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Friday 20 August 2010

BIRD FAIR - Day One and my Competition Prize: Wildlife Walk and Lunch with Simon King!!!

Mr and Mrs King!!!!!!! (I wish!) with Mark Karn far right.

Where do I begin - an AWESOME day thanks to and Carl Zeiss.

Enormous thanks to Steve Kirk, Andy Bright and rest of Birdforum team and to Mark Karn, Divisional Manager of Carl Zeiss Ltd for my fantastic, unforgettable Prize!!!!

The day started very quickly, when realised I had slept through the alarm - can you believe it!!! When I looked at the clock it said 6am and I was supposed to leave at 6.30am!!! Shot out of bed, panic, panic, panic!!! I eventually left at 7.10am (with straightened hair!) and only just made it to the Red Car park at the Birdfair by 8.50am which was requested by Mark Karn so that I could collect my free entry ticket to the fair. As I walked along the path to the gate I realised there was a massive queue already - Jerry who manages the Simon King website was coming down the path with Mark Karn looking for the competition winners, Jerry recognised me and they escorted me past everyone in the queue - I felt like a VIP!!! I had a feeling it was going to be an excellent morning! Mark asked me to meet at the Carl Zeiss stand at 9.45am when Simon would then join us all to walk around the reserve. Whizzed round some of the marquees for half an hour - managed to buy a Paramo light weight rain mac on route! Went to say hello to Jed and Sophie, Warden and AW at Holme Bird Observatory on the Observatories Stand in Marquee 2. One of the nice reps at Leica gave me two lens cleaning cloths! Bumped into Glyn on route and also Chris and Jackie Mills and Mark who said 'my lunch with Simon was all over the web'!!!

Terry (Nikon Kid), Penny and Jim (Jimbob) from

Simon again!

Penny, BF, Pat (from SK website), Simon, Cathy (from SK website)
and behind her Jim, BF and to the far right Terry, BF
at the Carl Zeiss stand about to set off on our walk.

Mark Karn, Divisional Manager of Carl Zeiss Ltd.

Simon King picking up an Osprey in the far distance from one of the reserve hides on our walk.

Penny, BF, Pat (from SK website), Simon, Jim, BF,
Cathy (from SK website)
and to the far right Terry, BF
on our walk around the reserve.

Stood at the Carl Zeiss stand by 9.45am and other winners joined me BF Nikon Kid, Jimbob and two Simon King website winners, Cathy and Pat - there was supposed to be six of us, but the sixth person never replied to Debbie's (Simon's sister) email she told me later! BF Steve Kirk and Andy Bright were also there to say hello. Also saw my friend Graham here (nice to see you!) Then Simon turned up looking gorgeous as ever! Carl Zeiss kitted people out with scopes and bins for those that hadn't got any with them - I had my Leica's with me. After a few photos! we set off around the reserve via the Anglian Birdwatching Centre along with two Carl Zeiss Reps, chaparones for Simon I think! It was wonderful being able to spend a relaxing time, chatting with Simon without loads of other people hassling, so much so I didn't want to go back to the fair - could have stayed out in the field all day in his company - he is such as easy going, fun person to be with. Simon asked if anyone knew what the bird was that was calling and when I correctly said 'Goldfinch' he jested that I should lead the group! We all got to chat to Simon (I tried not to keep him to myself - ok I did sometimes!) but he made sure that he chatted to all five of us which was very sweet. I can't remember exactly where we went, as its all a bit of a daze now, but we went into a couple of hides or it could have been three! Simon picked up a possible, very distant osprey along with a common buzzard over distant trees from one of the hides. He really does know loads of stuff - I was very impressed with how quickly he picked birds out on the lagoons: green sandpiper, 2 common sandpipers, a single knot (which was a long way out) and his knowledge of bird behaviour was fascinating. We also saw a cross greylag/bar headed goose! A few egyptian geese around, cormorants, several hirundines skimming the waters, a little egret, a family of pheasants below the hide. A party of long tailed tits flitted amongst the trees along the path and a chiffchaff called briefly. Big flock of goldfinches flew over a new scrape being built. Simon can also it seems, mimic most birds! When BF Jimbob (from Norwich, Norfolk) said to me he felt like there would be a Spotted Crake in Norfolk today, Simon immediately mimicked one!!! Simon was also discussing the birdguides Apps for the iphone which he has and wasn't aware of the other App that I had for 'Birds of North Europe'. Simon also told us a fascinating story about a Red footed Falcon - I can't remember where in Britain this was now, but anyway..... Simon had gone to see this RFF that several birders had been to see and on arrival no one had seen it, they all left and Simon stayed behind - not too long after everyone else had gone Simon spotted the falcon... .he dug out and threw some earth worms, which the RFF immediately came down to eat (a favourite food) so close to him it was almost unbelievable and when some birders arrived and saw how close the bird was, they thought it was an escape!!!.... 'No, they just love earth worms and will come down for them, even if next to humans' said Simon. (apologies if this story is not exactly right... was trying to remember what Simon had said!)

