Michaela Strachan returns to BBC2 on Monday to host a very special 10th birthday edition of Springwatch, alongside show regulars Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games. Here, she gives a teaser of what to expect…
For the next three weeks, Springwatch will be coming live from RSPB Minsmere on the beautiful Suffolk coast. What species of wildlife can be found here?
“The one we’re all very excited about seeing is the bittern, an amazing but very shy bird. There are also ground-nesting birds such as avocets and oystercatchers and we’ll probably get some drama with predators such as marsh harriers. There are also stoats there apparently. The local people are actually quite blasé about the stoats – they see them down the shops and everything!”
What do you most enjoy about filming live?
“One of the most exciting things, as always, is to see the drama that unfolds, particularly in the birds’ nests. We can’t predict any of it, it’s not a script we can write – it’s just great to see what develops in front of us and writes it’s own story.”
There’s also a human element to this series, with the story of Jo Milne, a lady who’s been deaf since birth, who hears the dawn chorus for the first time after having cochlear implants fitted…
“The dawn chorus is so special in the UK because you don’t hear that variety of birdsong anywhere else and now, with the flick of a magic switch, Jo can hear all this sound for the first time. I can’t imagine what that must be like for someone who’s never heard it before – it’s extraordinary!”
How pleased are you to be celebrating 10 years of Springwatch?
“I think we’re all really proud to be on a show that has lasted 10 years and is still as popular as it was, maybe even more so than, when it first started. I think the show’s original presenters Kate Humble and Bill Oddie have left a real legacy for us three to continue.”
Speaking of Bill, he’ll be making a return to the show to explore how Britain’s wildlife landscape has changed over the past decade. What changes have you witnessed?
“People are concerned, for example, about the decline of hedgehogs on farmland yet there now seems to be more of them in cities. A lot of animals like hedgehogs and foxes are adapting to living a different lifestyle among people and in urban areas.”
Do you think the growth of modern technology in recent years has made young people less inclined to explore Britain’s wildlife?
“I think we have a problem in that computers and the internet are taking a lot of children away from being outdoors and enjoying nature. We have a responsibility to inspire kids to go outside!”
What are your fondest memories of playing outside as a kid?
“I wasn’t massively into tree climbing, but I loved building dens and I just loved being out. But you have to use your imagination and creativity to play games outside and I think there would be some children in 2014 who wouldn’t actually know what to do once they got out there. Plus, there seems to be a greater level of ‘fear’ now – kids these days aren’t even allowed to play conkers!”
Are you still based in South Africa? And do you like coming back to England?
“Yes, I am but I come back to England a lot. To be able to immerse myself in British wildlife for a month is a pleasure and I love it!”