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Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 11:12 UK
Filming up-close with Springwatch
Phil Daley
By Phil Daley
BBC Norfolk

Nigel Bean
Nigel Bean looks after the miniature cameras at Springwatch

Former University of East Anglia (UEA) student Nigel Bean is responsible for getting you the very best images of nature in the wild.

Working for BBC Springwatch, Nigel looks after a host of miniature cameras, which bring unseen footage to our televisions.

"Norfolk is fantastic for wildlife, that is why I went to the UEA in the first place," said Nigel.

Springwatch '09 was based at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in north Norfolk.

For three weeks over May and June, Nigel and his team have been in nests, fields, hedges and trees capturing some of the best wildlife pictures seen on British television.

"Primarily, the job involves finding nests, installing the cameras and the operating them," said Nigel.

"I also have to look after the wildlife camera men. We have a dedicated crew, so I try and make sure they're not all standing in the same place filming the same thing," he added.

Different in the '80s

Although much of the Springwatch team have only been to Norfolk on business, Nigel has a history with the county.

"I attended the UEA from around 1988 and did a degree in Biological Sciences, as I was always interested in wildlife and natural history," he said.

While Nigel was at university he did visit Pensthorpe, but it was very different in the late 1980s.

"I did come and have a look around Pensthorpe all those years ago, but I can barely remember it," he said.

Springwatch mini-cam
More than 50 mini-cameras are used to film the animal stars

"I was helping a friend who was doing a PHD on Barn Owls and their prey. He had lots of traps to monitor vole population.

"It was so different then, I didn't even recognise it when I came back."

After leaving university and Norfolk, Nigel started his search for a job.

"I contacted a natural history department in Bristol and got a job as a researcher, as I already had a lot of experience looking at wildlife.

"I worked my way up the ranks and contributed to programmes such as Birding with Bill Oddie.

"I left after about nine years, but was brought back to work on Springwatch - mainly because of my bird knowledge."

Mini-cameras

Nigel is now in charge of setting up more than 15 mini-cameras, which takes more preparation than you might think.

"We were at Pensthorpe in the Autumn putting up specially adapted camera boxes to film the Barn Owls," he said.

"Now we are here on and off just to see what we can find," he added.

So what is so special about Norfolk's wildlife, and why did Springwatch come back for a second year?

"Norfolk is probably THE best place in the country for birds," said Nigel.

There have been a number of new cameras fitted for the 2009 series of Springwatch, others were left standing from 2008.

"We put kestrel boxes up for Springwatch 2008 and although a couple did show interest in one of the boxes, they were driven out by a pair of buzzards who just wouldn't tolerate another bird of prey," said Nigel.

"We were really keeping our fingers crossed for this year, so it was great to actually get them on film - they looked fantastic!" he added.

After the success of the kestrel boxes in 2009, if the Springwatch team decide to come back for a third year in 2010, what can we expect from Nigel and his team?

"We tried to get a glimpse of some kingfishers this year," said Nigel.

"We had cameras rigged up on an artificial bank, so if the kingfishers took up residence we would be ready to go.

"Sadly, I think we did the work a bit too late this year, but if we come back in 2010 I'm confident we will be successful.

"To get live pictures from inside a kingfisher nest would be amazing."




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