My third year at Birdfair didn’t disappoint.

Birdfair or the “Glastonbury” for Birders as its known by some is crammed full of interesting debates, stalls and the fact it is on the wonderful reserve at Rutland Water is a bonus. If you want to book a bird watching tour to a distant part of the world or learn about ecotourism in Kenya then you are in the right place. However, there is more to Birdfair than this and you need to take a good look at its extensive programme to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Our Director of Investigations Martin Sims gave a talk on the Hunting Act on Friday morning to around 80 people in one of the lecture theatres; apparently this was a record attendance for this time slot. The presentation covered the challenges faced by those that seek to prosecute hunts, the loopholes in the law and how they are exploited by wildlife criminals. Martin then spent two days on the PAW stand with fellow member of PAW Craig Fellowes. 

Martin Sims, the Leagues Director of Investigations, at Birdfair 2018

Friday evening saw the first ever “State of Nature” Question Time debate with panellists, Chris Packham, Simon King, Patrick Barkham, Mary Colwell, Kerry McCarthy MP, Craig Bennet and Mark Cocker chaired by Dominic Dyer. It was a very interesting evening but one point raised from the floor by Helen Benyon, of National Dis-Trust, was of great interest to me - the issue of National Trust issuing licences to hunts on their lands. The impression I got from the panel was that they agreed hunting under the guise of trail hunting had no place on National Trust lands.

Chris Packham said:

“There is no place for fox hunting and killing animals for sport in the 21st century”

The audience responded with a huge round of applause and a cheer from me of course. Birdfair is starting to recognise the importance of bringing young people into the debate; they are our future. It was good to watch two very different debates with the next generation on Saturday and Sunday in the newly created “Wild Zone”.

On Sunday the speakers were aged from 15 years old and spoke with such confidence and knowledge it was outstanding. 15-year-old Alex White even has a book out next year on getting out and connecting with nature called “Get Your Boots On”. I can’t wait to read it. It gives you hope that the future of conservation may be in safe hands after all!

As for the League, we will definitely be back at Birdfair 2019, bigger and better and raising even more awareness! Make sure you check out Birdfair in 2019. It's bound to be good!