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Old Wednesday 1st May 2019, 19:48   #1
ErinG
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Useful Birding Kit

Hi All,

Wasnít really sure where to post this.

Iíve recently started work at a nature reserve in the West Midlands and at current although a very popular birding spot, this isnít really reflected in the shop.

Iím keen to change this and wondered what sort of things would you like to see in a shop on a reserve? Would it be books? What would be most useful to you?

Would you want to buy higher end items (binoculars, scopes etc) from a specialist?

Thanks in advance

Erin
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Old Wednesday 1st May 2019, 20:01   #2
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Hi Erin

The reserve I go to near here, has quite a lot of bird food and feeders for sale including peanut butter (Meridian is the one they sell). I presume it sells well there, as they've been stocking feed for many years. However, it is Loch of the Lowes, so attracts many visitors to see the Ospreys.

They also sell binoculrs, books, souvenirs, novelties, coffee (machine) and biscuits. And run optics events occasionally.... well at least 1 a year that is.
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Old Wednesday 1st May 2019, 20:39   #3
ErinG
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Hi Erin

The reserve I go to near here, has quite a lot of bird food and feeders for sale including peanut butter (Meridian is the one they sell). I presume it sells well there, as they've been stocking feed for many years. However, it is Loch of the Lowes, so attracts many visitors to see the Ospreys.

They also sell binoculrs, books, souvenirs, novelties, coffee (machine) and biscuits. And run optics events occasionally.... well at least 1 a year that is.

Thanks Delia,

We have bird seed and feeders, some books but these are more general birding books and books for kids.

If it stocked equipment for being out in the field - note books, tripods, binocular harness, hides, scopes etc would you be inclined to buy from there? Or would you go online or to a specialist shop?
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Old Wednesday 1st May 2019, 21:07   #4
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Thanks Delia,

We have bird seed and feeders, some books but these are more general birding books and books for kids.

If it stocked equipment for being out in the field - note books, tripods, binocular harness, hides, scopes etc would you be inclined to buy from there? Or would you go online or to a specialist shop?
Hi Erin.... well I'm a bit of an oddity (but don't tell everyone that please). I don't really like buying stuff on line if I can avoid it - I've never used what'sitbay and don't even have a Paypal account. My last pair of binoculars I bought from Loch of the Lowes and got a bungee type neck strap for my camera from the RSPB shop at Loch Leven when I was there last year.

If I was looking for bins or a scope/tripod, I'd certainly look at what you had and would also probably check out a specialist shop (though that's getting harder round here - 20 miles away for 1 shop!)
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Old Wednesday 1st May 2019, 21:16   #5
Farnboro John
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Snacks that people like, not that are "worthy".... that means Coke, Mars bar, M&M, not unheard-of-fairtrade-tasteless-naffbar.
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Old Wednesday 1st May 2019, 23:22   #6
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There are plenty of really tasty Fairtrade snacks out there (eg Ubuntu cola is well tasty!) and studies show that lifting people out of poverty simply by giving them a decent price for their labour and products can have a really positive environmental impact. Things like shade-grown coffee are also good for people and planet. One of the easiest things birders can do to make a positive difference to wildlife is to support sustainably produced goods. Nature reserves are ideal places to promote and sell such merchandise and it seems beyond hypocritical and plain stupid to campaign (for example) to save declining migrants from rainforest destruction then proceed to flog goods that cause conservation problems in the first place, as sadly can be seen in many nature reserve shops around the U.K.

It’s not always possible for a host of reasons, but if you are conservation minded it makes sense to at least buy some products that don’t wreck our planet. And remember that the driving force behind many companies is simply to fund another superyacht for some fat cat owner/shareholder.

Check “Ethical Consumer’ magazine for some great reporting on the profound social and environmental impact of our shopping habits.

