The UK’s annual gathering of birdwatchers, conservationists, and wildlife tour operators from around the world returns between 15 and 17 July 2022, as Global Birdfair gears up for a fantastic weekend of exhibits, talks, workshops and entertainment.
This year based at the Rutland Showground in the town of Oakham in the British Midlands, Global Birdfair is a re-birth of the famous British Birdwatching Fair, post-Covid. The event brings together in one place a community of nature lovers, wildlife watching equipment suppliers and specialist tour organisers. It is a chance to enjoy thought-provoking speakers, hear about conservation success stories, explore wildlife holiday options and browse a range of clothing, accessories and optical instruments that will enhance your experiences watching the natural world.
Global Birdfair’s Commitment to Conservation
However, not only will Global Birdfair entertain and inform more than 15,000 visitors over the July weekend, its reach and influence will extend far into the future, as the money raised at the event will be given to its 2022 Conservation Project, Reviving La Janda. This natural and farmed rice paddy flood plain in southern Spain was once a mosaic of habitats and one of the most important birdwatching areas in the Iberian Peninsula.
Video Credit: Asociación de Amigos de la Laguna de la Janda, The Flamingos of La Laguna de la Janda
La Janda is strategically placed near the Straits of Gibraltar and used to feature the largest seasonal lagoon in Iberia. It was a precious wetland that covered 4,000 hectares in the dry season and extended to a massive 50 sq km in the winter. It comprised lagoons and large stretches of reedbeds, perfect for resident and migrating birds. Traditionally, the land was considered unproductive and the standing water a potential source of disease, so the area was largely left to nature and the enjoyment of ecologists and occasional wildfowlers.
Photo Credit: Eurasian Cranes at dawn in La Janda, Antonio Benitez Paz. https://www.lagunalajanda.org/
But in the 1960s, due to confusion over the exact ownership of the land, the wetland was taken over by a number of large landowners and gradually drained for farming. A nearby reservoir now regulates the flow of water into the natural La Janda basin. Only in periods of heavy rainfall does the area flood and provide a small sample of the glory it once held.
In 1994, an NGO was formed by locals Paz Lerma and Christina Parkes, who remembered the wonders of the original wetland from their childhoods. Called Amigos de la Laguna de La Janda (Friends of the La Janda Lagoon) its aim was to persuade local and national government to resolve the confusion of ownership and eventually restore this once open-access wetland to its former glory.
Much progress has been made, with the Spanish Ministry of the Environment officially aligning with the project in 2019, but there is still much to be achieved. This is where the funds raised by Global Birdfair will be dedicated, to help the work to continue.
Blue Sky Wildlife Will be There to Welcome You
As part of the wildlife-watching community and a proud champion of conservation projects, Blue Sky Wildlife will be present in Nightingale Marquee, Stand N1/2/3. We will be there to answer all your questions about booking a wildlife tour direct with local specialist guides in a huge range of countries.
We will be joined on the stand by our friends from Ashanti African Tours of Ghana, Nature Experience of Equador and Iberian Lynx Land of Spain, all highly experienced and knowledgeable guides to the wildlife of their areas. They represent just a small sample of the range of the wildlife tours to every continent that can be arranged through Blue Sky Wildlife.
Photo Credit: Blue-moustached Bee-eater, Willie De Vries – Ashanti African Tours
Chris Larsen, co-founder and Managing Director of Blue Sky Wildlife, welcomes the return of Birdfair and the opportunity for nature enthusiasts to meet and share their passion. He says: “The Birdfair is an iconic event and its importance to global wildlife conservation is significant. It also provides an important platform for wildlife operators. The majority of those operators engage in grassroots conversations and as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic the timing could not be better for wildlife guides and nature travellers alike.
Photo Credit: Jose Luis Sanchez, Bonelli’s Eagle – Iberian Lynx Land
“The Reviving La Janda project, being supported by the proceeds of Global Birdfair, is also really important for bird conservation in Spain. The ambition is for the area to be restored to its former glory as a year-round mosaic wetland habitat and an important destination for migrant birds and, of course, birders from across the world.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the marquees fill up over the three-day event with people who are passionate about nature – seeing it and conserving it.”
Visiting Global Birdfair
Global Birdfair is from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 July 2022, 9.00 am to 5.30 pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance from globalbirdfair.org or via a cashless payment option on the gate. You can find a full list of talks and exhibitors on the website.