Scottish birdfair: unaware or just dinnae care?

Some surprising news emerged this morning….an announcement has been made that the RSPB’s Scottish Birdfair will probably take place again next year (ironically 2013 is ‘The Year of Natural Scotland’) at the same venue: Hopetoun House (see here for announcement).

Why is this surprising? Well, for a start this choice of venue for the inaugural Scottish Birdfair 2012 raised plenty of eyebrows, and for very good reason (see here). If that wasn’t reason enough for RSPB management to reconsider their options (and it clearly wasn’t), then how about this:

Scottish Land & Estates (Andrew Hopetoun is a Director, remember?) issued a press release a couple of weeks ago that implied their support for buzzard ‘control’ (for control read ‘licences to kill buzzards’), basing their argument on the ‘evidence’ from that now infamous ‘buzzard snatches osprey chick’ video. The Chief Exec of SLE (Douglas McAdam) said:

 “This video provides the sad but clear and conclusive evidence of the serious impact that this growing population of Buzzards is now having“. [See here for SLE’s press release].

Actually Douglas, it provided no such thing. What it showed was an example of intraguild predation – a common and perfectly natural ecological phenomenon where a competitor kills and eats another competitor.

Come on, RSPB. Surely you can find a more suitable venue and partner for the next Scottish Birdfair? Sure, there are advantages to holding it at Hopetoun, e.g. the geographic location can catch punters from both sides of the border, then there’s……well actually it’s hard to think of another advantage. But maybe things like venues and partners don’t matter to the public? Another surprise this morning was to learn that this year’s Birdfair at Hopetoun House attracted almost 4,500 visitors. Were those visitors unaware of the Hopetoun/Leadhills connection, or was it just a case of knowing but not caring? You’d have to guess that if they were attending a Birdfair then they were probably into birds, in which case it’s probably likely that they were unaware of the connection, rather than not caring. You’d hope so anyway.

9 thoughts on “Scottish birdfair: unaware or just dinnae care?”

  1. I have made this comment before on this blog but it is still relevant even if it was not published before. The Earl of Hopetoun is also known as the Marquess of Linlithgow. His erstwhile third wife…..

    [Ed: Interesting allegations Kit but we don’t want to publish them here, sorry].

  2. I have in front of me our joint renewal for the RSPB – I just don’t know – what’s the point with something like this? I can’t help but feel more than a bit miffed to say the least – dinnae care? Outgrown the perspective? Too big? Do we really want another reserve like the proposed Endrick scheme with cafe, toilets and gift shoppe – okay, we may want the land and maybe that’s the point – perhaps purchase of more of this essential commodity to provide more contiguous habitat would be more effective in conservation than descrete pockets of reserves. No point in having breeding populations on the reserve if the birds disappear immediately they’re over the boundary. For all the Kites at Ardgaty none have ever made it up the 20km north to me, which is unlike the spread of population around the North Downs.
    Point number 3 in the subscription renewal: “planting reeds in Somerset, creating vulture safe havens in Asia and braving choppy seas to save albatrosses” – all very laudable and not a definative list no doubt but remind me, how many eagles, harriers, buzzards etc etc have we lost this year? that we actually know about? conservation, like charity, begins at home – and our home is on the land.

  3. LIke many concerned naturalists, I had to boycot the Scottish Bird Fair simply because of the chosen venue and this estate’s alleged connection to raptor persecution. Looks like I’ll be giving it a miss next year as well, which is a pity because since Scotland is sadly lacking in such events. I really would like to support this event but this won’t be happening until the organisers make alternative venue arrangements and choose a site where the owners do not have apparently predetermined thoughts on the eradication of raptors. I’m sure there must be a sizeable country park that could hold an event of this size.

    A few people I did speak to were unaware of the alleged raptor persecution connection and hopefully will not attend next year. But then again, many RSPB members are quite happy to let their cats out and decimate local bird populations, firmly in the belief that their ‘Tiddles’ doesn’t kill birds.

  4. Pip interesting that you chose to boycott the Bird Fair because of choice of location. I also refused to attend for the same reason.

    Wonder how many others did the same?

    Surely the RSPB will not deliberately choose to have next years Bird Fair at the same venue. If so this can be viewed as hypocritical at best and at worst vicarious liability!!!

    1. The RSPB has previously commented on this issue, saying ‘we accept that Hopetoun Estate do not condone any illegal practices on their land’. See:

      It is fair to say that Andrew Hopetoun (and SLE for that matter) has routinely condemned the illegal persecution of raptors. It has also been stated (by an un-named spokesperson of Andrew Hopetoun) that ‘Hopetoun Estate has no role whatsoever in the management of Leadhills Estate’, which seems to be at odds with information provided by the estate here:

  5. Thanks for the reply. It still begs the question, if Hopetoun has such an unequivocal stance when it comes to wildlife crime, then why lease land to a company who’s only interest appears to be to ensure the patronage of wealthy Americans, and apparently to ensure patronage at Any Cost!
    Am I the only one who thinks Hopetoun talk the talk, but the reality appears to be they don’t walk the walk.
    Silly me, it’s all about the money.

  6. Unaware actually – I attended and did some stuff there but was totally unaware of any of this until stumbling across this blog while search for details of something else; I expect the vast majority who attended were unaware of any of this, I never heard mention of it…

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