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2012 mixtape: Bowie vs Springwatch

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Chris Packham Chris Packham | 11:21 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2012

'Aladdin Sane' was the first album I ever bought. I'd seen 'Starman' on the Christmas TOTP sat on the floor at my aunt's at the end of 1972 and was both bemused and entranced by Bowie's persona and performance. I was eleven and he was both weird and yet so wonderful. The album is on cassette and needless to say I still have it. I recall listening to it sat on my bedroom floor and studying the liquid pooling above the remodelled Ziggy's clavicle.

I went back to 'Hunky Dory' and on to 'Diamond Dogs' and 'Rebel, Rebel' remains a top ten all time favourite track. I got 'Young Americans' too but bought nothing beyond 'Low'. I remember being sat in that same bedroom, now with a record player, and playing 'Sound and Vision', getting up, and putting on 'Janie Jones' by the Clash. My world had changed and although I liked some of Bowie's stuff up till 1980, I have never got beyond that and remember loathing the rock gods 'Dancin' in the Street' in 1985. Can't argue with 'Suffragette City', 'The Jean Genie' and 'Drive In Saturday' though, and if you don't know the words to 'Space Oddity' then you've been committing 'Rock 'n' Roll Suicide'.

 It was a clean start because we were back but there had been 'Changes' but our aim was still to bring you wildlife in the best 'Sound and Vision'. Our swan family provided an instant 'Cygnet Committee', Charlie Hamilton-James was 'Aladdin Sane' to be down by his beloved river, we'd need to 'Watch That Man' Iolo Williams who was eating all the cakes and baby barn owls were 'Scary Monsters' in the roof.
Programme two and our lampreys had been on a 'Fantastic Voyage', the chaffinch nest was full of nestling 'Kooks' and the male osprey was asking his mate to 'Be My Wife' by offering her fish suppers. Kingfishers were 'The Prettiest Star' in Britain's bird fauna for many people, bank voles were 'Subterraneans'.
The baby swan was a 'Sweet Thing' but not as much so as a fox cub in programme three, Gary Moore who recorded our dragonfly breathing was a 'Starman' sound man, the barn owl chicks had a slower 'Speed Of Life' on account of their long fledging period and our little nuthatch, 'Runty', was looking 'Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed' and at the end I wondered if he might be a 'Future Legend'.
By four, poor 'Runty' had had his moment of 'Fame', you might have wondered 'What In The World' biting midges are for and our common sandpipers were watching trains moving'Station To Station'.
'Wild Is The Wind' that blows at 35mph from the north east and chilled our blue tit nestlings, the wonderful Roy Dennis is one of my ornithological 'Heroes' whose favourite birds of prey are enjoying their 'Golden Years', in 'An Occasional Dream' you might imagine finding a redstart whose nest full of youngsters are fittingly 'All the Young Dudes'.
Six. The male goldcrest's headwear strikes a perfect comparison to the iconic plumes of 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'The Width Of A Circle' as measured across a barn owl's facial disc is about nine centimetres. 'Young Americans' who write songs about great British landmarks should get some decent bird books - yeah.
Our peregrine falcons complicated family life need 'The Jean Genie' to be let out of its lamp to get the genealogy sorted, I was the 'Rebel, Rebel' who was mildly circumspect of our guest Kate McCrae's bird feeding inventions, a song thrush had been raiding the 'Moss Garden' to make its nest and it's marvellous how birds 'Fashion' these things, all in programme seven.
Eight was  a bit slow, sorry, managed 'Up The Hill Backwards' thanks to our high angle overview of Ynys-Hir and 'Big Brother' as one of the young barn owls has become a lot less downy than its nest mates. 'Blackout' later described the darkness in these birds' nesting area.
So that's 35 so far plus a few unintentionals which I don't count. 'Wild Eyed Boy From Free Cloud' , 'Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family' and 'Letter To Hermione' may be quite a challenge but there should be a few opportunities for a Hunky Dory ending.

Related links
Springwatch versus Manic Street Preachers
Springwatch 2010 - The Cure: From The Smiths to Robert
Damned Autumnwatch 2011
David Bowie (Official site)


  • Comment number 1.

    I take it Teenage Wildlife is just too easy?

  • Comment number 2.

    Btw, I did notice Michaela got Glass Spider, thought it wasn't Mr B's finest hour.

  • Comment number 3.

    Brilliant! Managed to sneak loads in there Chris....good going! :oD

  • Comment number 4.

    I don't know Chris, The weathers' not that bad, exactly how WILD IS THE WIND up there ? WHEN THE WIND BLOWS does it mess up your hair? And how come we're the same age but you're haven't suffered the CHANGES I have? You're still the height of FASHION and THE PRETTIEST STAR (even though my wife says you and Macella are like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST). I'd be TELLING LIES if I'm not jealous. While we're at it, I noticed you kept quiet about the CAT PEOPLE and their pets putting British wildlife UNDER PRESSURE. Anyway I hope you SURVIVE the next SEVEN days, keep the Woodburner on a SLOW BURN. EVERY BODY SAYS HI from Pembrokeshire and remember A REBEL NEVER GETS OLD.

  • Comment number 5.

