|It doesn’t always pay to arrive early - a soggy start for these visitors as they wait to be checked in|
|Maybe the organisers might consider easing their no-entrance-before-9am policy to reduce queuing times and save visitors from a potential soaking|
|Waiting for the starting gun - volunteers at the entrance prepare for the big influx of visitors|
'SWIFTS CAN CHEER UP THE DREARIEST STREET'
|Swift - like a shark in the sky|
FIRST speaker of the 2016 birdfair was former gallery manager for the Tate Gallery, Edward Mayer, who has now retired in order to dedicate much of his time to speaking and campaigning on behalf of the Swift Conservation Trust.
Prior to his talk he revealed that, on arrival at Rutland Water, the sight of the queue had put the wind up him.
He confided: “I was concerned I would not be in time for my 9.30 start, so I slipped through a hole in the fence.”
Infectiously exuberant, Edward described some of the initiatives taking place in the UK, Germany and Switzerland to provide nest box homes on domestic and other buildings such as libraries and colleges.
|Edward Mayer - so many opportunities|
He told his audience: “There’s not a lot most of us can do about the population of stone curlews, or even curlews, but the swift is one bird we can certainly help.”
If local councils, housebuilding companies, churches and individual homeowners started to install nestboxes or swift bricks, then the population decline of swifts could be slowed or halted.
Edward enthused about how, such is their animation, that swifts overhead can “cheer up even the dreariest street”.
He decried some modern buildings which are applauded for being “green and eco” when in fact they are nothing of the kind.
Citing The Shard in London, he noted that it was useless to birds for either nesting or perching, and its reflective windows posed a collision hazard.
He added: “Instead of sitting inside watching ghastly TV, we should get out and enjoy the Nature all around us.”
More information from:
* Photo of swift: Jojo/WikimediaCommons
* Photo of The Shard: Colin/ WikimediaCommons
A GOOD YEAR FOR CORNCRAKES
|Corncrake - doing well in Outer Hebrides|
CRAIG Round, a professional birder and guide for the past 20 years, was excellent on the birdlife of the Outer Hebrides - particularly North and South Uist and Benbecula.
Apart from the wildlife, which includes otters, much of the magic is down to the serene landscape along with the ever-changing nature of the light and the sky.
Craig's illustrated talk sparkled with humour. Displaying an image of two sheep on a road, he joked:“The rush hour traffic can be a bit of a nightmare.“
The Outer Hebrides are a magnet for migrating birds both on their way north in spring and south in autumn
Species range from wheatear to little stint, sometimes resplendent in breeding plumage.
Purple sandpiper (heading south in late July and August) are a particular feature as (throughout summer) are the sounds and sights of drumming snipe.
Of the predominantly maritime species, skuas - Artic, great, long-tailed and pomarine - are a feature, especially if large numbers on passage come close to beaches.
“Sometimes you get between 60 and 80 long-taileds in front, behind and overhead,” enthused Craig. “It’s magical.”
Thanks to initiatives by the RSPB and resident crofters, corncrake numberss are increasing - and 2016 has again been a successful breeding year with up to 193 calling males.
This is a secretive species, but sometimes they can briefly be glimpsed running in the open.
“They’re very quick,“ said Craig. “Someone once described them as a cross between a ferret and a ginger rat!”
Despite their sturdy build, they are surprisingly strong and direct when airborne.
“They fly like waders,” continued Craig.
The calling males are famously noisy at night, and there are even tales of islanders throwing shoes through the window to try to shut them up!
The Outer Hebrides are also a good place to see birds of prey including hen harrier, golden eagle and white-tailed sea eagles(dubbed “flying barn doors” because of the 8ft wingspan of the female).
The occasional snowy owl may turn up in winter.
* More details about the Outer Hebrides are available at:
* Photo: Rachel Davies/ Flickr/ WikimediaCommons