All the best

Andrew
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 05:45   #7
ErinG
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There are plenty of really tasty Fairtrade snacks out there (eg Ubuntu cola is well tasty!) and studies show that lifting people out of poverty simply by giving them a decent price for their labour and products can have a really positive environmental impact. Things like shade-grown coffee are also good for people and planet. One of the easiest things birders can do to make a positive difference to wildlife is to support sustainably produced goods. Nature reserves are ideal places to promote and sell such merchandise and it seems beyond hypocritical and plain stupid to campaign (for example) to save declining migrants from rainforest destruction then proceed to flog goods that cause conservation problems in the first place, as sadly can be seen in many nature reserve shops around the U.K.

Itís not always possible for a host of reasons, but if you are conservation minded it makes sense to at least buy some products that donít wreck our planet. And remember that the driving force behind many companies is simply to fund another superyacht for some fat cat owner/shareholder.

Check ďEthical Consumerí magazine for some great reporting on the profound social and environmental impact of our shopping habits.

All the best

Andrew
Hi Andrew,

Thank you for the feedback, really appreciate it. We are really keen to support local businesses and be as ethical as we can be. We have locally made honey, chocolates, ale etc and are really looking to increase our local selection. This will support local businesses but also reduces the emissions of delivery etc.

We are hoping to grow our sustainable selection - reusable cups, bamboo products in the aim to encourage people to think about their habits. Itís the Ďthink global, act localí we are hoping for.

Iíll have a look at Ethical Consumer thank you.
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 05:46   #8
ErinG
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Hi Erin.... well I'm a bit of an oddity (but don't tell everyone that please). I don't really like buying stuff on line if I can avoid it - I've never used what'sitbay and don't even have a Paypal account. My last pair of binoculars I bought from Loch of the Lowes and got a bungee type neck strap for my camera from the RSPB shop at Loch Leven when I was there last year.

If I was looking for bins or a scope/tripod, I'd certainly look at what you had and would also probably check out a specialist shop (though that's getting harder round here - 20 miles away for 1 shop!)
Iím the same! I like to see what Iím buying and hold it! 😊

Really appreciate the feedback thank you.
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 07:47   #9
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Erin, I'm assuming that you are not at Brandon Marsh near Coventry; if you are then I don't think you need to change anything! We visit from time to time and I have always been very impressed with the shop there. To be truthful I spend more in the Badgers cafe than the shop but everyone there seems friendly and helpful so it might be worth a visit to see for yourself. There is nothing wrong with looking, choosing the best ideas and using them for your own ends!
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 15:11   #10
Farnboro John
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Originally Posted by Andrew Clarke View Post
There are plenty of really tasty Fairtrade snacks out there (eg Ubuntu cola is well tasty!) and studies show that lifting people out of poverty simply by giving them a decent price for their labour and products can have a really positive environmental impact.

It’s not always possible for a host of reasons, but if you are conservation minded it makes sense to at least buy some products that don’t wreck our planet. And remember that the driving force behind many companies is simply to fund another superyacht for some fat cat owner/shareholder.

Check “Ethical Consumer’ magazine for some great reporting on the profound social and environmental impact of our shopping habits.

All the best

Andrew
There's only one good reason to buy a food item and that's because its nice to eat. I'm happy to drink fairtrade tea at home and at work because the Sainsbury's fairtrade Kenya teabags are miles better than PG, Tetley etc.

I haven't encountered Ubuntu Cola and if they do a diet version I might at least give it a go: but my experience from RSPB reserves around the country is that much fairtrade stuff is actually quite horrible, and its worthiness is not a good reason for buying it. Incidentally I heartily dislike Pepsi's cola products: for me its Diet Coke or nothing as a rule. That's where the bar sits.

Instead I will, unless I know decent food is available, load my car up with the stuff I do like, adding weight to its load and thereby burning ever so slightly more fossil fuel to get to the reserve: so the RSPB (or any other conservation organisation) has a real incentive apart from their own profit margin to ensure they only supply products that are worth having - and perhaps compromise a little to make sure of getting the business from their visitors.

Life is too short to waste time and money on magazines like "Ethical Consumer". (It would eat into my BF time!) If its a decent product it will be on shelves and flying off them. If its not I'm not going to buy it anyway.

Time for a mug of Kenya tea.....

