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Springwatch, Shetland and Bee Part of It

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Helen Needham | 15:50 UK time, Friday, 21 May 2010

Helen Needham is the senior producer of Out of Doors and Beechgrove Potting Shed.

With the BBC's annual naturefest, Springwatch upon us, it's a chance for us on the Out of Doors team to shine. We spend our entire lives telling people how wonderful nature is and trying to encourage people to get out and about. Last week was a real highlight for us, with the programme coming live from Sumburgh Head in Shetland.

The Out of Doors team

We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day and from our vantage point by the lighthouse, we could see puffins, guillemots, fulmars, great skuas, arctic skuas and lots more kinds of birds nesting in the cliffs. The only thing missing was killer whales, which are regularly spotted there...as Shetlander's are all too quick to exclaim, 'If only you'd been here last week'!

Whilst our star presenter Mark Stephen headed off to South Africa to record a programme for BBC Radio 4, Euan McIlwraith and I spent Wednesday visiting places with a Springwatch connection. He was rather scathing about the two nature reserves he visited at Lenzie and Kilsyth - appearances can be deceptive - but he came away truly inspired by the presence of medicinal mosses and a the very rare kidney spot ladybird.

Meanwhile, I headed to the National Trust for Scotland's Kellie Castle in Fife, which is home to BBC Radio Scotland's beehive. It's all part of a scheme called 'Bee Part of It' where the BBC are trying to create more habitats for bees. I was lucky enough to witness a swarm of bees being introduced to the hive for the first time - a truly wonderful experience. Over the coming months, we'll be returning to Kellie Castle to chart their progress.

Whilst I was there, I also took time to visit the 400 year old walled garden, which was just magical. Being there was like stepping into another world, where fruit and veg were treated with equal credence. I recorded a piece with Head Gardener, Mark Armour, which will be on the Beechgrove Potting Shed this Sunday 23 May. I managed to pick up a tip for our patio garden too - plant French marigolds next to carrots to keep away the carrot fly.

marigolds and carrots

French marigolds next to carrots in the Beechgrove Potting Shed's Patio Garden.

This week - because Mark Stephen is in South Africa (it's a hard life being a radio presenter) - BBC Radio Scotland's travel presenter, Theresa Talbot's in the chair. She's a lady of many talents, and is a keen gardener. There's also a change to our normal Sunday schedule, when Euan McIlwraith and Katie Still present a special Springwatch programme from the YMCA in Orbiston, South Lanarkshire from eleven. Anyone's welcome to head along and help them transform a piece of ground into a wildlife haven.

And just to prove - in the spirit of Springwatch - that you don't have to go far to encounter spectacular wildlife, on my drive in to work this morning between Montrose and Stonehaven, I saw a pod of dolphins leaping out of the calm waters of the North Sea. Perfect!


  • Comment number 1.

    Travel presenter? I wasn't aware radio scotland had a travel programme. Or do you mean traffic/travel reporter.

    Out of Doors is beginning to bore me. It's a very repetitive and only really has a 12 month shelf life, tops. After a year it's just the same things over again. And, to be honest, as a license fee payer, I often just feel that I'm sending Mark and Euan and Helen off to do the same fun things at no cost the them. I'm losing count of the number of times I've heard Mark go on a great trip boat trip or Euan try a climbing course that would cost mere mortals hundreds of pounds...whilst simultaneously plugging places like Glen More lodge. Free advertising - lucky them!!

  • Comment number 2.

    I love Out of Doors. Its one of the best programmes on Radio Scotland. If you ask me, its scheduling is awful for the main programme, Why have it on so early at a weekend.

    The podcast is fantastic as well. The programme is informative and also entertaining.

  • Comment number 3.

    Fair enough - each to their own. I stick to my opinions though that the programme has a short shelf-life, after which it's the same 'seasonal' repeats of features and items, and that I get irritated with the often-patronising presenters being sent on free jollies, whilst plugging commercial companies. Oh, and I don't understand how you can say you like the programme and the podcast...when the podcast is just clips of the programme

  • Comment number 4.

    I was meaning the podcast is a great thing for people like me who can't always catch the full programme or who just want the 'highlights'. I meant i like the programme as a whole as well as the podcast for the above reasons.

    I really can't see where you're coming from with the presenters going off to do features. Thats the nature of the programme, there wouldn't be a programme if they just stayed in Aberdeen.The same principle could be used for news programmes if reporters didn't leave the studio and chase the story. It would be dull.

    On the subject of advertising, you may have a point. Perhaps its unavoidable not to mention commercial companies.

  • Comment number 5.

    BUt some companies are used repeatedly, when there are plenty of others out there.

    Fair point regarding the podcast/programme - apologies for the misunderstanding.

    And my frustration with the features relates to the shelf-life aspect - every year the presenters get to do the same fun things - albeit with a slight different. And in terms of their audience - if one of the presenters goes (for free) on, say, an ince climbing or canoeing or walking weekend - how much does that cost for the fee-paying person to do? Several hundred pounds. Not really a true representation of Scotland Outdoors.


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