Stacey, from our content team, recently paid a visit to the annual Rutland Birdfair to see what it was all about.
Armed with our leaflets and brochures, it was time to find marquee eight, where the Gambia Tourist Board had kindly allowed us to work with them on their stand at the 2018 Rutland Birdfair. I wasn't sure what to expect from the fair, so when we arrived and took a look at our map, we were quick to realise the sheer scale of this event.
Above: views over part of Rutland water from our hotel grounds
As we wandered through, we were met by marquee upon marquee of exhibitors, including birdwatching holiday companies, tourist boards, clothing and equipment companies and not forgetting plenty of tasty treat stalls, from sausage rolls and cheese through to pastries and cakes.
Above: inside one of the marquees
For me, it was a real eye-opener into the world of birding; I didn't realise just how many countries offer fantastic birdwatching opportunities. We got to the Gambia Tourist Board stand and met Ida, the UK representative, along with her colleagues, including Ya Ya, who was a very knowledgeable birding guide.
Above: Greater Painted snipe, image credit Chris Packham
It was a great experience to be able to speak to birding enthusiasts about The Gambia and the opportunities there, and we quickly found that many of the people who stopped to say hello not only knew The Gambia well and loved the birdwatching, but were also already really good friends with Ya Ya!
As we wandered around the fair, we discovered an events marquee, where talks were being held by Chris Packham among other birding personalities, and book signings were taking place too. You could also do some birdwatching at the event, as the fair is held right next to Rutland Water, providing a prime position to see some of the local birdlife.
Above: Little Bee Eaters, image credit: Chris Packham
Overall, it was a fantastic experience to see what this popular event was all about, and whether you're an amateur or experienced birder, there's something for you. You can find out more about the fair on their website, or if you'd like to know more about birdwatching in The Gambia, including day excursions and comprehensive tours hosted by Chris Packham, click here.
Header image: Black Wing stilt, image credit: Chris Packham
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