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.

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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