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Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Tuesday, 19 October 2010 13:44 UK
Chris Packham meets wildlife film-maker David Cobham
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Chris Packham takes a tour of Sculthorpe Fen with David Cobham

Autumnwatch presenter Chris Packham has returned to Norfolk to meet his favourite wildlife film-maker.

David Cobham was the brains behind many television nature films dating back to the 1970s and was a pioneering producer for wildlife host David Attenborough.

He now runs Sculthorpe Fen, near Fakenham, which is home to the Hawk and Owl Trust.

"David's work has influenced me, both as a film-maker and now as a passionate educator," said Chris.

"It is a great honour to know a man so committed to conservation. Watching wildlife TV has inspired people to look after all this stuff," he added.

David was arguably the first person to make a film about conservation called Vanishing Hedgerows, which challenged the destruction of the countryside being caused by modern farming techniques.

For his documentary The Secret Life of the Barn Owl he pioneered filming methods that we now take for granted to show birds at night.

"I knew about this lovely guy Dr Roger Payne who had done a lot of work on how barn owls could catch prey in absolute darkness and so that was a big challenge," said David.

"I had seen the Army using hand-held night vision devices, so I got the BBC to get hold of one of those," he added.

Closer look

Chris was just a boy when The Secret Life of the Barn Owl was shown on TV, but he remembers it fondly, along with some of David's other work that gave the viewer a closer look into the undergrowth.

"I wrote to David Cobham wanting to help [the owls]. My biology teacher and I reared some of them from the film and then released them into the wild," said Chris.

"And who could forget Tarka the Otter - a classic film about the life of an otter, hunted to death by hounds. Again Cobham was the man who brought it to the screen," he added.

David Cobham is proud of the achievements at Sculthorpe Fen, where habitat for birds such as the marsh harrier is carefully looked after.

He believes the future of nature conservation lies in education.

"We need to educate everyone, not just farmers, that biodiversity is absolutely crucial to the countryside," said David.

Chris Packham and David Cobham appeared on BBC Inside Out for the East on Monday, 18 October 2010.

Autumnwatch, featuring Chris Packham and Kate Humble, is shown on BBC Two every Thursday at 8.30pm until 25 November 2010.




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