News from the Autumnwatch webcam team
The grey seal pupping season has to be one of the autumn spectacles. And Orkney is the place to see it with 15% of the world's grey seal population breeding here every year. Stronsay, one of Orkney's northern islands, is one of the key sites. Last year 5,000 pups were born here. You can see why Autumnwatch wanted to be a part of this.
You might be seeing a lot of this little chap on the webcams
So as well as Gordon Buchanan spending the best part of a month here filming, we'll be here for ten days to capture all the intimate moments of these pups on the web and I for one can't wait. I spent some time watching them yesterday while the rest of the team set up the equipment. Even on a sunny day, the pups looked helpless and their very existence precarious to say the least.
Not for them a spring birth with the promise of a warm summer. What these youngsters have to look forward to is a cold, dark winter in the North Sea. So they must fatten up quickly, all the while avoiding getting swept out to sea by one of the many vicious autumn storms.
The beach in Stronsay where Gordon and the webcams are set up
So what does streaming live video from a remote Scottish island entail? As some of you might remember, we did it from Rum last year when we covered another great British autumn spectacle, the red deer rut.
This year is similar but in many ways more complicated mainly because we have no base and unlike Springwatch there's no TV infrastructure to join up with. What's more, we couldn't predict where the best place to film the pups would be until we arrived on Monday.
As a consequence we have to be completely mobile. This means working entirely from two 4x4s: encoders, mixing desks, monitors, cables, computers and four cold and wet bodies... we're all going to know each other pretty well by the end of it.
Home for the next ten days or so
Those four cold and wet bodies are me (producer), Phil Windley (all-round technical guru), Jo Charlesworth (cameraman) and wildlife expert Chris Sperring, who as well as monitoring the seals and helping us tell their story will be imparting some of his knowledge about the amazing birdlife which also inhabits the island in autumn.
Special mention must go out to Jo and Phil at this moment. Both very experienced Springwatch and Autumnwatch hands, they've been working tirelessly since we got here on Monday. They're out in the driving rain and wind right now putting the last finishing touches together. (And Jo drove me all the way up here from Bristol - that deserves a medal in itself.)
Jo and Phil working tirelessly
Some good news is that we're going to be following the same seals that Gordon is filming for the TV show. We're hoping to get a live feed from his camera and also get him doing some live commentary.
Signing off now but would love to hear from anyone watching the webcams over the next few days. We'll have a dedicated messageboard topic launching very shortly, you can tweet us, or post a comment right here.
You can also join us for our adventure by following us on Facebook.