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Sunday 17 May 2015


Sunday 17th May – 9am-5pm
Mannington Hall
Bill Oddie making me laugh at the WildSounds Stand
Picture taken by Duncan Macdonald

The car park was already much fuller than yesterday when I first arrived this morning. Must be something to do with the fact that Celebrity BILL ODDIE was visiting today! Again the Bird & Wildlife Fair has been lucky with the weather and it was sunny for most of the day.

I decided to start the day's proceedings, by walking to the 'Kingfisher Hide', not that I saw any kingfishers, but did have a wonderful time by myself, to escape the crowds for a while. On route I saw an Orange Tip and Speckled Wood Butterfly and a Blackcap was singing. From the hide I had a fascinating time watching a Little Grebe catching sticklebacks (presume that's what they were) and feeding them to her cute, fluffy chick in the shimmery green water, adorned with lily pads – a very tranquil scene! Two Gadwall were also on the pond and a Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were singing. Walked back to the entrance of the fair and met up with Pete Snook, who joined me for most of the day.
Little Grebe and Chick from 'Kingfisher' Hide.

As soon as we walked into the fair, several blog readers introduced themselves and said how much they enjoyed my blog – Pete was highly amused by this! It was great to meet you all today (and yesterday) – makes all my hard work worth while – all the sitting up until the early hours of the morning, typing and editing pictures, as I am currently!
Roger Tidman, Wildlife Photographer.

Legendary wildlife photographer and friend of my father,  Roger Tidman approached me and introduced himself – he very kindly asked after my father and wondered if it would be possible to visit him. I replied that it would be lovely, as he doesn't have hardly any visitors, well actually, aside from family and long time friends Eileen and Malcolm, no one has been to visit him at all, which is very sad. People are frightened to visit I think, as no, he is not the same as he was, but there is still a big part of him left and his sense of humour is still there. I was very touched by Roger's suggestion of visiting him, thank you. Another name from the past also stopped me to say hello – Richard Porrit, who was a committee member of the NOA and again very kindly asked after my father, thank you.

I didn't see many Norfolk birders today – would have been nice if more people had made an effort to support this spectacular event, to ensure it continues. After all, we weren't exactly swimming in 'rares' today! In fact the pager was worryingly quiet. Pete and I thought we had missed messages, but no, it was just a naff day for birds! Pete loved the venue and really enjoyed his day. There was a marked increase in families attending this year, which was good. In the optics marquee Pete thought he heard a Kingfisher and then seconds later I spotted it, sitting on a branch in the water at the far end and was then enjoyed by other visitors around for a short while, before it sped off. There was also a Grey Wagtail flitting about on the roof of Mannington Hall. Bumped into Vernon Eve here (from 'Infocus' at Titchwell). Bought Mother a 5" magnifier glass for a bargain show price of £10.00 (should have been double that). Canon were situated in the Wex marquee and I picked up the Canon 300 2.8 lens and body to assess the weight – far too heavy, so that saved me some pennies!!! (I wish!). Filled in the form to win a pair of bins, but not heard anything yet!
A lady I met today, who reads my blog – at the Canon stand.

Pete Snook and others in the Wex Photographic Marquee.

 Customers and Staff in the Wex Photographic Marquee.

 Customers at Swarovski in the Wex Photographic Marquee.

The Catering Marquee and Vendors.

Pete Snook chatting with other local birders.

Beer Tent!

The lovely staff at Vette's Veggie Van.

Lunch in the marquee – scrumptious vege curry with naan bread, mango chutney and a vege sausage roll, washed down with tea from Vettes Veggi Van – lovely! Pete had a burger in a bun from one of the other vendors. A very nice man approached me (can't remember his name) and very kindly had brought along an issue of "Birdwatching" magazine, dated March 1988 with one of my father's articles, titled 'Gateway to Spring' – thank you so much, brought a smile to my face when I read the article, especially the paragraph where father mentions 'roasting chestnuts' – I remember roasting chestnuts on the woodburner so well, especially when they exploded, scattering bits all across the floor! See below:

After lunch, I walked back to my car to get my other Canon 7D body with 17-85mm lens and as I started to walk back, Bill Oddie turned up in a taxi! He was immediately accosted by an EDP Reporter before he got in the entrance door. Now, if you want to get a seat to a celebrity lecture, you have to go to the lecture before, to get a decent seat or seat at all in some cases. So Pete and I went to the BTO's "Tracking Cuckoos to Africa and back" by Ieuan Evans at 1.45pm. I seriously wanted to go to this anyway, so it was ideal all round. This talk was both fascinating and entertaining, Ieuan was a very good speaker.
Bill Oddie being interviewed by the Eastern Daily Press.

Bill getting warmed up for his audience!

 Some of the audience for Bill Oddie's talk.

