Monday 24 November 2014

Martin Mere North-West Bird Watching Festival

This past weekend we attended the WWT Martin Mere Northwest Bird Watching Festival. We had so much enjoyed ourselves last year that we were determined to return and we were very glad we did. It was a terrific weekend and we met loads of really interesting and friendly people, most of whom were fairly local, so we would otherwise not get the chance to meet them perhaps.

Our stand at Martin Mere before the crowds arrived.

Among our fellow speakers were our old friend and Trustee David Lindo, Mike Dilger who we had the pleasure of meeting for the first time and Mark Avery who was gone before we had a chance to say hello. The other speaker was Nigel Jarrett from WWT Slimbridge who spoke about the captive breeding programme from the heart and with much passion. We also had the chance to have a bit of a chat with him during his busy day to hear how things were going down in Gloucestershire. Elis attended all the talks (except Mark's which she couldn't get into as it was sold out), which she enjoyed very much while I held the fort on the stand, which I enjoyed equally.

The charming and affable Nigel Jarrett in whose capable hands rest the fortunes of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper captive breeding programme, and a safer pair of hands you will not find.

We enjoyed seeing some old friends such as Duncan and Julian of Wildsounds in whose company we enjoyed a laugh filled evening along with Paul Hackett and John Macintosh of digiscoping fame. (Boy I wish I'd had that steak!) We were visited on the stand by old friend (old as in long term, not elderly) Alan McBride who despite tipping the odds with a major outlay was unsuccessful in winning the raffle.

Mike Dilger holding forth.

The raffle had first prize of a £100 voucher from Trailfinders the travel agents who organised most of our travel details when we did the world trips last year (seems like a lifetime ago now). This was won by Peter Hugo. Second prize was the book Facing Extinction which has been signed by Debbie Pain one of the authors was won by Gary Hynes an the third prize, the book Bird Identification was won by Debby Smith who was delighted with her prize but feared her other half would purloin it before very long!

David Lindo, The Urban Birder... likewise holding forth.

The raffle was drawn by a lovely young placement student at the WWT called Erin Madden, she, with a friend who preferred to remain anonymous, drew the winners and we had lengthy conversation about what she planned to do for her dissertation which she planned to do about Northern Lapwings. We wish her the very best of luck for the future as it is always a delight to see such young and enthusiastic people coming along behind to pick up the conservation mantle when we can no longer carry it. It makes everything that we are doing, which after all we are doing for future generations as well as for ourselves, all worthwhile.

Erin making the raffle draw.

We were very pleased with the interest that our stand attracted with a good number of sign-ups as sponsors and much interest in the Wader Quest Collectables merchandise. What was especially pleasing was that this year as many people had heard of us as had not unlike last year when very few knew who we were or what we were trying to achieve.

They say always save the best for last... but then they also say there is always an exception to every rule... oh well, 

Whooper and Mute Swans seen from the car on the way into Martin Mere each morning, a lovely sight.
Photo: Elis Simpson

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