If you thought only children and families were catered for at RSPB Conwy – then think again! This autumn will see a new diary of events launched at the reserve catering for the more grown-up clientele!
From yoga for beginners, photography workshops, wildlife gardening and evening talks, there’ll be something for everyone to take part in this autumn. Many of these events will be held in the environmentally friendly ‘LookOut’ building, a fantastic indoor space near the visitor centre, with amazing views over the lagoon and mountains beyond.
As Helen Jowett, Visitor Experience Manager explains: “We wanted to do something different and offer local people the chance to learn new skills, relax and unwind in stunning surroundings, and discover more about their local area. We hope our new events diary will do just that.”
So if you fancy picking up a new hobby or if you’ve always fancied trying something different like yoga, then give it a go this autumn at RSPB Conwy. There is a charge for all the events and booking is required, so please visit www.rspb.org.uk/conwy or call 01492 584 091 for more information.
Until the end of September young artist, Becky Thorley-Fox is using RSPB Ynys-hir and its wildlife as the inspiration for her next portfolio of paintings.
Becky, who is originally from Cheshire has been based at the nature reserve over the summer, and has produced numerous field sketches and paintings that illustrate wildlife interactions and behaviour within the landscape.
Her weekly studies can be found on display in the reserve visitor centre, and her work will culminate in a final exhibition of paintings in October.
Becky said: “I like to work in the fresh air away from the comfort of four walls. Capturing a moving subject within a changing landscape forces you to work quickly and intuitively, observing the wildlife close up helps you to understand their form and movements, the changing light, atmosphere and many moods of the day.”
Becky graduated in 2009 with a BA (hons) degree in creative arts from Bath Spa University and then relocated to Wales to focus on her painting. In 2012/13 she returned to Cheshire to learn more about the subjects that inspire her work.
She studied on a land based Diploma course and specialised in Ecology, Conservation, Biology, Animal behaviour and Botany at Reaseheath College. She recently participated on the SWLA Seabird drawing week based in East Lothian.
To see Becky’s art for yourself please visit the reserve, or for more information go to her website www.beckythorley-fox.co.uk
It was my great pleasure to visit the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Waters a couple of weekends back. This was my second visit to the fair, I blogged about my first a couple of years ago. So I am still very much a newbie at the biggest festival of Birdwatching in the British Isles.
I had to skip the opening Friday due to work commitments, so there was lost time to make up for on the Saturday and Sunday.
For those who have never been, you have missed out on a treat, and I would heartily recommend you pencil in the dates of next year’s fair into your diary’s (21st-23rd August 2015). Everything and everybody you have ever seen, read or heard about birding and wildlife are there. It has been described as the birding Glastonbury. Thankfully we didn’t have the mud or the rain that the more famous weekend festival got this year. Every type of birding holiday, clothing, optic, magazine and accessory is covered but it is so much more than a marketplace. With its lecture marquees you can spend the entire day listening to talks about wildlife that will leave you inspired by the amount of work that goes into making programs like Springwatch or Spy In The Huddle, or the cutting edge of conservation research (and if you visit the RSPB Isla stand you can have a wee dram to warm you up!).
I arrived in time to catch the end of Jonathan Scott’s (Big Cat Diaries) update on what had been going on in Kenya since he was last on our screens. The talk was accompanied with some wonderful photographs of the big cats that he and his wife Angie have such a wonderful relationship with.
A trick I have learnt with BirdFair is to try and catch the lecture before the one you really want to see, especially if you know that one is going to be popular, because then you can shuffle nearer the front between talkers. With 22,000 visitors this year the lecture tents is getting busier by the year. One of the highlights of the weekend was A Question of Stork; where by a panel of experts are ritually humiliated by Stephen Moss. The bird name charades round has now been claimed by Mike Dilger, who’s made it his own weekend speciality, but Bill Thompson III’s Egyptian Goose will live long in the memory of those who attended. The other thing I learnt during the charades round was how many animals and birds have the word “puff” in them... if only Bill’s team had said Puffin they would have got an extra point.
We stayed in the main lecture marquee as the most anticipated talk of the weekend followed the quiz. Chris Packham was up next with his update on the Malta Massacre. The atmosphere generated from the 700 people packed into the tent (a record I believe for a single talk) was electric. Despite audio problems caused by overheating Chris’s talk was spine tingling in its passion and anger. The actual scale of the problem was brought into sharp focus by two people who actually live and deal with the illegal shooting of birds in Malta on a daily basis. Can you imagine seeing your first Montague’s Harrier and then seeing it blasted from the sky moments later … It was incredible to hear the stories of fear and intimidation being placed on these two individuals over the past year since they got involved in Chris’s YouTube project. The team got a well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the talk.
After a spot of lunch and a wander around some of the stands at the fair it was back to the main lecture marquee for one of the more serious quizzes of the weekend, Bird Brain Of Britain. This conducted in the style of Mastermind, and heads of four NGO’s go head to head to try and win some money for their organisations (everybody goes home with something). It was hosted by the inimitable Bill Oddie.
Our final presentation of the day was by The One Show’s Mike Dilger. Mike’s talks are always hugely enthusiastic and entertaining. He did a round up over the past twelve months of his life, covering his adventure down the Grand Canyon with Dan Snow. It is always fascinating to hear what goes on behind that few minutes of footage you see as an end product. I know from experience that it takes a whole day to put together that four or five minutes you see in your front room on the One Show. It’s an incredible process.
And so a packed first day of BirdFair 2014 came to an end for me … I had to get up early and do it all again on the Sunday … and I shall tell you about that in the next blog.
All images © Anthony Walton