Doñana Bird Fair, 1-4 May, 2014

Doñana Bird Fair, 1-4 May, 2014 

It is 60 years since the foundation of the Spanish Ornithological Society – SEO/BirdLife – whose functioning in those early days was largely due to persons such as Francisco Bernis, Mauricio González-Gordon, José Antonio Valverde, José Manuel Rubio and a handful of ornithological pioneers who carried out expeditions to Doñana in which British ornithologists such as Guy Mountfort, Max Nicholson, Phil Hollom and others from the British Ornithological Union also took part and which are detailed in the splendid book ‘Portrait of a Wilderness’. This work enabled the start of the Sociedad Española de Ornitología (SEO) back in May 1954.
In many ways Doñana has been the scene and starting point for deeds and projects which have been decisive for the conservation of birds and wildlife in Spain and the rest of the world. It is thanks to those pioneering experts that then was born what is today SEO/BirdLife. It is important to remember that date now as one of those pioneers, Mauricio González-Gordon, died in 2013 and this has encouraged the SEO to celebrate the holiday weekend of 1 May 2014 with the Doñana International Bird Fair, Memorial to Mauricio González Gordon. It is the intention of SEO/BirdLife that this fair should be a big celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the SEO and, especially, a meeting of the greatest number of birders possible in the splendid surroundings of Doñana and Dehesa de Abajo.
 Throughout the 60 years of its existence the SEO has taken part in campaigns in defence of birds and wildlife in all places and environments in the Spanish territory, both peninsular and in the two archipelagos. In prime position, Doñana itself, then the efforts at reclamation of the wetlands of the Tablas de Daimiel, the former bombing range at Cabañeros, the splendid scenery and avifauna of Monfragüe, the introduction of ecological rice production as well as other actions within the Ebro Delta, the marshes of the Marismas de Santoña and a large et cetera.. SEO/BirdLife has always been present and giving battle for the protection of the vast natural patrimony within Spain and, if it is possible, even more so where the battle has involved the protection of menaced species, be they in danger or vulnerable in the face if any aggression.

Since its foundation in 1954, SEO/BirdLife defined itself as a scientific body dedicated to the inextricably linked study and conservation of birds. For decades, with the help of members and collaborators, it has carried out the enormous task of bettering the knowledge of the Spanish avifauna. There has been a multitude of projects ranging from the censusing of migrant birds, especially the soaring species, in the Strait of Gibraltar which was started by Professor Bernis with GEMRA, the annual reports of the Rare Birds Committee (Comité de Rarezas – CR), the breeding and wintering birds atlases, all the censuses, monographic works and long-term censusing, all carried out thanks to the hundreds of collaborators, and not least the scientific investigations published in the journal Ardeola.
Independently of Spanish ornithologists visiting other areas within Spain, there are thousands of ornithologists from central European countries who wish to know and see the birds of the great Spanish birding meccas: Extremadura, Gallocanta, the Pyrenées, the Ebro Delta, Doñana, the Strait of Gibraltar … The Doñana International Bird Fair, 1-4 Mayo, 2014, will, apart from being a great opportunity to celebrate 60 years of the SEO, enable the meeting of both amateur and professional ornithologists in spectacle of spring in Doñana. The SEO does not see the Bird Fair as a purely commercial or professional encounter but a birding festival open to all those who enjoy birding and the environments in which they practice it. 
The site selected for the Doñana International Bird Fair is the reserve of La Dehesa de Abajo. Dehesa de Abajo lies within the bounds of the town of Puebla del Río at less than 30 minutes from Seville. The reserve has a visitors centre with all the installations necessary in order guarantee the success of the bird fair. La Dehesa de Abajo covers an area of 700 hectares within which there is the largest colony of White Storks in Europe and which breed in the wild olives. In the lake, La Cañada de la Rianzuela, there are large numbers of many of the most representative species to be seen in Doñana: flamingos, marbled ducks, white-headed ducks, red-knobbed coots …, not to mention raptors, gulls, terns and waders, herons and egrets and these sum more than 100 species at the time of spring the fair will take place. Dehesa de Abajo is surrounded by rice paddies and large forests of stone pines in which, apart from many bird species, there lives the extremely scarce Iberian Lynx.
In addition to the infrastructures at Dehesa de Abajo, the bird fair can count on the Franciso Bernis Ornithological Centre in the middle of the village of El Rocio in the municipality of Almonte and by the wetland of  la Madre de Las Marismas. This infrastructure in the very heart of the area of Natural Doñana in El Rocio will be the direct connection to the Doñana Bird Fair from Huelva, crossing the National Park and visiting sites such as the Antonio Valverde Centre in the FAO, Entremuros or the Guadiamar green corridor.

The Doñana Bird Fair is to celebrate 60 years since its inauguration and will take place between 1 and 4 May 2014 with a notable celebration. The fair will bring together activities related to the observation, instruction and enjoyment of the birds of Doñana and will bring together amateurs and professionals as well national and foreign exhibitors. The SEO is most grateful for the support of the Rutland Bird Fair organisation from Great Britain, the biggest birdwatching fair in the world. In the installations of Dehesa de Abajo visitors will be able to listen to talks, see projections, assist at workshops for observation and photography and take part in some competitions. 

So, if you are interested in seeing good birds, meeting fellow birders and so on, come along. And if you see me and want to chat, please do come and say ‘hi’ (or something). I shall be there for all four days.

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