Archives for May 2009
Well, that was a worrying morning for many of you, wasn't it?!
Here's what happened. Somewhere around 9:30am the main Springwatch generator went down. This in turn closed down the camera feeds as well as the ability of the story-developers to switch between cameras. The streams, however, kept going because they are on a battery back up. And that, my friends, is why you saw nothing but blank screens for an uncomfortably long time.
As Springwatch goes quiet on Fridays, I've spent some of the afternoon scanning the Messageboards. Now as I'm sure most of you will remember, Kate promised to eat The Sofa if Simon found and filmed a real live polecat in Wales. As Simon has a host of hi-tech equipment at his disposal and has had a couple of close calls, many people on the Messageboards seem to feel that Kate should probably be sharpening her teeth in anticipation...
Just been speaking to the story-developers - the people who keep an eye on the webcams - and have got the lowdown on what you good people have been doing so as not to miss the chaffinches fledge.
Yet again the production team and the on-site presenters are gathered around the table, discussing tonight's programme. First stop, the chaffinch chicks. Will they fledge or won't they? Apparently someone on the message boards has suggested that they are waiting for a book deal. This is not a surprise as they are the stars of the show.
It's one of the defining sounds of the spring. The simple echoing call of the cuckoo which marks its return to the UK from its wintering ground in Africa. This call has become embedded into our culture and is as much a part of the British spring as village cricket, freshly cut grass and bank holiday traffic jams.
Any of you who saw the first episode of Springwatch 2009 will remember Martin Hughes-Games asking you to send in information on the strangest nest sites you've seen. He then followed this up with an appeal on the web that attracted about six trillion replies, including the photo that was included in last night's show of a bird nesting in a car wash.
Not that I'm jealous of Martin Hughes-Games or anything but I reckon I've taken a picture that is better than all of those. Here is a picture of a blue tit chick nesting in the hand of The Mole:
So there we are, gathered around the in-tent telly, watching Gordon Buchanan holding those adorable little badger cubs. Everyone in the room is cooing and purring happily when Neil, a BBC Radio roving reporter, suddenly pipes up:
"I've just had a thought. Why do badgers have stripes?"
It is the Wednesday presenters meeting and everybody is there. Series producers, episode producers, assistant producers, web producers, and the on-site presenters: Kate Humble, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games. The meeting kicks off with Chris getting a text from his mother telling him that he looks tired and asking him if there is any way he can get more sleep? We have only been on air two days. There are still two weeks to go...
I've just come out of the rehearsal and thought I'd do a quick summary. But everyone is definitely finding their feet as there is definitely less going wrong:
This year we had a fairly hard winter. Remember all the snow? Then spring seemed to happen all at once.
So what we'd like to know is have you noticed anything you think is unusual about this spring? Has the wildlife been behaving differently?
You can follow this mission on the show but we'd also like to build up a picture of polecat populations across the UK. The muntjac survey we did for Autumnwatch was so successful we'd like to do the same again for polecats. And this is where you come in...
The UK used to be covered in woodland but there's still plenty to enjoy on your holiday and for so many of our native species it's home sweet home.
Tracking animal footprints can turn a walk into an investigation and turn the kids into sleuths. Bark rubbings are great for bedroom art and tree identification back home, or print off Tree Bingo and see who finds everything first.
Here's a clip from Springwatch with lots more ideas:
When you go camping you're only the thickness of your tent away from the natural world. Could there be a better way of being at one with nature than holidaying in a tent?
Springwatch is made under the cover of canvas (and a few other materials) and judging by the walking boots, technical jackets and fleeces we've got more than our fair share of avid campers.
A tent also makes a cosy place to hover with your binoculars, dig out a book or just listen to the dawn chorus.
Lindsay looks like a perfectly ordinary 19-year-old but he patently isn't.
"I quite like the idea of being bitten by an adder," he tells me, "just to see how I'd react."
