Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and gillian Burke on visiting New england to witness one of the greatest autumnal spectacles on earth…
Mon-thu / BBC2
As a huge animal lover, I’m jealous of Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Gillian Burke as they head to New England, America, for four special shows this week. Chris joined us to reveal what’s on his to-see list…
NEW Nature Autumnwatch New England MONDAY-THURSDAY / BBC2 / 8PM
Leaves are crunching beneath our feet, the great debate about when to put the heating on has begun, and the crisp days are getting darker earlier. That can only mean one thing – Autumnwatch is about to burst back onto our screens!
This year’s series, however, will be a bit different because the BBC2 wildlife show is being broadcast from America. Presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Gillian Burke are heading to Squam Lake in New Hampshire, which is in the heart of New England, to set up camp and witness six and a half billion trees create a spectacle of colour that can be seen from space!
Meanwhile, hidden cameras will capture the local wildlife in action, including moose, black bears, flying squirrels, coyotes and raccoons.
TV Times caught up with Chris, 57, for an exclusive interview about what’s in store for viewers…
The last few Watches were filmed at Sherborne Park Estate in the Cotswolds. How does it feel to be heading Stateside?
It was great to be at Sherborne because we achieved our mission of wanting to follow one place through all four seasons. But, of course, it’s always exciting to go somewhere new, particularly overseas!
What are you most looking forward to in this series? Personally, it’s an opportunity to learn more about that part of the world and see how it contrasts with this part of the world. Some themes will be the same, like migration, but there’s a lot of difference in migration. We also have overlaps in the species – American mink, grey squirrels, starlings, house sparrows. Looking at the contrasts in their behaviours will be interesting. If a squirrel runs across my garden I don’t look twice! But out there, in its natural environment, it will be interesting to see what grey squirrels do.
Do you find bigger mammals, like bears and moose, exciting, too? Oh, yes. In the UK, we have this cosy existence where the largest thing we bump into at night is a fox or a badger! But they have bears, bobcats and moose. Moose are huge! I’m particularly interested in animals like raccoons and skunks because they’ve overcome adversity and are doing well. Skunks have a reputation, but they’re fascinating.
Where are you broadcasting the live shows from?
There are two hubs. Michaela and I are going to be at a picturesque log cabin on Squam Lake. Basically we’ll be where On Golden Pond was filmed, which doesn’t make me Henry Fonda! I hope
Michaela’s watched the film
so we can do lots of references. Gillian’s going to be at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. We’re following the same practice as all our Watches and will put out live cameras. We’ve already got some really good stuff.
You are joining Michaela on a road trip through the new Hampshire countryside to find the best autumn colours. Do you travel well together?
We’ve been travelling together for a long time and are quite good at it, I think. We enjoy each other’s company and sharing experiences, but are also both good at doing our own thing. To be able to see the spectacle of Fall first-hand is going to be pretty special.
Have you learned any interesting facts in preparing for the show?
I learned recently that moose, like otters, beavers and seals, have muscles in their nostrils. This means they can close them when they’re feeding on plants that are underwater. As well as having a nose that can close, they also have the capacity to bite underwater without drowning. I’d no idea! Year after year timber rattlesnakes go back to the same dens in the Autumn, emerging again in the Spring. They will go back to the same hole in the rock for 20 years!
Finally, on a different note, you have just been shortlisted for the Favourite Presenter gong in our annual TV Times awards [for more information, visit whatsontv.co.uk/tvtawards]… It’s very kind and not really deserved. I’ve never tried to perfect the art of presenting; perhaps
I should have done! I just try and espouse my passion for wildlife.
I’m very flattered.
NEW ENGLAND is PREVIEWED on PAGES 50-51
To see the spectacle of Fall first-hand is going to be pretty special…Chris Packham
Mammal mission: Will Gillian spot a raccoon at night? Stateside spectacle: the colours of New england in autumn Keeping watch: Michaela will be looking for moose On the wish list: Gillian hopes to see a rattlesnake an amazing life: a red eft newt