On 23 April 2006, Chris Packham joined our field trip to Woolston Eyes Bird Reserve , to record an item for his forthcoming television series, 'Nature's Calendar'.
New: Were you there? Can you see yourself?
Before our planned field trip to Woolston Eyes, we were contacted by Stuart Woodman, a BBC Television producer. He wished to involve us in the production of a programme in the series 'Nature's Calendar ', due to be transmitted in March 2007. Along with Chris Packham (currently presenter of 'Hands on Nature') and two cameramen he accompanied 46 members on the coach journey and during our visit to Woolston Eyes. Interviews and filming took place on the coach; from a motorway overbridge; and as we went around the reserve — adding a different sort of experience to the usual field meeting agenda! Chris and Stuart are pictured, above, with Woolston Eyes recorder Brian Martin between them.
At the reserve Chris, Stuart and a cameraman accompanied part of the group (Ken Clifford, Jim and Lilian Winsper, John and Liz Palmer and granddaughter Sophie, Phil McBride, and me) as we were guided by wardens to hides to view the breeding Black-necked Grebes for which the reserve is renowned and which had been filmed there by the BBC crew a day or two earlier. Filmed dialogue took place while we watched the birds and amusingly at one point while we watched lifeless reeds — to obtain 'full frontal' shots, supposedly from the water's edge, of us birdwatching over the water. We were also asked to walk repeatedly over some pathways to obtain good 'footage' of the group en route to view birds.
With the weather surprisingly sunny and good after prolonged damp cool conditions, everyone enjoyed good birds. Along with the Black-necked Grebes we were pleased with Little Gulls, Common Sandpiper, Whitethroat and other newly arrived warblers. Finally, at the coach we were shown a Grasshopper Warbler (pictured) in the hand after being mist-netted and ringed.
Pictures: Filming the coach from an overbridge somewhere on the M6; Chris Packham with our (then) chairman Jim Winsper and Birmingham Branch chairman Martin Kenrick; Chris (second from right) and the party are filmed on arrival at Woolston Eyes.
Sophie (our youngest member on the trip, pictured being interviewed by Chris) said it was an exciting experience and interesting to see how a program was made, she thought all the BBC people were really nice. She was surprised how they got the shots of us supposedly watching an interesting bird by focusing on landmarks and then added the commentary. She thoroughly enjoyed it and in her words hada wonderful day.
John and I were both fascinated in the way it was put together. The other thing that amazed me was Chris Packham's ability to just talk about the place or birds, and recognise virtually the syllable that was wrong and start again from that point!
It is amazing how much work goes into the making of a ten-minute programme segment. I must admit to watching the last of the current series of 'Hands on Nature' from a different point of view and realising how much time and effort had gone into it!
Pictures © Andy Mabbett, except that of Sophie, © Ray Davis.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
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