A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Flummoxed By Dunnocks

Doom and gloom, I'm already getting withdrawal symptoms. Yes, BBC2's Springwatch has finished for another year. I'm not a big TV watcher, though I am partial to the odd comedy, film or nature programme. But Springwatch has me addicted. I'm not really sure why. Perhaps it's because it's live TV (live TV is always the best if only for the gaffes), perhaps it's the unlikely but riveting combination of the eccentric, unbelievably knowledgeable Bill Oddie and the vivacious, sexy Kate Humble, perhaps it's the comedy (both intentional and unintentional), perhaps it's the sweet but misguided humanizing of nature (yet what's wrong with a bit of anthropomorphism between friends anyway?), perhaps it's the comically desperate desire to create drama out of mundanity, perhaps it's the thrilling shots of rare beasts like the Scottish wild cat or the close-ups of bird chicks hatching. I don't know - but I suspect it's a combination of all of these that has me glued to the screen.

This year Bill and Kate were bunkered in Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, Norfolk, directly below a wren's nest; and the enthusiastic and talented wildlife cameraman Simon King kept popping up at different places in the Cairngorms. His shots of ospreys fishing taken by an ultra-slow motion camera were fantastic and opened up a whole new world. Another classic moment was when a family of fledging goldeneye ducklings literally hurled themselves out of their tree nesting box onto the ground. Also Oscar and Emmy, the delightful bobbing oystercatcher chicks, were terrific value. Fabulous. And in what other TV programme can you witness uncensored in-your-face mating (whether it's shagging stag beetles or ovipositing banded demoiselle dragonflies), infanticide (that rogue male swallow), straight murder (the weasel and the baby reed bunting) and cannibalism (the barn owls) - all within an hour?

Oh well, I suppose I'll have to quit the sofa, get out the house and go see some real wildlife in the real world. (Some slithy toves, borogroves or mome raths would be rather nice but I think they're a bit elusive round these parts.) However there's always Autumnwatch to look forward to...

PS Kate Humble coined in Thursday's final programme the wonderful phrase "flummoxed by dunnocks" which I've used as the title of this post.

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