John
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 19:07   #11
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Yay, you tell them John :)
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 21:01   #12
ErinG
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Erin, I'm assuming that you are not at Brandon Marsh near Coventry; if you are then I don't think you need to change anything! We visit from time to time and I have always been very impressed with the shop there. To be truthful I spend more in the Badgers cafe than the shop but everyone there seems friendly and helpful so it might be worth a visit to see for yourself. There is nothing wrong with looking, choosing the best ideas and using them for your own ends!
David
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Old Saturday 4th May 2019, 10:58   #13
Andrew Clarke
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There's only one good reason to buy a food item and that's because its nice to eat. I'm happy to drink fairtrade tea at home and at work because the Sainsbury's fairtrade Kenya teabags are miles better than PG, Tetley etc.

I haven't encountered Ubuntu Cola and if they do a diet version I might at least give it a go: but my experience from RSPB reserves around the country is that much fairtrade stuff is actually quite horrible, and its worthiness is not a good reason for buying it. Incidentally I heartily dislike Pepsi's cola products: for me its Diet Coke or nothing as a rule. That's where the bar sits.

Instead I will, unless I know decent food is available, load my car up with the stuff I do like, adding weight to its load and thereby burning ever so slightly more fossil fuel to get to the reserve: so the RSPB (or any other conservation organisation) has a real incentive apart from their own profit margin to ensure they only supply products that are worth having - and perhaps compromise a little to make sure of getting the business from their visitors.

Life is too short to waste time and money on magazines like "Ethical Consumer". (It would eat into my BF time!) If its a decent product it will be on shelves and flying off them. If its not I'm not going to buy it anyway.

Time for a mug of Kenya tea.....

John
John

You know as well as I that flavour is crucial when it comes to food but surely it isn’t the only reason to eat something? I’ve had a few Fairtrade/organic drinks and snacks over the years that I wouldn’t buy again as they tasted horrible. But it’s perfectly possible these days to purchase many tasty foodstuffs at a reasonable price while also understanding that the companies behind them support conservation and lift people out of poverty.

I’m far from being ‘Mr Right On’ and have many questionable lifestyle, consumer preferences etc. Life isn’t black and white and many factors influence our shopping habits. But it’s good to buy ethically when you can. Many things are too expensive, uncomfortable, poor quality etc for me to buy. And I would never judge anyone for what they eat or other aspects of their lifestyle! I’d rather share a meal at a dinner party prepared with good intentions and in stimulating company than start whingeing about some of the ingredients. I’ve always enjoyed cuisine from all over the planet and have no intention of stopping. Food is a link to one’s culture, heritage and traditions apart from just nutritional value. And I really do hate preachy food fascists - what’s right for one isn’t necessarily right for everyone else. I always say it’s far more important what comes out of your mouth than what goes in it!

However, having studied agricultural systems and their impact on the environment, met the victims of pesticide poisoning, grown produce organically and had some really scary health issues over the years I’m cynical about the safety of much chemical based agriculture. I also worked in one of the first Fairtrade shops in the U.K. back in the 80’s and have met people from countries producing these goods. I’m aware of the positive effect that the items in our shopping baskets can make and fully endorse products that are good for humans and the environment.

We really don’t realise how lucky we are over here - there are many problems in Wales and the rest of the U.K. but we don’t have to cope with some of the pressure others face daily. So many people worldwide are shit poor because they just happen to have been born in undemocratic countries controlled by exploitative dictators who are only interested in material wealth. As someone discussed recently half of the poachers trashing wildlife in Kenya live in utter poverty and do what they do simply to survive. Ensuring people have a regular income, have enough to eat, have access to water, sanitation and an education for their kids can have a positive impact on the environment as they don’t have to resort to destructive practises out of desperation.

Getting into birding made me realise the profound effects that humans have on global ecology and my part in it. I became interested in wider green issues and this led to an awareness of associated philosophy etc. I believe that conservation organisations should do as much as they can to promote and sell sustainable goods that are beneficial for people and planet. Why run campaigns on climate change in the reserve shops then have shelves full of plastic toys and other crap for kids to blow their pocket money on when there are so many decent alternatives? Plastic toys are fine in moderation (I buy them for small people sometimes) and it’s an invaluable material for some applications, but considering the ecological footprint it seems weird for environmental organisations with massive purchasing power to continue to flog so much of it.

