Last year my husband and I moved house. Nothing unusual in that.

We didn’t have time for a holiday all year. Nothing unusual in that (well, not in our house.)

We went to BirdFair – nothing unusual in that. It’s an umissable date in our calendar. We strolled into the Auction Tent to see what was on offer. Something a bit different?  

We have donated prizes to BirdFair before, and we know that the money is spent carefully on important projects, so it was a worthwhile intention.

Lot 1. “A day out with Iolo Williams”. 

Really? Sounded a fantastic opportunity to spend time with a top-notch naturalist. And in Wales – even better (we don’t live near Wales, we just love going there).

We put in a bid and popped back to the Auction Tent over the 3 days to see if anyone had bid more than us. They did. So we bid a bit more…..  we were getting determined!

This continued until, eventually, we won the prize on Sunday afternoon. Hurrah! Tim Appleton put us in touch with Iolo and we arranged a date for early Spring.

Iolo was brilliant. Welcoming, really friendly, full of entertaining stories and one of the most patient guides we have ever met.

We started the day very early, to visit a wild location to see a Black Grouse leck, which we had never seen before. It didn’t look promising to start with, as the weather wasn’t great, but gradually the black grouse arrived. I guess maybe a dozen birds in total, all displaying. Wonderful!

Iolo drove is to the Dee Estuary (great white egret, seabirds) and later on to explore the excellent Burton Mere RSPB Reserve (with a very nice visitor centre and a helpful team of staff– you can do lots of birding whilst staying indoors, if the weather isn’t great).

Iolo is a very popular chap. People often recognise him from his broadcasting and TV work especially on Springwatch/ Autumnwatch and want to stop him for a quick chat or a selfie. He is one of the most generous and thoughtful people we have met and he spent time talking with young people to encourage them about birds and nature. It was a really wonderful and unique day out.

In summary : Who needs a two-week holiday on a beach, when you can have a wild day out in Wales with Iolo Williams??!!

See you in the Auction Tent this year?  Hope you have a fantastic time at BirdFair.

Diana Stacey”

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