    Chris, just when are you going to do the Cocteau Twins? Not only are they uber cool, but their song titles are made for Springwatch. Who else has ever produced lyrics composed of a list of the names of families of butterflies?

  • Comment number 6.

    i never even noticed, mind you im not really a Bowie fan , even though i do know all the words to Space oddessy

  • Comment number 7.

    Well Chris, I reckon Everyone Says Hi. I used to think you were a Heathen but now you're definitely my Starman.

  • Comment number 8.

    hello, 'Hang On To Yourself' I'm going to give this a try. I'm 'Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed' I've asked my 'Uncle Arthur' & 'Janine' from 'Sufragette City' if they could assist, they said it would be committing 'Rock & Roll Suicide' trying to make sense of it.
    'Janine' 'She's Got Medal's' for this so I thought would be ideal to assist but ended there as she's a right 'Queen Bitch.' I said this 'In The Heat Of The Morning' being a 'Silly Boy Blue' makes a great 'Conversation Piece' thought.
    So I'm off 'Looking For A Friend' who's 'Almost Grown' 'It Aint Easy' as they say 'Life Is A Circus.' So I'll quite here while I'm ahead 'Over The Wall We Go' & 'Love You Til Tuesday' 'London Bye Ta Ta..'
    I'm not a Big Bowie fan but had a browse through what I have in my collection including 'The Laughing Gnome' & gave it a go.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well done, Mr Packham. Very entertaining and you mentioned the lovely and adorable Runty and gave him his proper due so I'm appeased.

  • Comment number 10.

    Oh no, more rubbish music from Chwis. Gwow up!

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm so new to all of this. This is my first attempt at blogging or whatever they call it. I just have one simple question what bird makes the most boring noise in the world?

    I have a bird somewhere outside that makes just one tweet it never varies in pitch or length. I heard one on the programme last week in the background. Its driving me nuts.

  • Comment number 12.

    "V-2 Schneider" I still have nightmares. Is this the best way to get on a blog to ask a question? I wanted to know if there was any research on the bee & butterfly feeders and which bee and or butterflies actually use them (if any). Have bees got long enough proboscises? Be a hero and enlighten us. Many thanks

  • Comment number 13.

    Jeannie 12 I have discovered that questions rarely get answered on any blog. I've come to the conclusion that most people post to see their name in print.

  • Comment number 14.

    Chris- big bowie and clash fan my favourite is stay free top tune i meet the wife of 26 years" when we were at school "any -way watching the england game studio analayis tonight all i could hear was the screaming of the local swift colony ,they can not be fairing to well here in the midlands with the repentant low pressures we have had lately ,can we have a bit of swift conservation telly as they seem to be getting over looked . I with a few of my work mates have pursuaded a contractor to put access holes in the soffit replacements in new refurbishments by daventry Housing association and this could be highlighted in your fantastic programme as this kind of housing refurbishment is going on all over the country with out due regard to these iconic birds regards sid 78 punk souxsie members angelics devo etc etc good days

  • Comment number 15.

    The osprey was clearly feeding it's young with a rainbow trout ..... Where are they getting them from as they are not indigenous ... Is there an irate local fishery owner losing his stock??

  • Comment number 16.

    I knew there was summat going on with all the Bowie song references!! Just make sure Chris that 'All the young dudes' you work with, don't fall asleep and look up for a 'moonage daydream'!

  • Comment number 17.

    Those Cure references in full: https://youtu.be/vnNlamILQcA

  • Comment number 18.

    I have Mallards outside my back garden,but none of the chicks seem to survive as they are eaten by a stalking Heron and the inevitable crows.Cruel nature

  • Comment number 19.

    Is this unusual? We have got a Great Spotted Woodpecker busily eating seeds from our Red Hot Pokers. Well done for getting the programme on air last night after all the 'bad' weather.

  • Comment number 20.

    LoonyLynn - I would guess at a blackbird perhaps. I've heard male blackbirds make this short, high pitched call over and over again, but I can't find a recording of this online unfortunately.

    Liz Newton - They do sometimes pop up in places you wouldn't expect them. I've had one on my window feeder. This article does describe it happening, and apparantly it's the nectar they're after, not the seeds. https://bit.ly/LC36CM

  • Comment number 21.

    Thanks Chris for the Bowie references this series, I thought slipping in "Up the Hill Backwards" was the best. Personally I love this added dimension to the show and obviously share your musical tastes. First record I ever bought was Rebel Rebel.
    Reference davmcn comment 13, I think these opportunities to comment are just to reassure Watch fans that we are not alone in our passion for wildlife, however, I always wash my hands after handling creatures!

  • Comment number 22.

    Chris, Jackdaws are Black and Grey, Ravens and Crows aew Black, Magpies are Black and White - why are Jays so colourful?

  • Comment number 23.

    Well done Sir! I know we can't all be heroes (maybe just for one day) but (designer) hats off to you for the ....daimond. Dogs..... reference in the last show - impressive!!

  • Comment number 24.

    I enjoy watching Springwatch with one exception which is putting me off watching it is Chris Packham. This man has got the biggest ego that I have ever witnessed on TV. I don't how other people feel but Chris Packham is an absolute turn off with this program.


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