BBC Springwatch 2022 – The Restorative Power of Nature
Once again, in May and June we were joined by the BBC Springwatch team for 12 hours of wonderful wildlife TV broadcasting as well as 120 hours of live online cameras. Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham presented live from Wild Ken Hill and we had the added bonus of Hannah Stitfall presenting a live online programme every lunchtime.
The theme this year was the restorative power of nature, and Michaela said “during lockdown many people connected with the natural world around them. There’s so much going on in the world right now that’s so stressful, so confusing. We need to go somewhere to find peace and solace.” Chris added “another really important theme for the series is to allow nature to restore the land as well as ourselves. I get a big hit when I come to Wild Ken Hill as you can see farming working alongside nature and both doing really well, which is great.”
The production team were, by now, very familiar with Wild Ken Hill having also been here for Autumnwatch and Winterwatch and they were able to utilise their experiences of the landscape here to be able to showcase lots of incredible wildlife behaviours. The team of researchers are a very passionate group of young naturalists, and it was a joy to spend time with them once again.
This year’s series was later in the season than usual due to the BBC broadcasting a rescheduled Chelsea Flower Show in late May. This change in timings allowed us to see a lot more fledging on the nest cameras and we were able to witness the survival stories of many birds once they had left their nests, as well as learning about the individual and different characters of siblings as they grew. To see the wildly different temperaments of those charismatic Grey Herons was joyous, if at times a little gruesome!
The real thrill of Springwatch is being able to peer, unobtrusively, into the intimate lives of many of the creatures which call Wild Ken Hill home, in a way that none of us would be able to do in our daily lives. To see a late-night predation of a Skylark nest by a Hedgehog was something completely unexpected and is believed to have not been filmed in England before. Following a dry Spring, this was nature in action as the Hedgehog stumbled across a much-needed meal. The Skylark adults escaped and will be able to produce another two clutches of eggs this year. We also saw nesting Oystercatcher and Lapwing on farmed fields here at Wild Ken Hill as well as mating Stone Curlew, footage which really highlighted the ability to farm and produce food whilst still giving space for nature.
Nest cameras included a range of birds of prey: Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl, Buzzard, as well as warblers such as Blackcap, Whitethroat and Reed Warbler. Farmland specialists including Linnet, Skylark and Woodlark nests were filmed too along with Shelduck, Heron, Spoonbill and Avocet on the freshwater marsh. We also saw amazing mammal behaviour from Stoat, Hedgehog, many deer species, and we learned fascinating science about flowers, insects and much more.
The digital team at the BBC worked very hard this year to try and engage a younger audience and encourage interaction and appreciation of nature. We were visited by reality TV star Gemma Collins (The Only Way Is Essex) who discussed in depth her passion for nature, including her own wildflower meadow and home-grown fruit and vegetables. With a reach on social media of 5 million people, most of them under 30, it is important that people such as Gemma bang the drum for nature in the hope that they can inspire the conservationists of tomorrow.
The whole Springwatch experience has allowed us here at Wild Ken Hill to showcase the work we do to a large and varied audience, and we hope that people become engaged in their own areas and gardens and do their bit for wildlife. Estate Manager Nick Padwick was also featured in an Open University video about Regenerative Farming here at Wild Ken Hill which is on the BBC Springwatch website
The BBC will be back for Autumnwatch but if you can’t wait that long, you can always book one of our Guided Tours this summer!