spring­watch

holiday Mon-thurs / BBC2

TV Times - - My TV Times Week - Sarah sel­wood

I’d never heard of pur­ple hairstreaks be­fore meet­ing Michaela Stra­chan and Chris Pack­ham at Sher­borne Es­tate, where the team will be film­ing this year.

NEW FAC­TUAL Spring­watch hol MON-THURS / BBC2 / 8.00PM

Hold onto your binoc­u­lars – it’s all change when Spring­watch re­turns to BBC2 this week for its 13th se­ries.

In­stead of be­ing based at a na­ture re­serve as usual, this time pre­sen­ters Chris Pack­ham, Michaela Stra­chan, Martin Hughes-games and Gil­lian Burke are head­ing to the Na­tional Trust’s Sher­borne

Park Es­tate in the heart of the Cotswolds.

The team will set­tle here for the rest of the year, mean­ing the an­i­mal

sto­ries they dis­cover in this three-week ex­trav­a­ganza can then be fol­lowed up in sis­ter shows Au­tum­n­watch and Win­ter­watch.

TV Times met the lovely Michaela, 51, and Chris (who kindly gave up time on his 56th birth­day for our in­ter­view and even shared his cel­e­bra­tory car­rot cake from the Spring­watch team with us) in cen­tral London, where we found out more…

What are the ben­e­fits of mov­ing to the Sher­borne Park Es­tate? Chris: We’ve got our­selves into the state of mind where, if we want to see wildlife, we go to a na­ture re­serve. That de­presses me be­cause we should have an ex­pec­ta­tion to see wildlife through­out the coun­try, whether it’s in the city or a ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment. So we’re now go­ing to ex­plore a far more abun­dant

en­vi­ron­ment. Places like RSPB Mins­mere [where Spring­watch had been based since 2014] are an ex­tra­or­di­nary tes­ta­ment to sculpt­ing land­scapes to pro­duce an abun­dance of wildlife, but they don’t rep­re­sent the big­ger pic­ture of what the UK coun­try­side is about. Michaela: You go there and think, ‘It’s not Mins­mere, it’s not man­aged, it’s not go­ing to be as ob­vi­ous where to go to get the good stuff ’. But our cam­era teams have come back re­ally ex­cited by this par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion.

Do you think the fact that view­ers will find the new lo­ca­tion more re­lat­able will re­new peo­ple’s in­ter­est in the great out­doors? Chris: I hope so. Un­for­tu­nately, many peo­ple who travel to work by road or rail look out and see a green and pleas­ant land, but a lot of it is badly dam­aged. So we hope view­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate the new lo­ca­tion, recog­nise the good bits and ask for more of them, and also be­come suf­fi­ciently dis­grun­tled by the bad bits that they af­fect pos­i­tive change.

Have you been work­ing on any­thing in ad­vance of the show? Chris: Dr Dawn Scott from the Uni­ver­sity of Brighton, who has worked with us over sev­eral se­ries, and I will be col­lar­ing and putting tags onto badgers and foxes as part of a study she is do­ing across the UK, look­ing at how th­ese an­i­mals use the land­scape in dif­fer­ent ways.

The col­lars will last at least un­til the end of Win­ter­watch, so we’ll get to know them as in­di­vid­u­als. I’m nam­ing them af­ter pop icons – one is called Madonna!

Sher­borne Park Es­tate has more than 4,000 acres of park­land, farm­land and wood­land, and vis­i­tors can spot king­fish­ers, ot­ters, deer, water voles, red kites, lizards and rare farm­land birds, in­clud­ing corn buntings and yel­lowham­mers. What’s on your wish list?

Michaela: Va­ri­ety is al­ways key. You want to have the birds we all

know. No doubt we will have a cam­era set up in­side a nest box of blue tits – we al­ways do!

Chris: The joy of the show is we are able to in­stall 30-40 cam­eras, run them 24 hours a day and have peo­ple watch­ing them in­tently, giv­ing us an in­sight we could never have our­selves be­cause you can’t sit that close to wildlife with­out dis­turb­ing it. If one or two things we wouldn’t nor­mally see crop up, I al­ways leave more than sat­is­fied.

Spring­watch is PRE­VIEWED on PAGES 48-49

Will the team spot any water voles?

Wing­ing it: A colour­ful king­fisher

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