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Monday 27 May 2024

Interview with Michaela Strachan - Springwatch 2024

Michaela Strachan

Michaela Strachan (Image: BBC Studios)

Springwatch 2024 returns with an exciting schedule, broadcasting from RSPB Arne in Dorset and exploring wildlife across the UK, including the Isle of Bute, Loch Lomond, and Glasgow. Airing on iPlayer and BBC Two from 27 May, the programme features live updates, behind-the-scenes insights, and new nest cameras. With the theme "Little Things Make A Big Difference," it emphasises the impact of collective conservation efforts. Presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Iolo Williams, and Megan McCubbin will engage audiences with stories from rare birds in Dorset to urban wildlife in Glasgow, highlighting the UK's diverse biodiversity and conservation challenges.

How can we support local wildlife this Spring?

Obviously we can do all the usual stuff that we always speak about that everyone should be doing anyway, like feeding the birds, putting out water, leave a bit of the garden messy, plant local foods.

But also something we're going to be talking about this series is The Big Help Out, the biggest mass volunteering event of the year between the 7 to 9 of June. It's not just wildlife, it's volunteering for lots of different organisations, but obviously we're going to be focusing on the wildlife.

We're going to be looking at things like animal sanctuaries, environmental projects, local wildlife groups, doing all sorts of different things that people can volunteer with wildlife, anything from a beach clean to surveys, and it really is a great way that people can support local wildlife.

What are your favourite kinds of wildlife to spot around this time of year and why?

One of my favourite birds in the UK are puffins and also I'm choosing them because we're going to be filming some nests on the Dorset coast. I'm going to focus on this one species because it could actually be a real turning point for puffins this year. Their numbers have dropped dramatically, mainly due to climate change and overfishing and the loss of what they eat, which is sandeels.

But just recently the government have got some new legislation out which is stopping industrial sandeel fishing in the English North Sea and all Scottish waters from the 26 of March. And that's in time for the puffin breeding season, so I think it could this could be a real turning point for not just puffins, but other seabirds as well. And I find that incredibly exciting that something so big has been done to help a bird like the Puffin and so many of our of our seabirds around our coastline. I love puffins I love the colourful beaks and I love the fact that they're so interesting to watch and they're real characters.

What do you want viewers to learn from Springwatch?

I think like as in every Watch our aim is to inspire our viewers, inspire them to see wildlife, care about it, and then protect it. If you don't know about wildlife, you're not going to be interested. You're not going to care about protecting it. So I mean, I think that's what we really want viewers to take home from any series of the watches that we do.

And the other thing that we're promoting is the Hero Awards. We want to show people that anyone can make a difference, we can all be wildlife heroes, anyone can help with wildlife. And during the series, we're going to promote so many different ways that you can do that and to inspire people with our Hero Awards, awards where people have nominated others that have done amazing things for wildlife. And as I say hopefully that will inspire people to do their own things however big or small they might be.

Every series we learn something fascinating and something that surprises the experts. And I love it when we show those things and people go away with a wow moment from something that they would have totally overlooked. We want them to go away with wow moments and wow facts about things that they would never know about never had the chance to see.

What advice do you have for getting kids interested in wildlife spotting?

I think it's getting harder and harder to get kids connected with wildlife because of the competition between watching wildlife and the draw of social media and all the other platforms that kids get involved with. So I think the way to get kids into nature is using social media to inspire them. I think we've just got to find new ways of keeping kids connected, most kids are born with a fascination for wildlife. So the challenge is not to let kids disconnect with that, you know, to keep them with that fascination and I also think we just need inspiration from young people. And we're doing that more and more on the show.

What do you hope to see when you're in Dorset?

One of the things we're really excited about is cameras on a peregrine nest. We're rigging up cameras on Corfe Castle with the National Trust and it's the first time we've rigged a historic monument ourselves. And so that's exciting in itself. We haven't had cameras on a peregrine nest for a long time now. There's also a raven nest on Corfe Castle so it will be interesting to see the interactions between the peregrine nest and the raven nest . I think that's going to be quite an exciting nest for us to watch.

If you were a British wildlife species, what would you be and why?

I'd love to be a bottlenose dolphin. I think dolphins are smart, they're fit, they're speedy. They hang around in gangs, which looks fun, and they've got the ocean as a playground. They make people smile, and people are usually really pleased to see a bottlenose dolphin. People like dolphins and I'm one of those people who likes to be liked. So those are my reasons for wanting to be a dolphin!

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