The Wild Women of Birdfair
The muddy boots have been hung up, new books packed away, and my bird nerd hangover has finally subsided. The come down from my first Birdfair has been a shock to the system. I’m no longer surrounded by nature enthusiasts who are happy to drop anything to talk at length about the wild world, there are no top of the range optics on hand to try out, and no endless book stalls to trawl through. Luckily though, just outside my window, flitting through the conifer trees that tap on the van roof, is a goldcrest. A quiet, delicate reminder that wild is everywhere – even in the smallest of forms.
Today, I find myself reflecting a little bit differently on the weekend. I’m not thinking about the birds, or the fancy optics, today I’m reflecting on the people I met, the people I saw talk and share both their knowledge and their passion. And when I say people, I mean women.
Saturday morning, I hurried along to catch a talk by the biologist, writer and conservationist Amy-Jane Beer. A talk about wild women and the importance of women owning their wild selves and connecting with nature in a way that is right for them. Nature is a free for all, it’s not just a man’s world; why can’t a woman head out into the wild and spend the night alone under the stars (or in a hedgerow as Amy did). The point she made about how if a man seeks out wild it’s normal, but if a woman does it, she’s brave and courageous really resonated with me. She’s not, she’s just seeking out her wild roots, the wild roots we all have.
I left that talk in a bit of a daze, my skin pricked, senses heightened, beliefs reinforced and a new sense of instilled confidence. I was buzzing with ideas and inspiration and I wanted to go out and seek the wild for myself.
That wild passion is alive in plenty of the other women I met at the weekend, whether they were tour leaders, conservationists, writers, photographers, science communicators, wildlife lovers…
The list is endless because there are so many wild women out there living their truths and chasing their natural born right to nature.
I attended that talk with Rebecca Gibson, wildlife writer and photographer from On the Wing. She pours her love of all things wild into her beautiful words, that paint pictures of places for others to experience. Another example of a wonderful wild woman.
Sunday was another fabulously wild day.
It started off with a fantastic talk about eco anxiety from two fantastic female conservationists, Alex Pearce (Life on the Lizard) and Lucy Hodson from the amazing New Nature Magazine. Their love for this planet and the importance of preserving it for the future rang through. The belief they had in the next generation, and the need for us to support them, listen to their voices and help them navigate this worrying time, is one we can all get behind.
The last talk I attended was by nature writer (and Writer-In-Residence for Forestry England) Tiffany Francis. Tiffany was telling us about her new book, Dark Skies, and how it led her to explore nature after dark. Often walking and travelling alone, I think that’s a fantastic example of what Amy spoke about in her talk – it shouldn’t be shocking for a woman to head out into the wilds, that experience is there for everyone.
Of course, this is just a small selection of the many wild women that were present at Birdfair this year, I only wished I had more time to visit more talks and chat to more people…I guess I will just have to go back next year.
I feel truly inspired to have listened to so many stories and experiences, and they just reiterate my beliefs that nature is there for everyone, on whatever level you find most comfortable. Whether you’re male or female, young or old, it does not discriminate. Whether you trek the Icknield Way or just potter about in the back garden – nature has something for all.
What we need to do is support each other in our quests for wildness, no matter how epic or humble they may seem.
Ask questions, offer support but most of all encourage.