molly Carter and Ben Moyes' stand, Wildsounds.
With Nick Baker
With David Lindo
At 5pm, I attended Would I Fly to You, where two teams, one led by Mike Dilger, the other led by Bill Oddie, showed how good famous naturalists were at identifying each other's truths and lies. By chance, I found Stephen Moss outside the Events Marquee, and told him I was the one who had spotted a mistake in one of his books, Tweet of the Day. Straight after that, I bumped into Mike Dilger, who I had written an article for in RSPB Nature's Home. It was amazing meeting them both!
With Stephen Moss
With Mike Dilger
In the evening, a question time on the state of nature took place, and motivating speeches were given by Chris Packham, Simon King, Kerry McCarthy and Mary Colwell. At the end, I was very fortunate enough to meet Chris Packham, and got my copy of Fingers in the Sparkle Jar signed.
With Chris Packham
18th August 2018
I ran to the Fair hurriedly in the morning, because I was about ten minutes late for David Lindo's Urban Birding talk, in which he introduced common urban birds, and where to see them. After the talk, I met Mark Avery at Wildsounds, who informed me about his petition to persuade the Icelandic government to ban whaling in the country.
With Mark Avery
Then, I headed to the BTO Ringing Hut, the meeting place for Toby's Young Birders Walk. There, I met many birders whom I knew from Birdcamp, as well as from social media and around Europe! We spent two hours in many hides across the reserve, but found hardly anything.
Lapwing and Ruff
The Young Birders
However, after the walk, Calum Mckellar and I decided to twitch the Red-necked Phalarope that had been found on the other side of the reserve. It was a 25-30 minute walk for us to get to the southernmost hide, the Goldeneye Hide, which was extremely crowded! Fortunately, one kind birder had a scope with him, from which I took some record shots of my most recent lifer:
After a successful twitch, I listened to the chair of the London Bird Club, Gehan de Silva Wijeyratne, talk about the 34 endemic bird species that live in Sri Lanka. After his talk, I realised that I had seen quite a few endemic species, such as the Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Junglefowl and the Red-backed Woodpecker when birding in the country three years ago.
With Gehan de Silva Wijeyratne
I then visited Rob Sheldon, chair of the Ornithological Society of the Midle East (OSME) on a query I had about seeing a rare Great White Pelican when birding in the UAE. Before the Fair closed for the day, I ran to the BTO Ringing Hut, where Lee Barber, who led the nest finding in Birdcamp, was leading the demonstration. Finally, I rushed to the Swarovski Tower, after hearing about an Osprey, another lifer!
Chiffchaff in the hand
Sedge Warbler in the hand
Sedge Warbler in the hand
Osprey at its nest
19th August 2018
Sunday was all about visiting stands, such as Spurn Obs, RSPB and A Focus On Nature, and going to talks. I said hello to many more people, and attended a talk by a panel young naturalists, who all spoke very articulately about the many issues we face today in wildlife conservation. I really enjoyed this year's Birdfair, and want to go next year!