OSME & The Bird Fair 2014 – some reflections

Mike Jennings, author of the Atlas of The Breeding Birds of Arabia, visiting the OSME stand

Well, it seems like an age since Bird Fair 2014 and it was fantastic that OSME was again part of the ‘birders Glastonbury’. The three days were as hectic as ever, with lots of opportunities to talk to members, friends and supporters.  Catching up with some of our 755 members, is an important part of the Bird Fair. It is always interesting to get feedback from those that support our small, but soon to be growing, Society.

Mike Jennings, Effie and John Warr and a visitor to the OSME stand

There was a lot of discussion around the conservation work that OSME supports via the Conservation and Research Fund (CRF), with the overwhelming majority of members wanting to see us do more.  Three things occurred at the Bird Fair that will enable us to support more projects in the coming 12 months.

Bill Oddie congratulating Nick Acheson on his stunning victory in the Bird Brain quiz 

Firstly, a huge thanks to Nick Acheson of Naturetrek, who won the Bird Brain quiz on behalf of OSME with £1,000 going to the CRF.

Secondly, those members that collected their copies of Sandgrouse from the stand, helped us save more than £250 in postage costs. This saving will go directly to the CRF

Thirdly, welcome to 16 new members, and 4 lapsed members, who joined OSME at The Bird Fair. Your membership subscription directly supports OSME’s conservation work, and the larger our membership, the more work we can do – so thank you, and welcome.   

The OSME CRF has previously funded work by the excellent Batumi Raptor Count from Georgia, and it was great to be sandwiched in between them and Birdwatch Turkey in Marquee 6. The Bird Fair offers a unique opportunity to exchange ideas about the birds of our region, and it was pleasing to hear from Johannes Jansen about the growth of the Batumi Raptor Count and the development of Bird Conservation Georgia.   

Shannon Reid joining OSME Council members Tristan Reid, Effie Warr and Helen Demopolous

One noticeable difference at Bird Fair this year was the number of younger people – did anyone else notice this? Of course it could be that I’m just getting older!!!

We had a new member, Findlay Wilde, who is an amazing young conservationist, who writes an excellent blog – Wilde About Birds – well worth a read. I think Findlay is our youngest member, so welcome Findlay, I hope you enjoy being a member of OSME. On Sunday, Council Member Tristan Reid aka The Inked Naturalist, helped man the stand and was ably assisted by his daughter, Shannon – who must be the youngest OSME helper.

Having local language bird identification guides is a crucial way of growing interest in birds and their conservation. I managed to have several fruitful discussions with a range of people, notably our very own Richard Porter, about developing an updated Arabic version of Birds of The Middle East. OSME will be joining forces with BirdLife International to help raise funds for this important initiative in the coming months. Watch this space.

Findlay Wilde, is our youngest member with our chairman Rob Sheldon

Birds don’t recognise boundaries, so it was great to meet up with the Chairs of the other regional bird clubs – ABC and OBC, with whom we share so many of the same birds, and NBC. We were also joined by Chris Storey of the British Ornithologists Club. It was refreshing to hear that all the regional bird clubs are doing well in terms of membership and support, and we discussed a number of ways we can all collaborate together in the future.

OSMEs presence at the Bird Fair always seems to be rather like a smooth running, well oiled engine. This is no accident!! A lot of hard work takes place before and during Bird Fair weekend. I’d like to thank all of OSME Council for their hard work in the run up to, and during the event, especially Helen Demopolous, Chris Hughes and Bird Fair stalwarts John and Effie Warr. Nick Moran did a great job organising more bright yellow OSME polo shirts. Many Council members helped man the stand including Sal Cooke, Ian Harrison, Tristan and Nick, and it was great to see our Web Master, AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan, from Kuwait on the stand too. A big thank you to David Murdoch for helping in many ways including setting up and manning the stand, and to Mike Jennings for donating a copy of the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia to the Bird Fair auction.

Finally, thanks to all OSME members for your continued support, it was great to see so many of you in Rutland. We will be at Bird Fair again from the 21st – 23rd August 2015, and we hope to see you there.

Rob Sheldon, Chairman


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