A trip to Springwatch at Minsmere

On Wednesday morning I was up very early as I had a five hour car journey ahead. I was off to RSPB Minsmere reserve which is along the Suffolk coast. But this wasn’t mainly for a trip to visit and explore the fantastic reserve, I was also going to the Springwatch HQ to feature on the 4.30 Extra show with Lindsay Chapman.

This was very exciting for me as I’d never been to Minsmere before but I’d heard about how much of a great reserve it is from Springwatch and online. I was also very excited as when I visited Leighton Moss back in Autumn for Autumnwatch I had a brilliant day and I was certain today wasn’t going to be anything less!

After leaving the house at 6.30 we eventually arrived at about 12.30, on the way we didn’t see much apart from a red kite along the A14 somewhere. When I got there I headed straight out to do some filming. I wasn’t too fussed though as we went out onto the reserve and explored a woodland area for any signs of varies species and to see where a good spot would be to put my trail camera up. Even though I didn’t actually leave a camera there it was still very exciting as there were plenty of signs about and the woodland was thriving with different species. As we were walking through we spotted a woodpecker nest and a male blackcap which was making a delightful racket. Once I’d met back with my family again we went off to observe the reserve even more.

Our first stop was Bittern Hide. As soon as we got there and looked out over the reed beds I saw a marsh harrier flying and hovering about and two hobbies which put on a fantastic display for us. As we only had a couple of hours we carried on our way and bumped into a friend of mine, Jason Alexander (Wildlife Gadget Man) who was with another man from the Suffolk Amphibian and Reptile Group. They were walking around with a special piece of kit which they were using to track down the adders they’d radio tagged. For a while we joined them to see how it works and what they were actually doing. It was very interesting to see how it works and how they use the data to discover new things about the adders on the Minsmere reserve. I even got to have a go myself and a bit later on we went along with them to watch an adder they’d caught be radio tagged which was later released on the programme. It was really fascinating to see how it works and how they put the tags on – real life science!

snake tracking

When heading back to the Springwatch HQ before I featured on Extra we also heard a bittern booming. In the past I’ve seen a bittern but I’ve never actually heard one booming. It was a really fascinating sound and quite odd. We weren’t too far from the bird and it actually felt like my body was shaking because of how low pitch it was.

Once back at the HQ I waited patiently for my cue to go onto the show. When I was on I spoke about a variety of things. This included trail cameras and a bit of science behind the species I film, urban wildlife including the pied wagtails in my local city centre, the BBC Wildlife Magazines Top 50 Conservation Heroes list, and some things about young peoples attitudes to nature and what studies show about how many children are engaged with it. I have attached the clip for Extra below. I had a really great chat with Lindsay, she was very welcoming and friendly along with everyone else on the Springwatch Crew and who work at the Minsmere reserve. I managed to have a good chat with a few familiar faces and met some new people too.


Once my time on Extra was over I managed to spend some more time on the reserve, have a chat with a few more people and get ready to appear in the Unsprung audience. When I got back last night I read some comments on social media about Unsprung as it has caused a bit of a stir. However I thought it was great, very funny! It isn’t as serious as the main show and they still spoke about some interesting topics. It was also fantastic to see Vic Reeves as one of the guests. They spoke about his hidden passion for wildlife which was something different for the show. I was a massive fan of his latest series that he featured in, House of Fools and think that he’s really funny so I enjoyed the show a lot! In fact I don’t think I could of chosen a better Unsprung to have been in the audience of!

Overall it was a very action packed day and I really enjoyed myself. I had a lovely walk around the reserve and it was also very exciting to spend time within the Springwatch HQ and studios. On the way back home, yesterday morning, we popped into see Jason Alexander (Wildlife Gadget Man) who if you didn’t see on The Great British Garden Watch has a superb garden with cameras set up at every corner filming a variety of species from blackcaps to hedgehogs. You can see more of what he does here.

Here is a link to Springwatch Extra which I appear on, if you skip to the 40 minute mark you can watch me there – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05xwdnq/springwatch-extra-2015-9-afternoon-27052015

You can also watch Unsprung by clicking here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05x6gm8/springwatch-unsprung-2015-episode-3

I’d also like to share some exciting news which is that myself and another young naturalist, Josie Hewitt, will be taking part in one of the Special Evening Events at the Rutland Birdfair this year, on Friday 21st August. We’ll be guiding three well-known conservationists, Chris Packham, Nick Baker and Simon King, through a series of questions in front of an audience of about 500+ people. The reason why I’m sharing this now is because tickets have just become available. You can buy them and find out more about the event by clicking here.


