Announcing Autumnwatch 2010
Autumn is one of the most dramatic, spectacular, beautiful - and unpredictable - times of year. I'm sure you've already sensed that autumn is in the air, with that gorgeous September light picking out the reds of rose hips and firethorn berries and the flash of red admiral butterflies on the last of the summer flowers. My daughter even had her first kick-through-fallen-leaves on the way to school this morning.
It therefore gives me immense pleasure to announce that Autumnwatch is back! Autumnwatch returns to BBC TWO on Thursdays (yes, Thursdays, not Fridays, this year) from 7th October at 8.30pm to 9.30pm, immediately followed by Autumnwatch Unsprung (hoorah!) every Thursday from 9.30pm to 10pm. Once a week for eight weeks, we'll be watching autumn with you from the beginning to the end of this exhilarating season.
(Update 30th September: Please tell Martin and the Unsprung team about your wildlife stories, observations, questions, photos and videos here.)
Autumnwatch is back. Join Chris and Kate from 7th Oct on BBC Two, Thursdays, 8.30pm.
The presenters and specialist camera teams will be back on the road, tracking the key events of autumn across the UK, visiting new places, and revealing new and surprising wildlife stories, as they happen. Each week, we'll be giving you all the latest news and views and encouraging you to get out and enjoy autumn's wildlife treats for yourself, whether you live out in the wilds or in the depths of the city.
And of course we want to hear from you about what you're seeing, what questions you have, what photos you're taking and what amazing video footage you've captured. As in previous series, what you tell us - through surveys, debates, the blog and the messageboard - will be at the heart of what we do on TV and on our website. It's your show, so we're really looking forward to hearing from you.
Much of what we are doing this year follows a similar pattern to our re-format of Autumnwatch in 2009... though of course nature always writes us a different script and contributions from our viewers constantly add surprise and variety. Chris Packham and Kate Humble will be off on autumnal adventures in a different part of the country each week, whilst Martin Hughes-Games will be keeping a close eye on what the viewers are up to, chasing down topical stories each week and, of course, hosting Autumnwatch Unsprung, our viewer-led, informal gathering at the end of each Autumnwatch.
However, there are a few key changes to announce this time. Simon King has announced that he is leaving the Springwatch/Autumnwatch presenter team to pursue other interests. Simon is a legend in his field, of immense skill and experience. He's been an integral part of the team for the last six years and we wish him well in his future ventures.
So, new for this year, each week we'll get an expert view of autumn in a set of special feature reports appropriate to each stage of the season. Delving deeper into some of autumn's key characters, events and experiences, this will be an intimate and personal view, brought to us by people who know it the best. Look out for some old friends and some new faces. Gordon Buchanan's back, as is Charlie Hamilton-James (now of Halcyon River Diaries fame) and our sound-wizard Chris Watson; Nick Baker joins us for a week; our Welsh viewers will recognise their very own Iolo Williams and those from Northern Ireland will welcome Darryl Grimason.
More on these and other special guests and friends of Autumnwatch - on this blog over the coming days. Look out also for details of Chris, Kate and Martin's upcoming adventures, from the heart of London and the stunning coast of west Scotland, to the glories of an autumn woodland and the wilds of Northern Ireland; and our famous live webcams will be back, this time in the Orkneys in northern Scotland, bringing you all the family dramas of the grey seal pupping season. We have a veritable feast for you!
We're delighted to announce that we'll be continuing with our regular live link to our friends at the BBC Weather Centre who will give us our very own wildlife-watching weather forecast. Weather has a huge effect on migration - one of the great spectacles, and natural wonders, of the autumn - with an incredible 60 million birds on the move around the UK. In a weekly "Migration Watch" report, we'll give you the latest news on our migrants, explain how to track these arrivals and departures, and what to expect where. You can start following this autumn's migration news on our website right now, courtesy of our friends at the British Trust for Ornithology.
What has this year of extreme weather - from snow to floods and drought - meant for our wildlife around the UK and how will all of this shape autumn 2010? Back in August, our friends at the Woodland Trust were suggesting that our late spring is likely to shunt our autumn a bit later this year. Experts at the Forestry Commission, looking back at records of similar years, have been hinting at the possibility of a good year for autumn colour. And just today, the National Trust are predicting a bumper year for the wild autumn harvest of nuts and berries due to favourable conditions at the right times during the summer. How will the autumn turn out? We'll be there to find out and we hope you'll join us.
Autumn is one of the most dramatic, spectacular, beautiful times of the year. Photo: autumn mist by Darrell Jordan
There's already lots of stuff on the Autumnwatch/Nature UK website to get you in the mood, and there'll be more coming as we approach the start of the series. We've suggested our top 20 autumn nature activities; early signs of autumn to look out for; a celebration of all things rotting and decaying in your garden, as well as some of our favourite fungi photos and gorgeous early autumn photos from our already active BBC Autumnwatch Flickr Group.
So what are you looking forward to most this autumn, and in this year's Autumnwatch? Do tell us below.
More from me and the Autumnwatch team soon, as our rapidly-evolving plans emerge and as nature begins to declare its hand.
Bye for now...
Tim Scoones, Autumnwatch Executive Producer