22 August 2016

REGUA's tenth Birdfair: 19-21 August

Birdfair 2016 was something of a milestone for REGUA as well as for Rachel and me personally, being our tenth Birdfair representing REGUA. To celebrate, Nicholas Locke (REGUA President) and Raquel Locke (REGUA Vice President) flew over from Brazil to join the UK REGUA team, for what proved to our most successful Birdfair to date.

REGUA's representation at the Birdfair began in 2007 when the World Land Trust kindly invited Rachel and I to use a single table on their stand. Back then hardly anybody had heard of REGUA and a certain tour company even told us "not to bother, everyone goes to Serra dos Tucanos". But there was a huge amount of interest in REGUA and this encouraged us to return the following year. After four years representing REGUA on the World Land Trust stand, Rachel and I were invited by Rick and Elis Simpson (now of Wader Quest), to share their stand in 2011, before running our first independent stand in 2012.

REGUA team 2016 - (from left) Alan Martin, Sue Healey, Lee Dingain, Rachel Walls, Raquel Locke and Nicholas Locke (Photo by
Edson Endrigo)

REGUA team 2007 - (from left) Rachel Walls, Lee Dingain and Martin Smart

The REGUA stand at the Birdfair over this period has been instrumental in REGUA becoming a well known birding and natural history destination. A large number of people have now visited REGUA (and REGUA and Serra dos Tucanos frequently recommend each other), including on tours run by many British and US bird tour companies who visit the reserve annually, and bed nights at the lodge have increased from just a couple of hundred in 2007 to over 1900 in 2015, generating much needed funds for conserving the Atlantic Forest of the Guapiaçu watershed.

Birdfair 2016 coincided with the end of the World Land Trust's Olympic Forest Reserve Appeal, to raise £40,000 to purchase 221 ha of primary Atlantic Forest (an extremely rare habitat with only around 2% remaining) in the upper Guapiaçu valley. Emotions were high late afternoon on Saturday at the World Land Trust stand when Debbie Pain, the CEO of the World Land Trust, announced that a fantastic £45,000 has been raised! A huge thank you to the World Land Trust and everybody who donated.

Other personal highlights include the two talks given by Nicholas to packed houses, seeing many old friends and past visitors to REGUA (far too many to name here), meeting lots of new friends, some new writing commissions, a productive meeting about an exciting project with the Neotropical Bird Club, catching up with the Wader Quest team, and an excellent talk by ex-fellow London birder Mark Pearson about migration at Filey Bird Observatory.

Running a stand for REGUA at the Birdfair each year takes a lot of preparation and hard work over many weeks before the event, not only from me but also from Rachel Walls (who organises everything) and Sue Healey. I'll admit that at times I do get very tired of it, but seeing the progress we've made in promoting REGUA over the last ten years makes it all worthwhile, not only for the help this provides with preserving the Atlantic Forest of the Guapiaçu watershed, but also for all the people we've met and memories made. I'm already looking forward to Birdfair 2017.


  1. Strange how something can drive you insane and keep you sane at the same time! Brilliant summing up Lee, and thanks to you both for letting me be part of something so special. Here's to 2017!

    1. Make no mistake, your efforts and contribution have been just as valuable Sue and REGUA is as much your project as it is anyone's. Thank you so much for everything you have done over the years. There's a lot more insanity to come for all of us I suspect, but then we wouldn't have it any other way!