BirdFair 2016 – Wildlife Crime, The Hen Harrier & Rewilding

BirdFair is the largest bird and wildlife fair in the WORLD! Started humbly 27 years ago over a drink in a pub between passionate birders Tim Appleton and Martin Davies, it has flourished into a haven for bird and wildlife lovers, attracting thousands of people from various countries to come and network, to sell wildlife products and to listen to the many celebrity expert speakers on subjects such as bird conservation and environmental issues. One thing it isn’t is small, hosting a multitude of tents over many, many acres, overlooking the spectacular Rutland Water Reserve. It also hosts celebrity wildlife cruises and you’ll be guaranteed to see all your favourite natural history presenters at this event.
Chris Packham Anneka Svenska Rewilding Britain BirdFair

This year, I focused in on the Wildlife Crime lecture, The Hen Harrier Debate and The Rewilding evening event. All these subjects are passionate to me and I spend my life trying to play a small part in trying to help put an end to wildlife crime, stop raptor persecution and to push towards a more natural Britain with species and a landscape from days gone by, so I was chuffed to see them all listed on the programme.
Wildlife Crime BirdFair Mike Dilger Anneka Svenska Dominic DyerOn the Friday, TV Presenter Mike Dilger from BBC’s One Show hosted a talk on Wildlife Crime alongside fellow campaigner Dominic Dyer of The Badger Trust and Charlie Moores of Birders Against Wildlife Crime. The debate was eagerly anticipated by the crowds and the tent was packed right out of the rear of the marquee, showing that the public are curious and eager to know how to help in this area. Cheers resounded from the crowds as the passionate trio put their points across. I really do hope that BirdFair continues down this excellent line of lectures for next year. After the talk, I caught up with Mike Dilger and Dominic Dyer to discuss the talk and the release of Dominic’s new book ‘Badgered to Death’, endorsed by Chris Packham. Please click below to watch:

After this excellent debate, BirdFair covered Hen Harrier persecution and whether grouse shooting destroys the environment. Involving Dr Mark Avery, Natalie Bennett of the Green Party, Stuart Housden of the RSPB and the opposition by gamekeeper Simon Leicester. This was eagerly attended too and crowds spilled outside the tent. I stopped by with TV presenter Nigel Marven, who had done an excellent talk on the link between dinosaurs and birds, to support the Hen Harriers alongside Henry the Hen Harrier and film maker Ruth Peasey –  if you would like to find out why grouse shooting is playing a huge role in destroying the British countryside, please stop by this page and please sign the petition while you are there:
Nigel Marven Anneka Svenska Chris Packham Hen Harriers BirdFair

Later on Day 1, there was a spectacular rewilding talk hosted by the fantastic champion of wildlife Chris Packham who had spent the day touting the Hen Harrier petition sign around BirdFair. The talk involved rewilding expert Derek Gow who is extremely experienced in rewilding individual species and Helen Meech, head of Rewilding Britain. I caught up with Helen and Chris prior to the debate to talk about rewilding and how imminent it was in Britain. To watch please click below:

The actual talk went down a storm and the powerful and passionate Derek Gow commanded the stage with his knowledge and drive for the rewilding process. He brought home what is and was is not possible in the short and long term, as Helen Meech encouraged small communities and individuals to start rewilding their land, villages and gardens as a side line to the larger projects in development.
Chris Packham Anneka Svenska Rewilding Britain

Later on the Saturday, Chris Packham shared the stage with young campaigner Georgia Locock who is a great voice for the younger generation of naturalists and those who want to put a stop to wildlife crime. They discussed Chris’s book ‘Fingers in the Sparkle Jar’ and why those often immersed in wildlife fascination as a youngster, often are shunned by their colleagues for perhaps being a bit geeky and unusual. Chris was very encouraging to the youngsters and I loved to see this, as they are our heroes of tomorrow.
georgia small

To find out more about BirdFair, visit their website here:
Chris Packham Anneka Svenska Rewilding Britain BirdFair