It barely seems like a few days ago but indeed it is over a week since I attended the Birdfair and we presented our Fair to Nature farmer of the year at our special breakfast event.

Fair to Nature breakfast at Birdfair 2014

Attended by lots of well known faces in the birding and conservation world we enjoyed sharing our message and activity of bringing wildlife conservation through a sustainable market led approach.

Attendees have given their own thoughts on this here, here, and here and my friend Tristan independently sums up my thinking perfectly here.

As he rightly says: “We are always talking about how bad things are with our wildlife. We are always asking for money to save this or to help that….. However, here is a very positive and practical solution to helping wildlife thrive, by merely making sure we buy the right products!”

I know that the farmers involved in our Fair to Nature breakfast at this years Birdfair not only enjoyed the conversations they had with old and now new friends but also realised that whilst they are still in a minority of farmers doing the right things at the right scale to make a difference for our wildlife it is nonetheless valued by us conservation minded consumers.

A big thank you goes to not only our good friend Mike Dilger for presenting certificates to the winners, including to the overall winner Graham Birch, but all Fair to Nature farmers like Graham for making their farms kinder to nature.

I do however feel especially compelled to also thank those of you who have been very supportive of the need to ensure nature has a place in our countryside alongside productive agriculture, like me you are fed-up with the lack of wildlife on our farms, it needn’t be like that as Graham Birch rightly demonstrates. A particular big thank you to; Mark Avery, Lucy McRobert, Tristan Reid, Ruth Miller & Alan Davies, Peter Alfrey and Gunnar Engblom……on behalf of the Corn Buntings, Turtle Doves, Harvest Mice, Common Blue and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies ……thank you!

They, like me and hopefully like you want a better food system that gives consumers like you and me a choice on ensuring our global food systems gives back to nature, protects the environment and provides sustainable food which is Fair to Nature.

Talking of Turtle Doves, there is a distinctive autumnal nip in the air at the moment coupled with shortening days mean those Turtle Doves are heading back towards the Sahelian region of Africa to winter. Yet perhaps they will be shortly passing through Fair to Nature farms in Spain and Portugal where Steve’s Leaves are grown ensuring Turtle Dove friendly habitats are available for them. A selection of those salad leaves were available for attendees at the Birdfair Fair to Nature breakfast too. Give a Turtle Dove a home and buy Steve’s Leaves! I can vouch for them being tasty, healthy Birding fuel!

I like what they do a lot but also their can do attitude for wildlife. Not only do they provide for Turtle Doves and other birds on their UK operations (as well as a whole host of nature) but also in Iberia too…smart! Meeting recently with UK farms manager Andy Elworthy together with our friends at The RSPB’s Birds without Borders team it was great to hear of not only the great things they are doing for wildlife but the increasing things they can and are willing to do for our migrant birds here in the UK but also in Europe too.

This bank holiday weekend those salad leaves probably had a good watering but evidently so did I, getting soaked watching wading birds on the move as they pass through pools and scrapes on nature reserves and on Fair to Nature farms perhaps near you. I was fortunate enough to witness birds such as Spotted Redshank, Little Stint, Ruff, Sanderling and Dunlin on route to their wintering grounds from Arctic breeding grounds.

The myriad of waders makes for happy days spent sifting through flocks trying to pick out more unusual passengers, seemingly any open pool has the possibility of hosting perhaps a Green Sandpiper so look out for them on your travels. In fact the location and timing of the Birdfair at Rutland Water can make for good passage wader watching, so perhaps you’ll join us next year too and perhaps very soon I’ll tell you more about what we are going to be doing at Fair to Nature to help our migratory waders too like this Ruff and Spotted Redshank below I delightfully observed on muddy pools this weekend (and yes the sun did shine…briefly!)

Little Stint


Spotted Redshank - wading bird



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