Record numbers in the tens of thousands attended the 27th British Birdwatching Fair held at Rutland Water this weekend.
Known as the Birdwatchers’ Glastonbury, the annual event organised jointly by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and the RSPB was the ‘best ever’ this year, with thousands of nature enthusiasts from across the world venturing to the shores of Rutland Water.
Tim Appleton, Birdfair co-founder and organiser, said: “It was our best ever event. Absolutely amazing. On Friday we must have had more than 10,000 people attend on that day alone.”
The three day wildlife extravaganza, included more than 200 sessions with experts from across the world of nature conservation, including Birdfair favourites, broadcaster Bill Oddie, Martin Hughes-Games and Mike Dilger, Chris Packham, plus “The Urban Birder” David Lindo, and wildlife photographers Jonathan and Angela Scott.
Complimenting the fascinating talks and fun events, were hundreds of stands selling the latest wildlife watching gear, books, art, and eco-holidays.
For the first time this year, a music concert was held on Saturday evening, and received a great reception from the crowds. World class musicians, Craig Ogden, Gary Ryan and Milos Milivojevic, performed music from Vivaldi right through the centuries to George Harrison.
Also, new for this year was Cook Street, an exciting collaboration of artisan food operators selling an array of tasty dishes.
Mr Appleton said: “The produce tent was an absolute ball, they sold out of everything.”
Amongst all of the action, Birdfair was once again raising funds for important conservation work, and this year the event supported projects combating illegal killing of birds in the eastern Mediterranean.
Mr Appleton is feeling confident that this year’s event has raised millions of pounds, with the opportunity to top the £4m mark which has been raised over the past 27 years.
He said: “The Birdfair auction alone raised £24,600, so I’m confident that we will top the £4m mark.
“Birdfair raises an incredible amount of money for charity and brings millions into the local economy.”