Urging your MP to stop the slaughter of wildlife

Now the general election is all over and done with and local MPs are settling in, either new ones or re-elected ones, it’s very important that we let them know how we feel about policies and issues. With the Tories running the country on their own now it’s even more worrying for our wildlife. Two main issues include the on going badger cull, which will resume in the summer, and their promise to give MPs a free vote on whether the Hunting Act should be repealed. It is rumoured that this vote could happen in a number of weeks. Obviously there are other issues facing our wildlife which we need to contact our local MPs about but these two are amongst the most worrying at this exact moment in time.

Just before the general election I did a blog post as part of A Focus on Nature’s Vision for Nature blog series. My blog was all about inspiring the next generation (click here to read it) and I emailed it round to all of my local party candidates. I was pretty pleased with the response. The response I got back from my Tory candidate was that if he got re-elected, which he was, that I should get back in touch and we could meet to discus the issues further. At that point I knew it was very obvious that he would be re-elected so when I replied I said that if we do meet I would like to discuss other issues which face our wildlife too. This should be very interesting as after doing a bit of research I discovered that he was FOR the badger cull and FOR the repeal of the Hunting Act. When the Conservatives got in I was quite reluctant to meet him as I didn’t really like the idea of meeting a Tory MP so I got in touch with the League Against Cruel Sports and they reassured me that the best way to get my opinion and concerns across was to meet with him. Due to this I got back in touch this week about it. When I do meet with him I’ll be doing plenty of blogging about how it goes.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve been in touch with my MP, I’ve been in touch with him and many others lots of times. I’m regularly sending emails or letters to MPs. It is really easy to do so and only ever takes a few minutes to write and send it, either by post or email. Obviously one letter or email isn’t going to make the world of difference but if we all bombard our local MPs with our views and concerns on issues like the badger cull and the Hunting Act then it WILL make a difference. After speaking to people in the past they’ve said that they don’t contact their local MP for many reasons like they don’t know what to say, it’s a waste of time, they simply can’t be bothered and many other reasons. At this time when a vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act could be weeks away and the badger cull is certain to go ahead later on in the year it’s vital that we get in touch with our local MPs to get the message across and make them listen. For those who aren’t sure what to say, think it’s a waste of time, simply don’t have time or for whatever other reason I have put together a template below for you to copy and forward to your local MP. It will take a matter of minutes to do and it could make a difference so what’s to loose?! I’ve put this together for the benefit of helping to get a message across to help our wildlife so feel free to copy it or edit it to suit you but please make an effort and help make a difference, it is worth it.

Dear ——

As the MP for my constituency I am writing to you today expressing my concerns on some important issues. The natural world is important to every single one of us here in the UK and all around the world. Not only is it the fact that without it we wouldn’t be here but many of us enjoy every moment we spend when it surrounds us and find the disgusting acts of cruelty and disrespect against it very upsetting. There are many wrong doings against wildlife but today I will be writing about two main ones which I would like you to consider and speak out about as big decisions are being made about them which is very worrying. One is the repeal of the Hunting Act and the other is the badger cull which is planned to be rolled out again this year and possibly in more areas of the South West.

Men wearing red jackets, on the back of a horse, riding through the countryside blowing horns in big groups with a massive pack of dogs in the hope of ripping an innocent mammal such as a fox or hare in the most disgraceful way possible can not be classed as a ‘sport’ or ‘fun’, so definitely not legal. These are innocent creatures which deserve a place in our countryside more then anything else. They were here a lot longer before us and part of the natural world and ecosystems which help us survive. How can anyone think it is acceptable to destroy these mammals in a horrific way. We should be embracing these species for their beauty not discriminating them in the worst way possible.

There are many arguments that the Act has ‘done nothing for animal welfare’ and that it is a ‘humane method to control fox numbers’ but this is far from the truth. It’s just an excuse that the hunters can give when all they want to do is shred an innocent mammal to pieces. It’s not just myself who has this opinion, 80% of the British Public are in favour of the Hunting Act along with 86% who are against deer hunting and  88% are against hare hunting and coursing. How much more obvious could it be that the British public want this ban to be kept. Therefore if a free vote for MPs on repealing the Hunting Act does go ahead, as promised by the Prime Minister and could take place in the next few weeks, I urge you to vote to keep the Hunting Act.

As mentioned another issue which I am writing to you about today is the badger cull. Yet another summer and more innocent badgers are being killed in the unsuccessful attempt to eradicate Bovine TB. However it is most likely that this year and over the next few years that the cull will expand more and more in the South West. As the cull is going to be rolled out in a matter of months I am writing to you with my concerns about it.

