The coronavirus pandemic has put paid to live events in 2020 but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy everything Birdfair traditionally stages at its home on the Rutland Water Nature Reserve, only online.
The experiences on offer at Virtual Birdfair 2020 include top-class lectures and debates, a gallery of wildlife art and the chance to browse a long list of Virtual Birdfair 2020 exhibitors.
Book your next birding holiday, choose some optical equipment or a specialist book, and support your favourite wildlife organisation. You can do all of it online from August 18.
All the fun of the real-life Birdfair is there – just virtually!
Of course, many of the Blue Sky Wildlife specialist birding tour operators are exhibitors at Virtual Birdfair 2020, so to help you find your way round the online Fair we have put together a handy guide to those must-see local wildlife travel specialists.
Inglorious Bustards – Spain
Niki Williamson and Simon Tonkin will be at the Virtual Birdfair 2020. This will be their fourth time of exhibiting, albeit in a slightly different way this year. If you are seeking a Spanish birding and wildlife tour with a difference, Inglorious Bustards is passionate about birds and wildlife, and equally passionate about showing birders chilled-out birding adventures fused with relaxation, fun, local culture and delicious food. Niki and Simon are also very active conservationists.
Day trips from €60 or multiday tours from €860 per person for four days. More info.
Photo credit: Simon Tonkin, Inglorious Bustards
Birding in Portugal – Portugal
Wildlife tours in southern Portugal organised by this family business of 33 years’ standing. Stays are arranged in the company’s own small hotel on the shores of a large lake that’s off the beaten track. Professionally run but informal, with a personal touch and good home cooking Birding in Portugal offers a relaxing stay in beautiful surroundings and expert local guiding.
Prices from €980 per person for 8 days. More info.
Photo credit: Frank McClintock, Birding in Portugal, Crested Tit
Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris – South Africa
This specialist South and East African company celebrates 30 years of wildlife guiding this September. As well as set departure birding, wildlife watching and photography trips with trusted local guides, Lawson’s offers custom safaris for couples, families and small groups. The company prides itself on its professionalism and attention to details.
Prices start from ZAR 30,700 for a 9-day custom tour. More info.
Photo credit: Leon Marais, Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris, Cape Sugarbird
Bellbird Birding Tours – Australia
Bellbird has more than 20 years’ experience leading small-group wildlife watching tours throughout Australia. It offers scheduled departure trips as well as specifically tailored ones. And for those who have a special interest it offers tours that focus on raptors, Australian parrots and grasswrens, plus botanical, butterflies, dragonflies and photography – whatever is on your wish-list for this fascinating continent.
From AUD 1,999 for a two-day custom birding tour. More info.
Photo credit: Peter Waanders, Bellbird Birding Tours, Scarlet-chested Parrot
Yorkshire Coast Nature – England
Steve Race and Richard Baines from Yorkshire Coast Nature, lead a nature tourism company dedicated to unique wildlife encounters in Yorkshire and beyond. Their local professional guides lead safaris, photography workshops and the very best nature holidays in England. These include whale watching, getting up close and personal with 200,000 seabirds, rare birds of prey, butterflies, reptiles and flowers.
Half-day trips from £35, day trips from £60, and multiday tours from £435 per person. More info.
Photo credit: Steve Race, Yorkshire Coast Nature, Puffins
Iberian Lynx Land – Spain
Iberian Lynx Land is a young Spanish nature tourism company grown out of driving enthusiasm and solid local knowledge by Jose Luis Sánchez Balsera. The company is based in the province of Jaen in the north of Andalusia – the greenest of Spain’s provinces with a third of its territory designated as protected natural space. The area is rightfully regarded as the unsung hero of Spanish nature.
Multiday tours from € 799 per person for five days. More info.
Photo credit: Iberian Lynx Land, Iberian Lynx
Manakin Nature Tours – Colombia
Manakin Nature Tours is one of the leading tour operators in Colombia with over 95 nature locations and 30 different routes to enjoy. Travel with the company’s specialist guides to amazing Colombian locations such as the Andes, the Choco, the Santa Marta Mountains and Magdalena Valley. Explore the Amazon, Caribbean and Pacific coastal routes and as far away as the Eastern Plains.
Pricing normally from USD 3,920 per person for 14 days. More info.
Photo credit: Manakin Nature Tours, Crested Ant-Tanager
Borneo Eco Tours – Malaysia
Borneo Eco Tours (BET) is an award-winning, low-impact tour company that specialises in nature-based tours around Borneo. BET has been creating and providing memorable ecotours in Sarah for almost 30 years. It understands the birdwatching market well and concentrates on providing a quality avian experience with particular attention paid to finding endemics.
Day trips from MYR 230 and multiday tours from MYR 598 per person. More info.
