When needs become mass purchases a small industry is not far off - Ian Wallace 1981.
Prophetic words from a great bird artist and a wonderful storyteller. Thirty years later that industry is here and self-sustaining. The pursuit of birds must contribute a significant amount in any given year to our economy. I tried to find out online just how much for this post but unlike the US where the Wildlife & Fish Service deliver a 'State of the Nation' type analysis regularly I couldn't find much for the UK that drew together all the various strands of what we do and how we spend our money, optics, travel, information, communication, books etc. We should know because it matters to those for whom birds don't matter, as the old saying goes, 'Money talks'.
Look at the hunting lobby as an example, well organised, they regularly trot out the pound signs to demonstrate how much of a contribution they make to the economy and use it to justify certain projects such as road creation across Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or when campaigning on policy issues such as laws on predator control, licences etc.
I did manage to find out a little about you though which I thought worth sharing. You may or may not be surprised to learn that you are a key target market for many commercial and non-commercial organisations who are now using sophisticated advertising techniques guided by specialist marketing and advertising companies.
Bird-watching is one of the UK’s most popular leisure pursuits with almost 500,000 people taking part on a regular basis (Source : TGI 2009) 250,000 of whom regularly access birding content online.
And you wondered why you couldn't get in the hide at Titchwell.
This is who they think we are
Highly educated – 80% have a degree or international equivalent.
Affluent – 20% earn more than £75K per annum
Young to mid-aged – 78% are under 50 years old
There might be a few eyebrows raised at the last one if the average age of my local bird club is anything to go by.
Why I am blogging this? I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to try and make a living from what I enjoy the most. I'm trying to understand how best to do this, what and where the opportunities lie and how best to take advantage of them. Understanding the 'industry' that is birding as we slip into the second decade of the 21st century is therefore valuable to me and possibly to a few others out there trying to do the same. As we end this year and decade like many I want to stand back and see what I've achieved, if anything, and start thinking about how and where I go from here to build on it but that's for another post, in a day or two.