It’s obvious that Bovine TB in cattle is a problem and it needs to be sorted. However culling badgers isn’t the answer, it doesn’t take a genius to work that out. Badgers are being blamed and hold responsible far too much. There are many scientific studies that tell us the cull won’t work. One study example is the Randomised Badger Cull Trial undertaken by the last government between 1997 and 2007. The results of this study concluded that “Given its high costs and low benefits, badger culling is unlikely to contribute usefully to the control of cattle TB in Britain and we recommend that TB control efforts focus on measures other than badger culling.”

Along with this a poll has revealed that the cull is the fifth most common complaint to MPs. So if scientific studies and the public don’t want it then why is it still planned to go ahead? There are better alternatives to the cull so why aren’t they being used. As well as this the cull has caused many badgers to be killed in horrific ways. This includes them taking up to ten minutes to die when they are shot free running and also wildlife criminals given the ‘green light’ for badger persecution. There’s no doubt that since the cull has began badger persecution has risen and this is due to the cull. Badgers are killed in some of the most disgusting ways you could possibly imagine. They are one of the most protected species in the UK yet they are the most persecuted.

I hope you can take into consideration what I have said and my concerns on some animal welfare issues. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely,


To make it even easier for you here’s where you can find who your local MP is – http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Urban Peregrine Excitement!

Over the past few weeks and months I have been observing and watching a peregrine falcon in my city centre. The bird has made its home at the Cathedral in my city centre which overlooks the city. Every evening when I have some time spare or whenever I’m making a trip down into town I’ll take my binoculars with me and take a look to see if I can spot it.

The peregrine here isn’t publicised very much but all the local people and the people that work in the area know about it. In past years they haven’t been very successful when breeding. Last year the birds were reported to have had one chick but unfortunately they found a dead bird around the grounds a few weeks after. Up until last week I only ever spotted one bird but when I visited last Sunday it was an absolute delight to see two birds!

I managed to have a chat with one of the people who work on the grounds of the cathedral and they said they found an egg shell just a few days ago which is very exciting! Unfortunately there isn’t a platform up but that hasn’t stopped them.

On Sunday, whilst walking round the cathedral, I couldn’t see it in the places where I normally see it but then I heard an awful screeching noise. As I searched the cathedral with my binoculars I found two birds. One was sitting on a ledge above the other one. This was fantastic to see and a real pleasure. As everyone down in the town got on with their shopping these two birds were presenting a different kind of drama.

I look forward to observing these birds and seeing how they get on in the next few weeks. Here’s a clip that I got.


Wacky Wednesday!

A few days back the BBC wildlife magazine announced their wildlife power list which consists of Britain’s top 50 conservationist. If you subscribe to the magazine you would of got your copy a few days ago but for those who don’t subscribe you can buy your own copy from the shops tomorrow.

I feel very pleased and honoured to appear on the list, number 48, as there are some well deserving individuals which I admire considerably on there. Whilst reading through I straight away thought some were a great choice, some could have been listed higher up and I could think of probably another 50 people to feature on the list too! Obviously it’s not just myself who has an opinion on the list, on social media pages its been causing quite a stir and has been very controversial. I know from what they have tweeted, the BBC Wildlife Magazine have received a lot of comments about it too.

Personally I think it’s a very good idea but nothing that serious. A bit of fun! The list is based around people who they think will make a considerable difference for wildlife over the next decade. I think a list of people who are going to make a bad impact on wildlife over the next decade would be a good idea too, wouldn’t be too hard to put together either!

Everyone on the list is very worthy to be there in my opinion. Every one has made a great impact to the environment in different ways and will undoubtedly go on and do so in years to come. It was great to see some fellow young people listed too, these were Findlay Wilde and Jack McGowen-Lowe. It was also a good idea to have a mixture of people on there, from broadcasters and scientists to MPs and artists.

As I mentioned before though I can think of quite a few which should definitely be on the list but they’re not. Some include individuals which may keep themselves quiet but they are most definitely deserving wildlife heroes. As I said it was great to see two fellow young people on the list but I could think of quite a few others which are also true wildlife heroes.

One thing that did disappoint me was the amount of women on their compared to men. There was 14 girls on the list compared to 36 male which is quite a big difference!

Never the less I think the list will really inspire those who read it!

bbc wildlife mag


I would also like to say that on this Wednesday evening, 13th, I will be appearing on a documentary called the Great British Garden Watch. It will be on at 9pm on BBC 2 and should be a great hour! It will also be including a few other wildlife nuts like Findlay Wilde, and his younger brother Harley, and the wildlife gadget man, Jason Alexander.

You can read more about it here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05vmxn2