Over the last month or so, I’ve been involved with Deadly Days Out; a roadshow which is touring the country alongside CBBC’s Live ‘n’ Deadly.
Working back stage, my role is to prep animals for the performers (Steve Backshall, Mark Amey and James McKay) so that they can transition between species on stage as smoothly as possible. This has meant that I’ve had the chance to get up-close and personal with some impressive creatures! Among them have been two species of eagle owl, a variety of hawks, a slew of reptiles and a giant pouched rat called Norman.
Norman, the giant pouched rat
Having already visited Birmingham, Cwmbran, Northampton and Liverpool with the tour, I’m taking a weekend off for the Wildscreen Festival, where I’ll be assisting with dive gear during the Beginners and Advanced Underwater Workshops
, and attending much of the event during the week.
In addition to all of this, in the run-up to Wildscreen, I’ve been drafted to research footage for filmmaker Jeremy Bristow in the creation of a promo film for the upcoming Convention on Biological Diversity. During this, I even had the chance to shoot some additional footage of my own for the promo. The film is currently in the edit, but I’ll grab a link when it’s finished!
Along with about 20 other volunteers, I spent yesterday afternoon helping the Chew Valley Ringing Station team with their annual Canada goose round-up. Each year, when the geese are moulting and so cannot fly, boats herd about 100-200 birds into a pen for ringing and release.
Canada geese in their temporary pen
Most of the volunteers acted as ‘runners’, handling the geese while trained ringers weighed and fitted them with new rings.
As I learned, cradling a Canada goose under your arm allows complete control over the legs and wings, which protects you from scratches to the front. The downside of this stance is that both your flank and upper arm are left at the mercy of the [now vengeful] bird’s long, slender neck – on the end of which is a bill that can bite you. And bite you it will.
Canada goose being carried by a nervous volunteer
Weighing a Canada goose
With the plentiful volunteers, we worked our way through the c. 120 geese fairly quickly, all of us sustaining a few bruises from the biting. Most of us were a little bit apprehensive about the more feisty individuals, and the final goose left in the pen seemed particularly displeased with the situation as it stood in a corner – neck arched and mouse agape.
“Careful, this one’s a hisser”, explained one of the wranglers inside the pen, whose role it was to catch and hand over geese to runners. Fortunately, the hisser calmed down once in hand!
Releasing a goose
All of the geese were released safely back onto the lake, many with new rings in place and about 30 being re-catches.
Springwatch just featured a short piece with Ed on ringing peregrine chicks. I was lucky enough to be around at the time of filming; a few pictures below.
Ed with chick
It’s been a busy week!
First up; I was recently asked by the Bristol Zoo Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project (AGDWP) to produce a film exhibiting some work they’ve been doing with Christ Church Primary School. The children there created stories which were acted out on the Downs in front of classmates and parents.
Jeremy DeCoursey and Claire Thompson are also involved in the project, with the footage to be shown at the upcoming Festival of Nature. Our shoot took place last Thursday and we’ll also be putting together a DVD for parents to buy, with the proceeds going to a conservation project based in Africa.
Misumena vatia, a rarely seen spider at the Blaise BioBlitz
Next, the second ever Bristol BioBlitz took place over the weekend; take a look at the blog here to see what the media team got up to. The event was a huge success, with a final tally of 536 (set to go up as BRERC finishes trawling through the species data).
I helped to produce two videos, which are below. They were loads of fun to make, but neither is meant to be a masterpiece; the idea was to keep content streaming in fast.
Finally, it was off to Milton Keynes the next day to help out as a Runner on a shoot for an upcoming Aardman production. I assisted with filming and also interviewed contributors. A grand day out! (sorry)
For the next week or so I’ll be working on getting the AGDWP project ready for the Festival of Nature.
Its been a bit quiet on here recently, but that’s all about to change. The National BioBlitz will be kicking off later this month in Bristol, and I’ll again be a part of the Media Team covering this. I also have a couple of other projects in the pipeline surrounding this, so keep an eye on this space!
In the mean time, I’ve written a piece on World Migratory Bird Day, which is being celebrated this weekend. Take a look here.
Ed’s presenter showreel is now finished!
Jeremy and I rounded everything off on Monday night, exporting at high resolution for DVD (using Compressor 3.5 as well as DVD Studio Pro 4 to make a menu), and at sufficient quality for the internet. We also took advantage of Motion 4 to make a couple of simple slates which correspond with Ed’s website logo.
Ed’s showreel on Vimeo.
Ed’s showreel on YouTube.
Hope you enjoy!
Made with thanks to Jeremy DeCoursey and Theo Webb
Special thanks to – Claire Thompson, Father Tom, Chew Valley Lake Bird Ringing Station and Wildscreen
As promised, some photographs from a recent trip to Exmoor below, and to give this post a bit more substance, I thought it would be worth mentioning one of my favourite photographers; Kevin Schafer.
Kevin’s website was the first place I encountered his particular philosophy in wildlife photography, which I know is shared by many. In addition, an old article on this subject by Kevin in BBC Wildlife Magazine, The Sad Demise of Wow , is certainly worth reading.
While not showing fantastic animal behaviour, all of the images below are displayed as shot (taken in JPEG format), with no post processing.
Hikers look out over the landscape
A bit of showreel news; we’ve recorded voice over and now have a second edit with music. The showreel itself is very nearly finished!