Spring­ing into a new sea­son

Our wildlife is wak­ing up – and the BBC Spring­watch team is ready for the drama.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Reviews Books - Sarah McPher­son

Spring­watch TV BBC Two Starts 28 May, 8pm, air­ing Mon­days to Thurs­days for three weeks

After what has felt like an in­ter­minably long win­ter, the sea­son of blos­som and buds has fi­nally ar­rived. And how bet­ter to cel­e­brate than with the sea­sonal wildlife ex­trav­a­ganza that is BBC Two’s Spring­watch? Beam­ing into our liv­ing rooms this May, the new series will be fronted by old hands Chris Pack­ham and Michaela Strachan, with rov­ing re­porter Gil­lian Burke bring­ing the lat­est from up and down the coun­try.

HQ will be once again be the Na­tional Trust’s Sher­borne Estate in Glouces­ter, mark­ing for the first time on the Watches a full year of broad­cast­ing from one lo­ca­tion. “We’ll be look­ing back at 12 months of the wildlife we’ve en­coun­tered and ev­ery­thing we’ve learned here,” says series pro­ducer Chris Howard. “Sher­borne is not a ded­i­cated na­ture re­serve, so it’s much more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Bri­tish coun­try­side – it’s ba­si­cally a slice of the Cotswolds. It re­minds us that we never have to go too far to en­counter wildlife.”

High­lights of the new series in­clude, in no par­tic­u­lar or­der, what a dif­fer­ence a decade and a no-take des­ig­na­tion have made to Lam­lash Bay on the Scot­tish Isle of Ar­ran (look out for our ar­ti­cle in the June is­sue); ot­ters in the Cam­bridgeshire Fens, where the team will as­sist ecol­o­gist (and wildlife hero) Cliff Car­son as he in­stalls the 80th ar­ti­fi­cial holt in this wa­tery land­scape; gar­den mini-dra­mas star­ring slugs that mi­grate up oak trees and par­a­sitic wasps that lay their eggs in­side other in­sects; curlews on the re­stored peat­bogs at RSPB Dove Stone; black wa­ter voles; a chat with artist Robert Gill­mor and walks in the rain with writer Melissa Har­ri­son. Not for­get­ting, of course, the close-up, real-time an­tics of a plethora of gar­den birds, cap­tured by a net­work of nest­cams rigged across the estate.

“Peo­ple love Spring­watch be­cause of that soap-opera el­e­ment,” says Chris. “We re­visit sim­i­lar species ev­ery year, but there are al­ways bril­liant new dra­mas to fol­low and in­ter­est­ing new char­ac­ters – it’s very Eastenders, where there’s a dif­fer­ent sto­ry­line go­ing on within each house. There is drama even in the fa­mil­iar­ity, in the ev­ery­day species such as blue and great tits, black­birds and buz­zards. There’s al­ways some­thing new and ex­cit­ing to share.”

GAR­DEN MINI-DRA­MAS FEA­TURE SLUGS MI­GRAT­ING UP OAK TREES AND PAR­A­SITIC WASPS.”

Ot­ter num­bers are grow­ing in Bri­tain, in­clud­ing in the Cam­bridgeshire Fens, thanks to the pro­vi­sion of ar­ti­fi­cial holts.

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