I asked Simon if he had been birdwatching in Norfolk much and he said he had visited Cley in the winter time and had also walked Blakeney Point for a film that was made - several years ago. I name dropped who my father was/history!!! and chatted about the Holme Reserves and Norfolk in general. I also gave Simon my blog address and told him he would now be able to keep up with the Norfolk birding news! Simon asked what my job was and seemed especially interested when I told I had been an Applemac Operator/Designer for many years. I also got the opportunity to show him the Lesser Grey Shrike at Kelling on my camera and the Blakeney Point Icterine Wabler which he was impressed with and commented was 'very sharp'.

We returned to the Fair and as soon as we reached the Anglian Birdwatching Centre, loads of people were upon us - that special time with just the five of us was melting away! A special time that I will always treasure.

Lunch with Simon - we were escorted to a reserved table in the marquee for lunch and I had the opportunity to sit dead opposite Simon, but instead I sat one seat to the right - too nervous to be that close! It was so exciting to be sitting having lunch with SIMON KING!!! I had a vege pasta dish with vegetables, a yummy cappuccino cheesecake and a lemonade - all good for the waistline (expansion!).

Simon and I again!!!!!!

Chatting over lunch, Simon told us he is not NOT doing Autumnwatch this year, but he was not able to say why, but would be doing something else instead. He said he would be returning to Shetland shortly and loved being there - he mentioned he would probably be going to Unst. We chatted about the Aberdeen to Lerwick Ferry which he agreed with me that 14 hours on there wasn't long enough - he like me, loves everything about that ferry - it was lovely hearing him say that. He also told us about a new website he is launching called (flyers of this can be picked up from the Simon King Stand in Marquee 7). Just after 1pm Simon had to leave to be interviewed on his stand, but very kindly posed for another picture with me (see above). He shook hands with the men in our group and kissed all the ladies on both cheeks!!!! Heaven!!! But no I am not so fanatical/sad that I am not going to wash my face!!! Simon also signed photo cards for those that wanted one - mine reads 'For Penny - Lovely to have shared a walk with you - Peace and Light - Simon King'. DITTO Simon!!! XXX

Now on a massive high!!! Met up and chatted with other BF members just outside the main food marquee and then sat chatting with BF Steve Kirk and Andy Bright in the marquee. Andy took a lovely picture of Steve and I (see below!)

Steve Kirk (Birdforum) and me.

The weather today started off very drizzly, but now it was blue skies and boiling hot and even hotter in the marquees!

Managed to get Ian Wallace's signature for my 'Blokes and Birds' book, but that was the only one I got today and also took his photo.

Bought the 'MacMillian guide - Bird Identification to pair up with the 'Birders Guide to European and Middle Eastern Birds' I already have from a second hand book stand.

Bought a new book: Helm 'Birds of the Middle East' second ed. by Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall who also signed the book and took their picture too!

Park Cameras were giving away the BBC Wildlife magazine and also a Digital Photographer Wildlife magazine with free CD in.

Simon King stand were giving away a Shetland DVD and Shetland pocket guide with map.

On the Uganda stand I was given a bag of coffee granules!

From the Guatemala stand I was given a little china bird which is a whistle - its brilliant - will use this in the field.

Bought a jar of honey - I love honey!

Looked at the lens cover kit for my camera from Stealth Wildlife Ltd which looked fab, but was expensive I thought, around £40 if I remember rightly.

Picked up some lovely freebies and very interesting books on the Algarve.

Jammed in on a photo shoot of Tim Appleton - so got some good shots here!

Lots of photos up of the new observatory on the Fair isle stand with Tim and Irene.

The Events (main) marquee is set back further than it usually is and seems alot bigger - will find out tomorrow when I listen to Simon's lecture!!!

The Art Marquee was stunning as always but I particularly homed in on Chris Roses's paintings - if I had had the money I would have bought two huge oil paintings... one of penguins emerging from the waves and landing on the beach amongst the surf and the other was a very unusual picture of a massive wave with a single petrol (think thats what it was) flying.

There were some brilliant dancers performing in the food marquee area just before I left.

Looking forward to going back tomorrow to take loads of pictures!!! Must try not to spend ANY more money!

This man is soooo famous and gets fed up with being hassled by the press!!!!!!!

Sir Ian Wallace on the 'Wildsounds' stand.

Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall kindly posing for photo after signing their book 'Birds of the Middle East' on the 'Wildsounds' Stand.

Jonathan Scott on the 'Swarovski' stand.

Jed Andrews, Warden and Sophie Barker, Assistant Warden of
Holme Bird Observatory (Norfolk Ornithologists' Association).

Tim Appleton, organiser of the Bird Fair along with Martin Davies.

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