The British Birdwatching Fair, popularly known as Birdfair, is always a highlight in the year for the Leica Birding team. This year, however, was extra special – with the event seeing the launch of our new Noctivid binoculars.
In spite of decidedly inclement weather conditions on the first morning of the show, the main Leica stand was packed within minutes of the gates being opened to the public as people gathered in anticipation of the new product being unveiled. As the rain beat a drumroll on the canvas of the Optics Marquee, Leica UK’s managing director Jason Heward introduced Ben Wallbott, head of sales for sport optics, to give the birding world its first glimpse of Noctivid.
The ceremonials over and done with, it was time for the fun part and guests could finally get their fingers on the newly designed focus wheels and see just what the Noctivid could do. The dismal weather conditions helped demonstrate excellent low-light performance and high light transmission, plus made the crowds very grateful for a warming coffee and reviving Leica red dot biscuit, baked specially for the occasion.
Meteorologically, the rest of the weekend was a mixed bag, which at least gave visitors the chance to see the Noctivid impress in both bright and low light, just like the Little Owl (Athene noctua) from which its name partly derives.
With demonstrations of the Leica T digiscoping kit and the full nature observation range on show in addition to the new binoculars, plus appearances from Leica Birding ambassadors Urban Birder David Lindo plus Alan Davies and Ruth Miller from The Biggest Twitch, the main stand was always busy. During drier moments, visitors also had the chance to try out optics in a more peaceful setting over at the smaller Leica Cube stand.
It was, as always, a pleasure to catch up with old friends and regular visitors as well as seeing so many new faces. One particularly welcome old friend was Dr Debbie Pain, who gave her time each day to update visitors to the Leica stand on the spoon-billed sandpiper project. Debbie, who was until very recently conservation director at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) has just been appointed as chief executive officer of the World Land Trust, which protects the world’s most biologically important and threatened habitats. We wish Debbie all the best with her new role.
As ever, the spoon-billed sandpiper team from WWT and its partners have been working extremely hard in the field, producing some encouraging results. Recently returned from Russia, their Leica equipment was on show on WWT’s stand. It had clearly been working hard too, if the thick coating of Siberian dust on the Ultravid HD-Plus binoculars and APO-Televid spotting scope was anything to go by.
It’ll soon be time for the Noctivid to get to work as well. We suspect that not everyone will put it through conditions as testing as the Siberian tundra, but we’re looking forward to hearing about your adventures with it. Authorised Leica dealers are now taking orders and delivery is scheduled to start soon.
We have to admit, this year was an extra special Birdfair for the Leica team. Watch the video here: