It's day three of Springwatch and there's plenty going on. The Springwatch team have been busy around the reserve, putting up loads of new nestcams. Hopefully we'll get introduced to some new faces tonight as well as catching up with some of the familiar ones. I even spotted a camera bobbing around on the end of a stick over Dick's garden fence whilst we were showing a school group round. Will tonight's show reveal what they were filming? I hope so!
Last night's show was another corker. My favourite bit had to be the macro photography. I'm used to seeing the after effects of snail snacktime, but I've never actually seen it happen close up. I'll definitely be taking Chris's advice and trying to get the live show by putting sugar solution on a window for a snail to snack on. Not sure I fancy the clean up operation afterwards though!
If you've been enjoying the stunning scenery and wildlife on the live shows then why not come across to Ynys-hir and see it for yourself. You can't quite understand how beautiful a place it is without seeing it with your own eyes. We're still open during Springwatch, from 9 am to 7 pm everyday. There's the chance to see where the magic happens on our daily Springwatch guided walks (11 am and 2 pm) and you can catch up with all the action from the nuthatches, chaffinches, barn owls and blue tits (as well as others) with the live nestcam link up in the Visitor Centre. (Be warned - it's seriously addictive watching!)
Don't forget to tune in again tonight from 8pm on BBC 2.
The second day of BBC Springwatch is here and, after watching last night's programme, I can't wait until 8pm tonight! It was a fascinating and informative programme throughout, but I particularly enjoyed the underground filming of the moles - a species I rarely see though evidence of them here on the reserve is fairly obvious by the numerous mole-hills. With 38 mini-cams now on the reserve there'll hopefully be a few surprises in store, though there's already some fab wildlife starring on the web cams - the first Springwatch nuthatches with the tiny runt, our barn owls with four young, late-nesting blue tits and a sneak preview of the grass snakes in our Area Managers garden.
Nuthatch, Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)
The sun has encouraged a good emergence of dragonflies and damselflies over the last few days with eight species now flying around the reserve, including hairy dragonfly (a relatively scarce species here in the west), both four-spotted and broad-bodied chasers, and the rather smart common hawker. The ditch between the Marian Mawr and Saltings hides is a great spot to see dragonflies. There's lots more to see this year thanks to the work we've been doing in the area, putting in more pools and ditches which are perfect for them. These flying jewels are definitely worthy of Springwatch stardom so we'll have to see if they appear on the show.
Hairy dragonfly, Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Broad-bodied chaser, Andy Hay (rspb.images.com)
A chance encounter with a brown hare lolloping down a track yesterday made my day, but it was topped by a couple in the Ynys Eidiol hide who had great views of an otter with two cubs slowly swimming across the pool. It's these sightings, the un-expected, a privileged sharing, that BBC Springwatch does so well; allowing all of us to enjoy the magic that is our natural heritage.
With only a few days left before the live shows start, the production village is now complete and the producers and presenters arrived yesterday. Last night, a 'welcome to the community' event was hosted in the mess tent at the production village with good numbers of the local community turning out to meet the production crew and presenters. It was great to meet the presenters who answered queries and mingled with the crowd.
Today is a full reheasal day for next Monday's programme and we've got our fingers crossed it all goes ok and there are no technical hitches. Roving cameramen have been on site all week and have got lots of good shots of the wildlife on the reserve (including some birds that are new to Springwatch which we're really excited about!), but you'll have to tune into the show to find out exactly what they've caught on camera.
And it's not just the Springwatch team that have had a busy few days. The reserve staff have been putting up signs, repairing paths and steps, and generally tidying up the place so that the reserve looks its best for the influx of visitors we're hoping for.
The countdown to the first live broadast approaches and we're all waiting for the first programme with excitement, but a few nerves too. If you can't wait until 8pm on Monday for your first Springwatch fix then check out the video below!
How time flies! In less than a fortnight the BBC Springwatch series will again be broadcast from Ynys-hir. So how have we been preparing?
In a local farmers field the production village is slowly forming, with caravans, trucks and cars parked on the special matting laid down. In less than a week the production vans, portable offices and catering tents will be erected, transforming the field into a hive of activity. The number of BBC staff present increases daily and camera teams are out checking the special nestboxes put up in late winter.
Excitement is also buiding amongst our staff and volunteers too, as the time for the first broadcast approaches.
On the reserve we have been busy; laying more stone on the overflow car-park, preparing the rota for staff and volunteers and 'sprucing up' the reserve's facilities – ready for the anticipated increase in visitors.
Over Easter, the Cambridge Conservation Volunteers laid stone on a rather wet section of footpath leading from the overflow car-park to the Visitor Centre.
This group of volunteers have been coming to the reserve every Easter for the last ten years helping out on a number of conservation tasks. Many thanks to them for their help and congratulations in their 50th anniversary year.
Despite the rather wet and cold weather the birds too have been busy. Blue tits and great tits are well into their nesting season with pied flycatchers and redstarts buiding nests in some of our many nestboxes. The woods are full of the sound of spring with all our summer migrants back, joining our resident species in a fantastic dawn chorus. Lapwing chicks can be seen on the lowland wet grassland and in the reedbed reed and sedge warblers are buiding nests.
As BBC Springwatch draws nearer I wonder which of our many birds will feature on the programme; will the pied flycatchers have a better breeding season than last year, will the barn owls breed and will the buzzards again feed their chicks on so many of our grass snakes.
Tune in on May 28 to find out what happens. We hope you're as excited as we are!
The weather since I last posted a blog has deteriorated somewhat; from balmy March days to rather changeable conditions, though there is now a hint of warmth in the sun. Migrants have appeared in some numbers with willow warblers singing from every patch of suitable ground. Pied flycatchers are back in the woods and are joined by increasing numbers of redstarts. A cuckoo echoed across the valley this morning and a few tree pipits are singing on the bracken slopes of Foel fawr, the hill opposite the main part of the reserve. Carrying out a butterfly transect I saw speckled woods. peacocks, a small tortoiseshell and a couple of lovely male orange tips and saw a freshly emerged large red damselfly, the first of the year. In the next few days I expect the first wood warblers, sedge warblers and house martins which have already been seen elsewhere in the county but have yet to arrive on the reserve. Rather early this year has been the emergence of bluebells with many shooting up and flowering though the best of this magic blue carpet has yet to arrive.Spring is truly here, despite the odd night frost.