A tribute to Johnny Kingdom on BBC4

In tribute to Johnny Kingdom, the BBC are repeating three episodes of his wildlife programme. Here is the link to Episode 1, in case you missed it. The other two episodes are shown tonight and tomorrow night on BBC4.

Johnny Kingdom, gravedigger-turned-amateur filmmaker spends a year recording the bird life in and around his home on his beloved Exmoor.
Johnny has spent three years creating a wildlife habitat on his 52-acre patch of land on the edge of Exmoor. He’s been busy nailing nest boxes on tree trunks, planting a wildflower meadow, dredging his pond, putting up remote cameras and wiring them up to a viewing station in his cabin on the land – all the time hoping against hope that not only will he attract new wildlife but also that he will be able to film it.
This year he is turning his attention to the bird life, hoping to follow some of the species he finds near his home and on his land, across the seasons. We see the transitions from the lovely autumn mists of the oak wood, through the sparkling snow-clad landscape of a north Devon winter, into spring’s woodland carpet of bluebells and finally the golden glow of early summer. The bulk of the series is from Johnny’s own camera. Don’t expect the Natural History Unit – instead expect passion, enthusiasm, humour and an exuberant love of the landscape and its wildlife.
The series begins at the end of autumn, with Johnny clearing out bird boxes and sorting out his new remote cameras in preparation for the winter. There are two birds in particular that he wants to film – the great spotted woodpecker and the wren. But the harsh winter looks as if it could spell trouble for the wrens and it will be spring before Johnny knows how well they have fared.
He has better luck with the woodpecker and eventually finds their roost. Meanwhile, at home, he struggles to get shots of a mistle thrush as his wife Julie and his neighbours disturb this shy bird as it feasts on a rowan tree.

Here is the link to Episode 1 which was shown yesterday on BBC4  in case you missed it. The next two episodes can be watched tonight and tomorrow.

(Photo of Johnny Kingdom taken from his Facebook page)

Exmoor Memories: Exploring Exmoor….

I first went to Exmoor as a teenager with my parents staying at Porlock Caravan Park: I remember hearing the sheep in the field next to the caravans. 25+ years later I was back camping with my husband and dogs at the same site. We holidayed in and around Porlock most years since and will be spending Christmas there this year. We love the scenery, the peacefulness and the wildlife – it’s a perfect place to unwind, enjoy the fresh air and appreciate how beautiful the area is. Favourite walks include Dunkery, Watersmeet, Valley of Rocks, Tarr Steps, Horner Water, Porlock Weir to Culbone, up and around Hawkcombe, and last year we found Bats Castle. This was a stunning walk up and over the grounds of the castle until you reach the old settlement. Up here you can see for miles. We came across Red Deer and Exmoor ponies. It was quite a steep descent in parts especially with an eager terrier and two Lurchers who all have keen noses! The dogs enjoyed being able to cool off in the river at Gallox bridge before we got back to the car. The area is perfect for dogs, it doesn’t bother us or our dogs that they need to be on lead in certain areas, they get plenty of exercise and stimulation from the new places and smells, we are all ready to relax after a day out exploring Exmoor.

Rachel Rice-Ault