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Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 11:16 UK
Springwatch reveals new season
Martin Barber (Photo: Richard Pickavance)
By Martin Barber
BBC Norfolk

Springwatch returns to Pensthorpe Nature Reserve for another series

The TV wildlife show Springwatch has revealed plans for the new series during a launch event from its base at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk.

New presenter Chris Packham joined Kate Humble and other members of the team at the reserve on Thursday, 23 April.

"There's a growing interest in wildlife and we're in a unique position to help people to get closer to nature," said Debs Jordan, co-owner at Pensthorpe.

Springwatch 2009 is broadcast on BBC2 for three weeks from Monday, 25 May.

"This lovely weather helps us feel particularly buoyant at the moment having emerged from a long dreary winter, during which time a great deal was achieved on the reserve," said Debs.

"This time last year Springwatch was a complete unknown to us. Now we have the advantage of understanding much better the relationship between Pensthorpe and Springwatch and how together we can tell so many fabulous stories," she added.

Chris Packham joins the Springwatch line-up, alongside Kate Humble and Simon King, following Bill Oddie's decision to take a break from the programme earlier this year.

Chris, a zoology graduate and active conservationist, began his career at the BBC in 1985 as a presenter of The Really Wild Show and has most recently been seen in the series Nature's Calendar.

In addition, former Springwatch producer Martin Hughes-Games joins the presenting team and Gordon Buchanan will continue to send in his popular daily reports, this time from a secret badger watching location in the Eastern region.

Animal stars

The Pensthorpe Reserve is home to more than 100 species of birds and other native wildlife, but who will become the animal stars to millions of TV viewers?

The programme's chief script-writer, Mother Nature, provided drama last year when an infanticidal male swallow shocked the nation as he systematically threw swallow chicks out of their nest so he could father his own brood.

Toilet Duck and family in the Pensthorpe shop
Toilet Duck and her family became stars of Springwatch 2008

A family of blackbirds have currently moved into the nest as the swallows take their annual winter break in Africa, but what will happen if the swallow's return?

There were the great parents - the oystercatchers, chaffinches and goldcrests, who lovingly tended to their chicks despite the miserable, wet weather.

And Toilet Duck, who became a firm favourite with viewers and visitors to the reserve, is still talked about nearly a year later.

This year the Springwatch camera team have been hard at work to entice even more wildlife to screens - they can only hope that nature's script-writing team have been watching what's been going on!

Will the kingfishers and otters move into their brand new, purpose-built, apartments on the River Wensum that runs through the centre of the reserve?

"As Springwatch departed from Pensthorpe in 2008, we were aware that kingfishers were nesting down at the Wader Scrape, they actually had two clutches which successfully fledged," said Debs Jordan.

"It was always one of our goals to increase the habitat and nesting places of this very popular iconic British species and it would be lovely to think that we might get some footage which would give the viewers an opportunity to gain an insight into the behaviour of this exquisite little bird," she added.

Will Norfolk's kingfishers become the Springwatch stars of 2009?

Springwatch will also be following the creation of the reserve's new wildlife garden, while Kate digs a new pond at her home, with lots of down-to-earth, realistic and practical advice about how best to bring a bit of Springwatch into your own back garden.

"Building habitats for all native wildlife is very high on the agenda at Pensthorpe and therefore we are particularly proud of the new Wildlife Habitat Garden," said Debs.

"We hope it will give some ideas to viewers on what they can do at home, for very little cost and not a great deal of effort, to attract wildlife into their own outdoor space - be that a window box or a garden."

Animal dramas

The new series marks the second year the programme will be based in Norfolk, following the prime time show's move to the county in 2008 from the Fishleigh Estate in Devon.

The programme plans to use more than 50 cameras around the nearly 600 acre Norfolk site, linked by more than 12 kilometres of fibre-optic cable.

Using this camera network, the production team will record more than 500 hours of footage during their three week stay in Norfolk, allowing viewers to follow a range of intimate animal stories - live - without disturbing the animals themselves.

In addition to the main programme, they'll also be continuous webcam-streams, films and blogs to the Springwatch website and new for 2009 - live webcasts from the Springwatch production village, to keep fans updated on all the wildlife action between the BBC2 TV shows.

Presenter Gordon Buchanan will be working at a secret location in Essex for Springwatch

Across the UK

Although the programme is based in Norfolk, Springwatch will be true to form, reporting on nature stories from across the UK.

Simon King will be Wales going in search of close encounters with polecats, the magnificent goshawk and the Leatherback Turtle.

Gordon Buchanan is on a badger stakeout with the help of an Essex octogenarian and there's ideas for taking a holiday on the wild-side.

With the holiday season about to start and the recession making more and more people consider a holiday in the UK, producer-turned-presenter Martin Hughes-Games and the Springwatch team provide an essential guide to holiday-making with a wild twist, by shedding a new light on the nation's favourite destinations.

As per last year, BBC Norfolk will be bringing you lots of behind-the-scenes news from the Springwatch camp - bookmark this page for more details as they are revealed.

Springwatch, from Monday, 25 May, 2009, at 8pm on BBC2.


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