September’s uproar

Right then. So no-one’s allowed to speak out about the persecution of Hen Harriers any more, even though it’s a crime, or the negative impacts of driven grouse shooting, even though they scale out the positive ones, or how all science about the cull says it won’t work, even though there’s no science suggesting it will, or the horrific cruelty to species like the fox if the Hunting Act was to be repealed, even though they’d probably be killed in unimaginable ways, and so on.

Sounds morally wrong to me but these are the suggestions of those at the Countryside Alliance and some more, who are trying to silence us ‘tree-hugging townies’ that know nothing about the countryside. Don’t even mention that ‘prada wearing, muddled’ guy, Chris Packham! As Robin Page has put it, the ‘Packham Loop’.

As many will know, in the September issue of the BBC Wildlife Magazine, like most issues, Chris Packham published, once again, a very interesting and thought provoking article. However this one was like no other. I don’t think anyone was expecting to find that the result of it would be such a bash up from those on the opposite side of the table. After the Countryside Alliance got wind that was when it all set alight.

They were furious that not only was he speaking out against a lot of the things their organisation believes in but people were listening to him! How dare they?! By this I mean they were rather annoyed that he was allowed to speak about things when he has a job like he does. Where people do follow him, support him and listen unlike you Mr Bonner. What attention do you get apart from mainly bad? Then again I suppose any attention is good attention for him, this is illustrated nicely by a few of his tweets.

This afternoon I came across another article from someone who never seeks to surprise me, Robin Page. A ludicrous man and a perfect example that people ‘like him’ are on a completely different page to a lot of people, especially those who CARE and want the best for the countryside in the way that it can thrive. I’ve read a few articles about this issue like this but I’ve also read some very positive ones too, along with comments on various articles which say it all really. Those at the forefront may be a minority but we are growing and when we do get the message out there people will realise.

It has become quite a twisted issue though. From a regular column in the BBC Wildlife Magazine, which was primarily about the work of Britain’s conservation charities, it has turned into something where the CA are lobbying to get Chris the sack and basically find someone to pick on. We’ll never be silence though and this is obvious by the uproar that’s happened in support of Chris and the work that he does.

So, thank you for all of your targeting as, if anything, you brought an army closer together. With over 70,000 signatures in just a matter of days on a petition, what can I say. Except it’s a shame they haven’t all signed this one too! – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104441

As well as that, I think at this point it could be a good idea to write to the BBC Wildlife Magazine expressing your opinion and views on it all. I imagine they’ve probably been sent some negative comments and we need to make sure that the comments in support are overpowering those against. It wouldn’t surprise me if they do a page on the feedback or just for the normal comments page. Not only to make it clear that we support Chris but to make sure they know we aren’t going anywhere and what he says is agreed with by many. An email to do so with would be – wildlifeletters@immediate.co.uk

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!

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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.

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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.

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!

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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

My Autumnwatch Experience!

Yesterday I visited the RSPB reserve, Leighton Moss, for the first time. But this wasn’t to have a look around the wonderful site and look at the wildlife, it was to feature on BBC Autumnwatch Extra. Although I did have some time to look around I didn’t see very much as there were lots of people about but I will be going back to visit again in the near future!

We caught our first train to Leighton Moss at 7.35am and after a few hours of travelling and delayed trains we eventually arrived at 12. Straight away I had a chat with the producer and the presenter of the Autumnwatch Extra show, Brett Westwood. I also got to chat to Michaela Strachan and Nick Baker.

After lunch we went for a walk around the reserve then did some filming with one of the presenters, Lindsay Chapman, where I spoke more about the practical side of using trail cameras and compared my set ups to the ones at Leighton Moss. It was great fun and I really enjoyed myself!

Later on we went to Lilian’s hide ready for the Extra show. It was very exciting, especially when they were counting down to going live! When I was on I spoke about my passion for trail camming and how brilliant it is. I also spoke through some of my favorite clips explaining what was going on and how I managed to get the footage. Unfortunately I only had 2o minutes but I could of gone on for hours speaking about my trail camera set ups, what I’ve managed to film and the behavior.

Unfortunately we couldn’t stop for Unsprung but we were allowed to have a look around the studio and watch one of the rehearsals which I thoroughly enjoyed! It was brilliant and I really did have one of the best days ever due to it being a fantastic reserve and everyone being such friendly and enthusiastic people! I really did enjoy the experience and it was so inspiring too!

You can watch my part on Extra by following this link and skipping to the 1:58:00 mark – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p0299myp/autumnwatch-extra-2014-4-day-two-part-two

Here are some photos from the day.

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