Photo credit: Borneo Eco Tours, Proboscis Monkey
All India Birding Tours – India
With 20 years’ experience, All India Birding Tours can arrange effortless wildlife trips to some of the country’s birding hotspots – from the most popular to the lesser known. The team has an intimate knowledge of the country’s wildlife in a wide variety of regions and can organise a tour efficiently and at reasonable cost.
Prices begin at INR 114,375 for 16 days in south India and the Andaman Islands. More info.
Photo credit: Peter Lobo, All India Birding Tours, Fire-tailed Myzornis
Tabin Wildlife Resort – Malaysia
Tabin Wildlife Reserve is the largest Wildlife Reserve in Malaysia with its 300,000 acres of Dipterocarp rainforest, which is home to extraordinary biodiversity. The Tabin Wildlife reserve is a dedicated ground for the breeding of wild mammals and birdlife, including the highly endangered Sumatran Rhino, Borneo Pygmy elephant, and the Tembadau.
Multiday tours from MYR 2,650 per person for three days. More info.
Photo credit: Tabin Wildlife Resort, White-crowned-Shama
Virtual Birdfair’s Fundraising Project: Helmeted Hornbill
Every year the proceeds of Birdfair go towards a conservation effort identified by Birdlife International. Projects the money has supported in the past have included the protection of Madagascar’s unique forests, the preservation of the world’s migration flyways and the training of young conservation leaders.
This year, the donations will go to a project to stop the poaching and trade in the Critically Endangered Helmeted Hornbill. There will also be support for those fighting the illegal bird trade in general in Asia.
Photo credit: Christina Lam, Borneo Nature Tours, Helmeted Hornbill
The Helmeted Hornbill has been hunted to near-extinction in Kalimantan and Sumatra. The growing fear is that large-scale poaching will spread to the bird’s other South East Asian habitats in Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. The reason this species of hornbill is hunted is to harvest its unique casque at the top of its bill. This is solid, weighs as much as 3kg and is used by the birds in fights with rival males.
Sadly, these casques are much prized by collectors and are also used to make carved ornaments and jewellery. One casque can fetch as much as USD 1,000, which is why trade in them has been taken over by organised crime networks that supply the black market in China.
Funds raised from Virtual Birdfair 2020 will go towards identifying the Helmeted Hornbill’s strongholds across its five range countries. They will also help secure the most important sites by engaging with local communities and organising monitoring and anti-poaching protection for the birds.
Overall, the profile of this endangered hornbill species is being raised worldwide. Birdlife is working with governments and other conservation organisations to eliminate the trade in its bills and save it from extinction.
To read more or donate, go to virtual.birdfair.org.uk
Far South Expeditions – Chile
Far South Expeditions is another of the Virtual Birdfair 2020 exhibitors. This is a small and local tour business based in Patagonia, with offices located at Punta Arenas, Chile’s most southerly city. The company was founded by Enrique Couve and Claudio F Vidal, who are two of Chile’s foremost naturalists. Since 1997, they have been specialising in offering birding, wildlife and nature expeditions for small groups and individuals.
Multiday tours start from USD 2,298 per person for six days. More info.
Photo credit: Claudio F Vidal, Far South Expeditions, King Penguins
Borneo Nature Tours – Malaysia
Borneo Nature Tours is based in Sabah and operates the award-winning Borneo Rainforest Lodge, as well as offering wildlife tours and adventure treks. Explore the Danum Valley Conservation Area and the Maliau Basin Conservation Area for a potential 340 bird species and 120 mammals. This is a chance to see undisturbed rainforest flora and fauna – the hidden side of Sabah.
Tours starting from MYR 7,751 per person for four days. More info.
Photo credit: Christina Lam, Borneo Nature Tours, Bended Pitta
Wild Herzegovina – Bosnia and Herzegovina
This UK-based company offers wildlife watching tours in one of the most unspoilt areas of Europe. Guided trips run every day from the comfortable accommodation in Mostar to a variety of interesting species-rich habitats. They are conducted at a leisurely pace that allows time for photography and detailed observation and incorporates gentle walks and frequent breaks.
Prices start at GBP 1,295 for eight days. More info.
Photo credit: Denis Bohm, Wild Herzegovina, Syrian Woodpecker
Costa Rica Birding – Costa Rica
Also on the list of Virtual Birdfair 2020 exhibitors, Costa Rica Birding provides bespoke birdwatching holidays during which you can also sample the country’s gastronomical delights and its unique culture. The company actively runs and supports conservation projects aimed at protecting Harpy Eagles, Great Green Macaws and Resplendent Quetzals, and protecting migration routes for Scarlet Macaws and Tapirs.
Tours range from one to four weeks with a sample price of USD 3,500 per person for eight days. More info.
Photo credit: Costa Rica Birding, Keel-billed Toucan
Virtual Birdfair 2020 Information
For more on Virtual Birdfair 2020, including viewing times for lectures and workshops, other family activities and a full list of Virtual Birdfair 2020 exhibitors, visit virtual.birdfair.org.uk