Springwatch at Pensthorpe 2008-2010

For three exciting years, Pensthorpe played host to the hugely popular BBC Springwatch series and had a fabulous time doing so.

In 2007 Bill Oddie visited the reserve to film Pensthorpe’s corncrakes for a wildlife programme he was presenting. Springwatch was also looking for a new site and Bill suggested that the researchers should include Pensthorpe in their shortlist of possibilities. The Series Producer described the reserve “like a jewel. A microcosm of habitats – from lakes, wader scrapes, wetland and wildflower meadows to Breckland, wildlife-rich farmland and ancient woodland”.

The hope was that Pensthorpe would “feel wilder and more exotic” with a new cast of ground-nesting birds, reptiles as well as stoats, hare and deer. The River Wensum, which flows through the heart of the reserve, is home to rare and endangered water voles, otters, the native white-clawed crayfish, and also wild brown trout.

In 2009 Chris Packham joined Kate Humble to co-present the series. A former Springwatch producer Martin Hughes-Games made his debut in front of the camera when he joined the presenting team.

The Reserve showed it was able to offer more than just birds and the characters emerging from trees, reeds, lakes and meadows made for compulsive viewing with many Springwatch ‘firsts’ added to the list. From the breeding avocets to witnessing how gentle sparrowhawks can be as they turn their eggs and delicately feed their young, Springwatch at Pensthorpe made for fascinating viewing.

The natural world of the birds and animals here at Pensthorpe, which we were privileged to see on our screens each evening, was truly remarkable. As you well know, nature doesn’t stop rolling the minute the cameras stop! The seasons slip round; the visitors (both feathered and human) come and go-passing through to rest and feed or just take in the tranquility. The landscapes adapt and evolve; the leaves dramatically change colour, dropping to the forest floor which makes every season here at Pensthorpe completely different.

Filming Facts

  • On-site recording 24/7 for 3 1/2 weeks
  • Each satellite link involved a signal path length of 44,600 miles – 22,300 up and down!
  • 36 television transmissions planned over 12 days
  • Over 16 miles of electric, sound, fibre optic cables were laid over the reserve
  • Over 60 mini cameras and 45 microphones were on site
  • 6,580 sq ft of temporary office space was needed to accommodate the 120 office and production crew, which doubled up as the “Springwatch Village”
  • 2 generators provided continuous power for the 23 days of filming.