Looking at the wider picture you could argue that the considerable amount of money most of us spend annually on food (and which farming systems we support) has a far greater effect on agricultural landscapes that the small change we spend on subscriptions to RSPB et al.

Always look forward to your contributions on here so wouldn’t want anything to eat into your BF time - but don’t dismiss ‘Ethical Consumer’ if you haven’t read it. It’s quite an eye opener.

Erin - sounds like you’re doing some good work

Must buy you both a pint of Ubuntu cola if we ever meet!

All the best

Andrew

Last edited by Andrew Clarke : Saturday 4th May 2019 at 18:09.
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Old Saturday 4th May 2019, 12:15   #14
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Hi Andrew,

Given our privileged position as consumers in a Western democracy - and that a million chavs across the country have demonstrated just how unhealthy a diet can keep a human going for long enough to reach adulthood (I won't say maturity) and breed before dying at a great age compared to the third world - there is no reason to eat something that tastes bad. So the only real reason to eat something is because it tastes good.

For the rest, I simply say what I've always said: the main problem with humans - and the part that leads to unsustainability though not to issues such as plastic in the oceans - is too many of 'em: and until everyone faces that full on and stops this incessant, uncontrolled and worst of all applauded generation of rugrats there's literally no hope for wildlife anywhere, except perhaps some Brown Rats and urban foxes. If there were half as many people there would be half as many emissions, its simple arithmetic: half as much land under the plough, half the amount of fertilisers, half the harvest from the ocean - you get the idea. I hope!

I've always tried to keep an open mind on new flavours so I will keep a rain check on that pint of Ubuntu Cola

Cheers

John
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Old Saturday 4th May 2019, 12:24   #15
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I wasn't going to offer anything further on this thread but as John has gone slightly off topic I'll come back and agree with him. In my lifetime the human population has trebled and it's obvious to me that the planet can't sustain this. I don't have an answer but that doesn't mean there isn't a problem and putting heads in sand as all the glorious leaders of the world are doing won't achieve anything.
OK I've said my bit, sorry Erin, I'll go and stand in the corner.
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Old Sunday 5th May 2019, 19:30   #16
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Well, since the thread seems to have gone slightly OT for some reason I'll add my thoughts and then shut up. I am with Andrew on this one. My family and I (and many birders we know) love birdwatching because we are nature lovers at large, so we try to be as respectful towards the environment as we can, given of course that we lead a "normal" western lifestyle, involving cars, expensive gadgets, foreign travel (two of us are also keen skiers), so we can't be too sanctimonious. We do try our best: we are vegetarians, we try to buy local, organic produce as much as possible, and fair trade for stuff that can't be grown here like tea, coffee, bananas etc., we also try to buy good quality clothing that will last, use shampoo bars etc. Of course our ecological footprint is still huge compared to that of someone in a developing country, still I believe in starting from the small things in everyday life.

So, if saw Coca-cola or Mars bars in a nature reserve shop or cafť I would be hugely disappointed, as these brands are notorious for not respecting the environment (and in some instances not even human rights) and the creatures, feathered or not, who live in it. There are some excellent fair trade chocolate bars out there as well as t-shirts made with natural fabrics and "sustainable" toys and gadgets. I remember being well impressed with the shop at the RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garten, which stocked vegetarian sandwiches, not a sight we are used to - and they were pretty good too!
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Old Monday 6th May 2019, 19:26   #17
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Really interesting to see people’s views thank you. I went to a talk by Tim Mackrill on Ospreys last week and he was talking about a fantastic project he has started in Africa to encourage and educated people about Ospreys as that’s their winter destination. There is always a bigger picture to look at.

On a (hopefully) less controversial topic - current sightings at Brandon Marsh include the cuckoos, a passing Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Hobby and Garganey ��
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