Sunday, 3 November 2013

Bearded Tits and Drizzle Cake

The Autumnwatch team
BBC Autumnwatch has been a wonderful showcase for the wildlife attractions of Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay. Four days of filming and live broadcasting brought an unaccustomed bustle to the Yealand villages. I've just walked across the Moss and there are more visitors than usual: quite a crowd seeking out the bearded tits. I didn't go into the cafe, but I reckon the queue for the lemon drizzle cake might be even more impressive after Chris Packham's enthusiastic on-screen endorsement. 
Baking aside, the birds, deer and otters were rightly the stars of the show.  But I'm pleased to say the Beeb allowed me a few words about the history of the Moss -- I wrote the first guest blog of the week: 

...and on Tuesday I went on to Autumnwatch Extra and later Unsprung to talk to presenters Euan Mcilwraith and Nick Baker. The producers wanted a few props to illustrate the piece -- so Arthur and Barbara Walker's lump of peat (see post above) achieved its 15 minutes of fame. And Kendal Museum kindly lent me a couple of neolithic items which had been found on the Moss: an exquisite, leaf-shaped arrowhead and a wonderfully tactile stone net-sinker (for weighing down fishing nets). 

A neolithic net-sinker: courtesy Kendal Museum
Because the loan was at very short notice and because museums don't casually hand out their exhibits to enthusiastic amateur historians, the artefacts were accompanied through the evening by two vigilant student-curators from Kendal College: Rory Legge and John Holme. The three of us had a ring-side seat as the Autumnwatch producers and technicians choreographed an hour of live television from the barn at Grisedale Farm on the edge of the Moss. In a past life I was a studio producer for Radio 4's 'Today' programme and I was fascinated to see how a much more complicated live-location tv production was handled. It was a good show, delivered with near-balletic precision. 

I think this is one of the reasons we pay the licence fee.