Gallery: Record-breaking year for Birdfair at Rutland Water Nature Reserve

Nigel Croxton of Leicestershire and Rutland Badger Group shows Katie Day, seven, and Callum Tottles, 14, a badger''Photo: SM190811-045js

Nigel Croxton of Leicestershire and Rutland Badger Group shows Katie Day, seven, and Callum Tottles, 14, a badger''Photo: SM190811-045js

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ORGANISERS of a charity tourist event are hoping for a record-breaking year as the figures start to roll in.

{http://www.stamfordmercury.co.uk/news/in-pictures,View the Birdfair 2011 gallery,Birdfair 2011 photo gallery}

Wildlife enthusiasts young and old swarmed to Rutland Water Nature Reserve in Egleton over the weekend for Birdfair 2011.

The event has already raised £17,400 through the Birdfair auction, more than £3,000 up on last year’s auction total.

The event, dubbed the “birdwatcher’s Glastonbury”, also attracted record numbers again this year with more than 22,000 visitors from all over the world through the gates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The full figures will not be known until next week.

Co-organiser Tim Appleton from the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust says the show’s multi-cultural roots has had an effect on the entire county this year.

He said: “One thing people have commented on this year is how many different countries and cultures there were represented and that wasn’t just at the show, but in Oakham as well.

“The town was buzzing with people from all over the world in the evenings.”

Now in its 23rd year, the Birdfair has become a worldwide event and is the biggest tourist attraction in the county year on year.

Mr Appleton said: “This year was another record breaking year for the Birdfair and we hope we will have raised record breaking amounts.”

The event this year was raising money for Birdlife’s project to protect migratory birds using the world’s three main flyways from Europe to Africa and in America and Australasia.

Interested visitors attended multiple lectures from wildlife tour companies, enthusiasts and celebrities.

Among them this year were Mark Cawardine, Mike Dilger, Bill Oddie, Nick Baker and Simon King.

Mr Appleton said: “One of the highlights for me each year is having people like Simon King and Bill Oddie there.”

On Monday Simon posted on his Twitter site: “Had a FAB cruise on Friday on Rutland Water. Great osprey sighting.”

The 23nd Birdfair also marked the end of an era for the menangement team.

Site warden Martin Aspinall is retiring this year and will not be involved in the show next year.

Mr Appleton said: “Martin has been with us for more than 20 years and him leaving marks the end of an era for us in a way.

“The volunteers all clubbed together and bought him and beautiful painting.

“I’d like to pay tribute to all the volunteers that put in so many hours and so much effort over the weekend.”