Summer is just around the corner and this year nearly 5 million of us will consider taking a holiday at home this year instead of abroad. This being Springwatch we think a holiday in the UK wouldn't be complete without taking in some wildlife along the way.
We've got a few ideas to get you started below, but here's some specific ways we can all get a bit of nature into our holidays:
And there's more to come over the coming weeks.
Beach holidays don't have to be donkeys and icecream. Are you heading to the seaside this year and looking for inspiration? One of Martin's favourites activities is Rockpool Bingo and you can see more in the clip from Springwatch below.
We've got some suggestions for easy ways to make your garden a haven for wildlife - and yourself.
But this is also your opporunity to add your tips. What works in your garden? What doesn't? We'd love to hear your experiences and dilemmas, so please share your questions and answers below.
Thanks so much for all the videos, stories and photos you've sent in to our quest to find Britain's strangest nesting site.
Update 4 June 2009
I think we've now found the strangest. Below is a collection of my favourite three. Watch with wonder...
Every morning Springwatch's core production team and the on-site presenters gather to discuss that evening's programme. What took me by surprise (but, in retrospect, shouldn't have) is how much the presenters contribute, constantly coming up with different ideas for content and possible improvements to the programme structure. But it can also get quite competitive...
When I heard that Mark the cameraman was going to try film some otters in the River Wensum, I thought it sounded like perfect material for The Mole. Shriek-enducingly cold water, ridiculously expensive hi-tech camera equipment, and notoriously elusive animals - what self-respecting blogger wouldn't want to be there? And lo and behold... "He screamed like a litte girl," said Mark's colleague, Jo.
Ah, the joys of nature. I've been sitting here working in a tent surrounded by technical equipment but delighting in the fact that I am also obviously surrounded by nature. Despite the clouds and the rain, and the whirr of overheating computers, birdsong is flooding in from the world of greenery outside. But then I guess that's the least one can expect on a nature reserve. Or is it...?
I just a saw man walking around with a five-foot pole which, in itself, wouldn't have been very remarkable except that someone said it was an electric cattle prod. And as this followed closely on from Kate Humble threatening to 'take a cattle prod' to Chris Packham if he didn't behave, I thought I better investigate.
Well, I've just been into the first rehearsal for Springwatch 2009 so, please, picture the scene as the director, series producer, producer, exec producer, and about ten other people, all sit glued to a bank of over forty high-tech plasma monitors. Nothing could look more cutting edge. Except that we're sitting in a very old and decrepit milking shed...
Okay, okay. Yes, I know it was only yesterday that I said: "one thing I won't be doing... is talking too much about the wildlife itself" but it's proving quite tricky. Perhaps it's got something to do with being on a nature reserve...
Welcome, welcome, welcome! Welcome to the new Springwatch blog - a veritable wellspring of Springwatch wondrousness!
But before I get too excited, allow me to introduce myself. I am The Mole and for the next three weeks or so I'll be blogging from Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk, going behind the scenes of Springwatch 2009. Yes, on your behalf, I'll be tunnelling under the wire, rooting around in the mud, and unearthing the tastiest little anecdotes, vignettes, and flashes of colour that your hearts might desire. The stories around the stories, if you like...
Simon - the king of field craft - and his hi-tech, "mission impossible" field team have the unique wildlife of the wilder corners of mid and north Wales in their sights this year.
With the holiday season about to start, and the credit crunch making more and more people consider a holiday in the UK, producer-turned-presenter Martin Hughes-Games and the Springwatch team provide an essential guide to holiday-making with a wild twist.
Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan, loved by our viewers for his Glasgow fox diary and his reports from the breeding seals on the Farne Islands, goes on the trail of the elusive badger.
The Springwatch phenomenon returns at 8pm Monday 25 May, BBC Two for another three-week celebration of UK wildlife and wildlife people - live and interactive from across the country. Join our new presenter team of Simon King, Kate Humble, Chris Packham, Gordon Buchanan and Martin Hughes-Games as they watch our daily animal family dramas unfold, as they happen.