Wildlife at work
Here at Autumnwatch Towers, I work in an open plan office and for much of the day I'm glued to my computer, wading through an ever expanding email inbox, and generally helping sort out whatever it takes to get Autumnwatch Live on the air every Friday night. But if I look up and out of the window across the office, I can see a glimpse of a different world. Now the leaves have almost fallen, the shard-like towers of the 1970s Catholic Cathedral have been revealed through the bare branches of the trees outside. And atop these towers, a couple of specks.
Just specks, but very exciting ones. Because these are Bristol's urban peregrines, the fastest animals on the planet, and I've been lucky enough to watch their daily lives over the city for the past few years.
A quick discussion in the Autumnwatch office revealed some great wildlife spots right here at BBC Bristol. Our executive producer Tim saw a jay caching acorns in a plant pot two floors up outside a meeting room. Unsprung researcher Sam spotted a long-tailed tit's nest in a bush by an office. And on the night shift, our security guards have been avidly watching the nocturnal adventures of the resident fox family.
There was even a moment a few years back which has gone down in the annals of the Natural History Unit. When waxwings appeared in the car park, emails chimed and phones rang as the news spread from office to office like wildfire. Work on every project from Springwatch to the latest Attenborough epic ground to a halt as half the building emptied to watch these beautiful winter visitors.
If I include my walk to work, or a lunchtime stroll, the list gets even longer. I've watched a charm of goldfinches weave their way through the city trees, and even seen ravens and buzzards soar over my street. And there's nothing that can give me a lift like walking home to the soundtrack of my local blackbird, singing his heart out from a tree top perch. My commute has become a time to take a breath, relax, and tune in to the world and wildlife all around.
Sculpted from tarmac, concrete and glass, the urban world can look hostile to any kind of life. But as Chris and Michaela's trip to Sheffield has shown, cities provide many of the things our wildlife needs to survive - food, homes, and safety. Wild creatures will find away to make the best of almost every opportunity, however unlikely it might look to us.
The key is to look at the urban world in a different way, the way an animal would see it. Then, buildings become nesting platforms for peregrines and herring gulls, a sheltered bush becomes a refuge for roosting pied wagtails, and our rubbish is an all you can eat buffet for rodents and foxes.
As the seasons change, so can the city's wildlife and its behaviour, so it can be a particularly good time to look. As we reported on Autumnwatch last year, many birds migrate over our cities; at night, but also during the day. And some pioneering birding groups are now using tower blocks and office buildings to watch and record migration in action.
In the hustle and bustle of a working day, what could possibly be better than taking a break, and snatching a few moments watching our wildlife? We'd love to hear from you about your wildlife encounters at work, on your commute, or in your lunch break. What's your top spot, or favourite sighting in the urban jungle?
Holly Spearing is the Series Producer of Autumnwatch.