Had a really enjoyable trip down to Rutland Water for the Bird Fair today. I didn't make it last year so thought I'd make the effort to go down and support this year. On arrival I met up with Tim at the Birdnet stand then met up with Lewis who had driven down from Edinburgh for the weekend. We went round together for the day catching up as we'd not seen each other for a while so that was good. We started our tour round the fair checking out all of the many varied stands. We had a chat with Tim Appleton which was great. I bumped into Tim in the middle of Bwindi Forest in Uganda back in 1997/98 and he allowed me to tag along birding with him for 2 or 3 days seeing some incredible birds in the mean time, something I've fondly remembered for the last 14/15 years!
It was really interesting meeting up with people that I've known for years, or worked with occasionally. Caught up with Neil Calbrade on the WeBS stand and learned a bit about passerine migration etc and caught up with Mick from the Nuneaton Bird Club - I used to go birding with Mick when I got back from Kenya most weekends so it was great to catch up with him too. Also entered a few competitions so looking forward to winning a few books and bottles of Whiskey!
I've been considering a couple of options for my next 'proper' birding tour, several options are in the pipeline, I really fancy a few West African 'destinations' such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Guinea to connect with some of the many special birds of the region. I also fancy Sri Lanka (possibly a trip Jenny and I could do - a mix of wildlife and relaxation), though top of my list is certainly India. There are several options with India, my preferred option is a 'Birding and IPL' tour, I met a guy today who would likely be able to set me up with one of these, a couple of weeks birding in India taking in a couple of my preferred IPL matches - can't think of a better holiday! There was also a good couple of wildlife tours suitable for us both to go on which would be great too. I've picked up plenty of brochures to look through over the coming weeks and look forward to getting some details of some upcoming expeditions into the jungle!
As we walked around I met up with a couple of my 'facebook friends' including Ruth and Alan of 'The Biggest Twitch' fame, and Peter Jones of Andalucia, Spain, all really nice people.
We bumped into a couple of 'famous faces', Lewis was over the moon to meet Simon King AGAIN making me take their picture together! We also had a good chat with Nick Baker, Killian Mullarney, saw Bill Oddie racing through with his head down!, some of the Dutch big guns and best of all (in my opinion) Jonathan Scott. I've got several of his books from when I was in Kenya, such as The Leopard's Tale etc and have watch numerous documentaries so it was great to be able to say hello and have a chat with him.
A flyover Hobby was a bonus as we were leaving. All in all a very enjoyable (although a bit tiring) day.