Countryfile Magazine - - Mackenzie Crook -

My grand­par­ents lived in north Lon­don, close to Alexandra Palace and when I was younger I was amazed by how much more wildlife they seemed to get in their gar­den com­pared to mine. Where my home in Kent was sur­rounded by arable fields, my grand­par­ents were close to sev­eral lit­tle pock­ets of an­cient wood­land and heath and as such had tawny owls, wood­peck­ers and loads of ex­otic species that we never saw away from town. I re­mem­ber the ab­so­lute thrill of see­ing grey squir­rels rac­ing around the old oak tree in the gar­den.

(Sev­eral years ago I bought eight acres of old wood­land in Es­sex as a place to take my chil­dren and hope­fully in­spire them. Con­se­quently grey squir­rels and I have since fallen out. We are now en­e­mies. But don’t get me started.) One day my Nan told me a se­cret she’d kept for 20 years. In spring 1961, she read in the lo­cal pa­per that red­starts had been spot­ted nest­ing in Alexandra Park for the first time. She had never seen a redstart and lived close enough that she hoped she might fi­nally see one.

She got to see one the very next morn­ing when her cat, know­ing she was a keen bird­watcher, proudly dropped one at her feet.

The next week the pa­per re­ported that, sadly, the red­starts didn’t ap­pear to be nest­ing at the palace any more.

There is a lot of bird­song in De­tec­torists, most of it recorded on the day while we were film­ing. In some scenes I can hear three or four dif­fer­ent species – it’s in­cred­i­ble to think they were hid­ing close by.

Other bird­calls I added in the sound mix, just be­cause I could and be­cause I thought a hand­ful of peo­ple might enjoy iden­ti­fy­ing them.

So yes, lis­ten out in the sec­ond se­ries for, among oth­ers, a wheatear, tur­tle doves and, of course, a redstart.

ABOVE What hap­pened to Alexandra Park’s red­starts? BE­LOW Wheatears and tur­tle doves can be heard on the show’s sound­track

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