Springwatch, Shetland and Bee Part of It
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.
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.
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!