Lock-down, for me, has taken away a lot of my freedom and, of course, has put a halt on all the travel plans I had for this year. I should be in Ecuador now, following up the work I started there at the beginning of the year. I saw 2020 in at Septimo Paraiso Lodge, in the Cloud Forest, after meeting owner ,Analu, at Bird Fair , Rutland. It was my first visit to this wonderful wildlife-rich location and you can imagine how I loved the lodge, with its totally incredible species! I set a series of trail cameras, installed a Birdsy camera on a feeding platform that I built with the staff and was able to learn about and see species I had never even heard about, let alone seen!
I should also be guiding in the lovely Shetlands Isles in just a month's time. I guide for one week, with Hugh Harrop and Shetland Wildlife. It is a week that I absolutely love as Shetland is the most wonderful and wild location and we see so much incredible wildlife. I will miss it greatly this year.
Finally, in July, I should have been heading out to the incredible wildlife reserve and farm of Ed Snodgrass in Maryland. Again I was due to be photographing and camera trapping the nature visiting this area, as well as creating another Birdsy cam set-up that I would be able to access and monitor from home.
For all of us, this pandemic has locked us down to our own homes and gardens, restricting our movements and making us appreciate the space that we did have available to us. For some this was restricted to opening a flat window and allowing the sunshine to stream and the birdsong to filter in. For others, a neglected garden suddenly became a special outdoor haven.
My garden has always been a very valued and important space to me, but this year it has flourished and is looking its best thanks to the extra hours I have been able to spend here. All my spare moments out of a usually very busy time of the year, is spent in my garden, but at this time of year it can run away with me! This lock-down has given me back precious time to really enjoy this space probably more than I have ever done!
I have actually sat and watched my garden. I have had breakfast outside, with my camera in one hand and binoculars in the other. I have observed robins bathing and blackbirds collecting nesting material. I have seen whitethroat , willow warbler, chiffchaff and bullfinch foraging in the foliage and taking advantage of all the planting and habitats I have created. For the first time ever, I have actually stopped long enough to really enjoy the space I have grown and nurtured.
It has also given me time to set up and experiment with more cameras! I always have tit boxes with cameras and I also look out for at least one blackbird nest to share. Every camera I live stream represents hours of footage to look through and to share and when I have another 10 or so cameras at Yew View, (the other site I manage for wildlife) this footage takes over much of my life. I become obsessed with watching ever moment, gleaning information from hours of behaviours and interactions recorded. I love sharing it with my followers and gain a lot of pleasure from enthusing and exciting others about the natural world. My live cameras are a superb way to engage with an audience.
I have worked with BBC Springwatch in the past with my camera set-ups. Michaela came and filmed here and we've also filmed at Yew View.
They have featured some of my camera set-ups in the past. When they approached me regarding sharing some of my live cameras on this year's Springwatch, of course I was delighted. These programmes are iconic. For anyone really keen on the natural world, the shows are a date in the diary and a programme to tune into and look forward to. I feel privileged that they deem my content good enough to be shared.
My first appearance this year, was actually with Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin's live show on Facebook, where they featured my blue tit family nearly every day for a week.
This has now morphed into the 3 a day live shows, now being shown on the BBC Springwatch. I featured on the first of Hannah Stitfall's shows. We did a live broadcast from my garden. This is now available on iPlayer HERE
Hannah's great little show goes out at 9am and 5 pm, with Chris and Megs doing the 12pm slot. These will continue, for the next three weeks with the main Springwatch programme going out Tuesday 8pm.
I have also been delighted to have three of my live cameras featuring on the BBC Website as part of their collection of live cameras from around the country and they were the first cameras to play when the service went live on Saturday morning.
My feeding platform, mammal box and waterhole cam have been appearing on their website and on iPlayer, where you can also watch them. You can see the wide selection of cameras on offer here.
I feel very proud to see my cameras streaming alongside some of their fabulous ones and under the iconic Springwatch banner!
Recently I have also been asked to take part in a couple of podcasts. One with Jack Perks, which is yet to go live, but there is a little video highlight, to give you a flavour!
I was also contacted by stand-up comedian Ryan Dalton who, being a wildlife enthusiast, has been conducting a series of rather lovely podcasts. Thank you Ryan for this podcast , which does really sum up what I am all about. I hope you enjoy.
Finally... keep an eye out for the June edition of BBC Wildlife Magazine! I may have sneaked into the back page of that too! It's been a busy month!