Bill Oddie Unplucked – 2.15pm
It was great to see Bill and he looked really well and relaxed and seemed to be in a jovial mood. Perhaps he enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere here – he also wasn't bombarded by too many people in one go (I found out what that's like, this weekend.... LOL!!). He made people laugh as soon as he walked in with quips about measuring people to squeeze them in the room. Bill captivated his audience with tales from past and present with lots of amusement and humour and also discussed serious issues that he is so passionate about. The highlight of Bill's talk was right at the beginning when he got deadly serious with a sombre face, bowed his head and said in a very slow and depressive tone: "...... I would like to begin by asking you to join me in a minute's silence... to what's the word... mourn the fact that a few day's ago, I woke up and so did you and found that David Cameron was still f*****g prime minister"!!! The whole room broke into hysterical and uncontrollable laughter and applause! He kept a dead pan face for a good few seconds before laughing and then apologised... "I'm sorry about the language, but it is necessary....." He went on to say why he had said this. I caught this all on video, so pleased I did – I keep watching this bit over and over again, its so funny!

It killed me to do it, but I managed to video the entire talk! Mind you the camera stopped videoing three times and I had to restart the camera, so a couple of gaps. The files are so big, I don't know how I am going to get them onto youtube, I will have to ask advice about this.

Moments before I escorted Bill Oddie to the WildSounds Stand.
Photo by Pete Snook.

Escorting Bill Oddie to the WildSounds Stand.
Photo by Pete Snook

After the talk, outside Bill said he needed to be at the WildSounds Book Stand, so I volunteered to escort him there on condition he posed for a picture 'that's what's known as blackmail you know', he replied. Anyway, after picture was taken, I led Bill to the Wildsounds stand. I asked him if he remembered my father, which he did and has very fond memories of his birding days at Holme, but amusingly remembered the issues between NNT (as it was then, now NWT) and the NOA and the permit system for both reserves. He asked me to remind him of my mother's name. It was really nice to chat with him as he walked to the main marquee. At the WildSounds stand, Bill signed copies of his latest book "Bill Oddie Unplucked" for his followers and fans. It was so nice to see him again. Such a pity he's not on TV – he should have his own show really – Bill Oddie Unplucked seems like a good title too! Bill if you are reading this, WE LOVE YOU! More pictures were taken by Duncan of Bill and I and also by Tina Lindsay.
Bill Oddie signing his new book on the WildSounds Stand.
Julian Bhalerao and Duncan MacDonald – WildSounds.

Bill Oddie and I at the WildSounds Stand.

Bill very kindly posed with people at the Say NO to Easthaugh Holiday Park stand where he spent a long time talking about this proposed park and seemed very concerned indeed. Julian B. and I took pictures of this, to send to the staff to help in their quest to stop this park being built in the River Wensum area.
Bill Oddie with Say NO To Easthaugh Holiday Park.

Bill Oddie with Duncan Macdonald, Tina Lindsay and ?

Bill Oddie with Tina Lyndsay.


Mannington Hall.
Moat around Mannington Hall.

 Carol's Cakes & Bakes.

Bengal Eagle Owl.

European Eagle Owl.

Organisers Rob & Jill Wilson with Eagle Owl from 'World Of Owls',
posing for the Eastern Daily Press photoshoot.

I wandered round the fair for one last time and then walked back to my car. Massive congratulations to Rob and Jill Wilson who have pulled off their second Bird and Wildlife Fair. I don't know how they did it – a mammoth job and to everyone else that was involved. Also thank you very much for asking me to judge the photographic competition, I felt very honoured indeed. A fabulous weekend all round and very much looking forward to next year's event. There were several wildlife organisations with stands including the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, British Trust for Ornithology, Butterfly Conservation, Hawk & Owl Trust..... the list goes on, but the biggest, the RSPB did not support this event, which I don't quite understand at all. Hopefully they will support our county next year – after all they have a good number of reserves here. Anyway, I will add Bill Oddie's Talk here when I am able to.

Videos to be added when I find out how to add three together and reduce the size to load onto youtube – any advice please?


  1. Who is that strange looking guy with Penny Clarke?

    Oh, it's THAT Goodie...
    Yes, like me and Lord Tidman, he would have met and spoken with and probably learnt from your Dad...
    but I can't remember permit issues 'twixt Norfolk Nats and the NOA....
    possibly because I didn't do more than one reserve and surrounds a day...
    I had M42 lenses with my Practika Nova camera in those days...
    and screw-thread lenses and extension tubes REALLY slow you down!!
    Especially when you know you've got to meet up with the rest of the family at a set time...
    or else walk back to Diss...
    no, that never actually happened, but a clouded atmosphere in the car often made me think it would have been better walking!!
    A lot of birdwatchers "owe" your Dad!!

    Looking again at the pictures you judged....
    and with reference to my comment on yesterday's post....
    the overall winner is superb...
    it captures the movement of the birds coming to roost wonderfully...
    in the bedroom we've got one of Bruce Pearson's screenprints "Pinks Inland"....
    Pink-footed Geese descending onto a field...
    it has almost exactly the same impression of movement!!

    Glad you have had a really good w/e...

  2. Reading your last lines about video joining, reduction, etc...
    is there a decent video splitter, joiner, editor and size reducer out there... pllllleease!!
    One that doesn't expect you to have been in the film production business for your whole life...
    one that is easy to use for techy-thickos like me!!
    I notice that no one has answered this...