RSPB finally ditches Hopetoun House as Scottish Birdfair venue

Scottish Birdfair 2014 logoWe visited the British Birdfair this past weekend – an annual three-day birding extravaganza held at Rutland Water. We met quite a few people who’d travelled down from Scotland, either as exhibitors or visitors, and it didn’t take long for conversations to turn to the Scottish Birdfair.

Regular blog readers will know that for the past three years, RSPB Scotland has organised a smaller Birdfair, controversially located in the grounds of Hopetoun House, the stately home of Lord Hopetoun.

The controversy centred on our concerns about the link between Hopetoun and the Leadhills [Hopetoun] Estate in South Lanarkshire. We’ve blogged extensively about those concerns: see here, here, here, here, here, especially here,  and a bit more here, here and here.

In a nutshell, Lord Hopetoun claimed that ‘Hopetoun Estate has no role whatsoever in the management of Leadhills‘. We disputed that, based on our own research (see links above). RSPB Scotland chose to ignore the findings of our research, apparently because they had signed up to a three-year contract, and they continued to hold their event at Hopetoun House. This led to a number of people boycotting the event, notably wildlife artist and raptor research expert Keith Brockie, who stated on this blog that he’d cancelled his exhibitor’s stand at the Scottish Birdfair – well done Keith! We also understand that Mark Avery also turned down an invitation to speak at last year’s Scottish Birdfair, a decision we believe was at least partially based on the Hopetoun/Leadhills connection. If that’s accurate, then well done Mark! The Scottish Raptor Study Group was also reported to have boycotted the event due to its location – if that’s accurate, well done them!

Well the good news, based on various sources, is that RSPB Scotland has finally given Hopetoun House the elbow and the 2015 Scottish Birdfair will be held at a different venue. That really is good news.

The question now is, where is the new venue? Apparently nothing has yet been finalised although the name of one particular site kept cropping up during last weekend’s discussions. Hmmm. We’ll have to wait for the official announcement though…..


14 Responses to “RSPB finally ditches Hopetoun House as Scottish Birdfair venue”

  1. 1 John McAree
    August 18, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    excellent news. The RSPB really weren’t doing themselves any favours, and seriously misjudged public opinion by having it there in the first place. Now, all we need to do is persuade them not to hold it at a time of year when most birders would be looking to spend their weekends out in the field.

    • 4 crypticmirror
      August 19, 2014 at 12:52 am

      Hopefully they move it to the fairer coast rather than another Edinburgh-venue. Everything seems to end up there, and it is always hell to get to. The city is a nightmare for transport to. A less Edinburgh-centric venue would be much more preferable.

      • 5 nirofo
        August 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm

        How about Inverness then everyone in the north can make it also !!!

        • 6 crypticmirror
          August 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm

          Still easier to get to than Edinburgh from anywhere else in Scotland. It isn’t just the getting there, once you get to Edinburgh everything takes three stages longer to move around to get from whichever Edinburgh transport hub you arrived at to the event and costs five times as much as it would anywhere else. After the transport debacles of the last few years I’ve even given up on the Gardening Scotland event, and I used to love that. Edinburgh always makes you use its own internal transport systems instead of putting on an event specific “one-stage” transport that you get anywhere else when an even rolls into town. Edinburgh’s transport is for the ease of Edinburgh council, not for the ease of visitors using it.

          I’d prefer still prefer Plockton though, or Maybole.

  2. 7 nirofo
    August 19, 2014 at 12:56 am

    That’s great news, are the RSPB beginning to show some sense at last, let’s hope so !!!

  3. 8 Stewart Love
    August 19, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Wherever it take place just make sure it’s not at a shooting estate.

  4. 9 Keith Brockie
    August 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Not all shooting estates have a bad reputation now! Atholl Estate wanted to host the RSPB Scottish Bird Fair and it would still be a great venue as well as a good day out for visitors. They and their keepers/stalkers/rangers are very helpful with raptor work on the estate and are well equipped and organised to host events like this.

    • 10 Stewart Love
      August 20, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      Glad to hear that about Atholl Estate Keith if only there were all like this. I’m afraid the bad ones are giving the good ones a bad name, maybe if a few of the good estates like Atholl were to put pressure onto the bad ones to stop persecution, we might get a reduction in Raptors being killed. It could only help if pressure was put on bad estates from within the industry.

  5. 11 Chas Moonie
    August 28, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    About time too, this was setting a very bad example…..

  6. 12 nirofo
    August 28, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    How about hosting it at a venue where there are no shooting interests involved whatsoever, or is that just a wee bit too radical.

    • 13 Marco McGinty
      August 30, 2014 at 2:59 am

      Not at all. Considering the event should be about celebrating birds (and not killing them), I would fully agree with such a proposal.

  7. 14 Mr Greer Hart, senior
    December 7, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    I wish lessons would be learned by some of the species conservation groups, with their support of trophy shooting and the provision of African game meat to European restaurants, fish mongers and butchers. Scotland for Animals has done protest outside such establishments. Up to seventy different types of such meat are advertised as being obtainable, and it is all perfectly legal and supplied by a Scottish company. Certain species of Zebra, Giraffe and other fast declining, once very common, species have been offered. One such large organisation has got itself into bother with Survival International, the tribal rights group, for encouraging the creation of areas for wildlife tourism and possibly trophy shooting, i.e. in the Congo, the Baka Pygmy people have been evicted from their ancestral forest home, and even been attacked and beaten by wildlife guards; in Botswana, the Bushmen have been cleared off their hunting lands for the same thing. Whoever made that deal with Hopetoun Estate should have been hung out on a barbed wire fence, as a sophisticated organisation like the RSPB should have known better. I have contacted lots of groups that have come into existence to save this or that species, particularly Elephants and Rhinos, and those answering seem to be blissfully ignorant of what is going on elsewhere in the world of persecuting wildlife. The Namibian Embassy in London denied its wildlife, Rhinos in this case, were being auctioned off to American trophy shooters, and Tanzania is about to clear 30,000 Maasai to make way for a vast shooting estate for the Dubai Royal Family, with its own airstrip. Years ago, I had cause to write to the Minister of Tourism of Egypt, as permission was to be granted to Italian bird shooters to do so on the Nile, and to take the dead birds back to Italy for taxidermy. Two such Italian shooters were operating on an estate near Edinburgh, and a woman friend found a device with live pigeons tied it to attract other birds. She dismantled it to the annoyance of the prospective bird killers. Then, she handed herself into the Police, but no charges resulted, and I wonder why?

    They call of this kind of killing sport, but many are coming to call it a perversion. I wish the well-run and law-abiding estates would establish a bench mark that could be enforced throughout the UK. The business goal of maximising profits should not be used to run shooting estates, but an acceptance that Birds of Prey are a form of overhead, and allowed for, built into the accountancy practice used for running such places.

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