For metal-heads, there’s ‘Rock in Rio’, for pop culture aficionados, there’s ‘Coachella’, for electro-heads, ‘Tomorrowland’, and for birders, there’s… the UK ‘Birdfair’. And, well, you may as well forget the rest, because Birdfair is where you really want to be, if you are into birds, nature, and anything in between.
Every third weekend of August for the last 30 years, no less, a part of Rutland Water Nature Reserve, near Leicester, UK, is transformed into a vibrant hub of thousands of people who come flocking to celebrate birds. From small beginnings, this event now hosts over 300 exhibitors from all over the world and welcomes more than 20,000 visitors. The Birdfair really does have something for everyone: from tour operators offering birding trips of a lifetime, to the biggest brands in optics and their latest gadgets, to artists and writers and their bird-inspired works, to conservation organisations, including BirdLife partners from across the globe, sharing their successes and challenges. And then, a whole repertoire of happenings, from talks, interviews, screenings, guided walks to ringing demos, complete this celebration, that has with good reason been christened the ‘Glastonbury of birdwatching’.
We are excited to participate at the Birdfair for the 5th year in a row to meet and speak with people about our work to protect the birds and nature of Cyprus. But more importantly, our attendance forms a key part of our effort to put an end to illegal bird killing. Every year, we set up our stall to promote the natural wealth of our beautiful island that makes it a unique tourist destination, ideal for birdwatching and nature exploration. Our goal is to draw as many birders as possible to our island, thus adding an economic value to the protection of our birds and countryside. What has become evident through our conversations over the years with people at the Birdfair is the deep affection, bordering on nostalgia, that many people hold Cyprus in. But then, there is a significant minority who have blacklisted our island because of the bird trapping problem. Understandable perhaps, but what we try to persuade people of, is the value of visiting and being seen to do so, for the sake of birds.
This year we will also be giving a talk, jointly with the RSPB Investigations team, highlighting the ground-breaking undercover work we’ve been doing to fight bird trapping. This has led to a dramatic reduction in trapping levels, which we aim to build on.
If you are in the UK, why not drop in? Find us at stand 39, marquee 1, come say hello and get to know us, learn about birding in Cyprus and the work that we do for Cyprus’ nature and its birds. Find out more about the Birdfair by visiting www.birdfair.org.uk
BirdLife Cyprus’ participation at the Birdfair 2018 is funded by the MAVA Foundation and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation.