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Autumnwatch Red Button

Posted by pete marsh 
Autumnwatch Red Button
November 02, 2013 02:39PM
Just out of interest did anyone manage to record (on 301??) yesterday evenings sequence on the Heysham north harbour wall Mediterranean Gull or nearby wader flocks with Richard Taylor-Jones? Please can you get in touch if you have a recording? Thanks very much.
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 02, 2013 06:14PM
No - but great interview with you Pete.
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 02, 2013 07:37PM
If that was Autumnwatch Unsprung, it's on BBC iPlayer

Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 03, 2013 06:34AM
Pete, If you are able to get in touch with the initial researcher Rob or maybe better still the producer (autumnwatch extra - red button) Laura Thorne, they will probably be able to get one of their technical staff to put it on DVD for you and send it through. Its worth a go..
Good luck,

PS: Sorry I missed that one as well.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2013 08:38AM by bryan yorke.
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 03, 2013 01:04PM
Laura has been in touch, Bryan, thanks, but I've just found out why they were so reluctant to film away from the Leighton Moss area - the remit was not "Morecambe Bay" with a logistical base at Leighton Moss, but based on "Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay RSPB Reserves" - a very different definition of Morecambe Bay (see e.g. Annabel's on-line article for 'Visit Lancashire').

It would be nice to redress this and have a future programme be it Spring, Autumn or Winterwatch actually based on Morecambe Bay - masses of material without resorting to hand fed otters/herons/rats :-)
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 03, 2013 04:01PM
It was interesting to read your contribution, and now I suppose that's the reason they did not want to come out and film the "vismig" and there was plenty of Chaffinches (if nothing else) about at that time.

Can't complain, I really did enjoy the experience I had and did manage to get a little about vismig over, but there was/and is vast archives of information on the subject on the ready if they ever want it.

PS: Pete, can you let me know how I find Annabels article... thanks

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2013 04:21PM by bryan yorke.
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 03, 2013 06:50PM
Just a few facts and perspectives to counter Pete Marsh's usual jaundiced views based on snippets of information padded out by speculation presented as facts.

The reason BBC came here in the first place was due to the huge efforts of us at Leighton to persuade the producers what was on offer both on site and in the whole area. We flagged all the areas especially the whole of Morecambe Bay and it was us that put them in touch with Pete to makes sure they got the best potential locations to film wader spectacles. Pete was in charge of directing them to the best places for Knot etc. We thought that was the best way to get some great footage. They did get some and showed some - maybe not as much as some would like but BBC run the shows and decide what to use and what to drop. I personally bust a gut to get them to film twice at Gaitbarrows - personally taking the film crew and a presenter to do a piece on leaf colour and glaciation. This was actually programmed for Friday show but they over ran with one story and it was dropped at the last minute to my suprise and frustration.

Because it is a live show they need things very close to their hub for the live bits in order to use radio links and to move presenters around quickly. So live stuff was restricted to being very close to Leighton but we did persuade them to do a live piece from the Bay (Pete seems to have convieniently forgotton to acknowledge this)

They only have short timeframes to do their pre recordings and then edits - the first cameraman only came up just 10 days before the first live show to film a number of things, the other cameramen did not arrive until a few days before they went live. This type of show is very different to a documentary where they can do months of pre recording and editing and cutting. They got some footage of waders but I believe that the conditions and state of tide did not always coincide when camera teams were available.

We passed on all information that came into us and we managed to get them to despatch 2 cameramen to Three Land Ends for the guaranteed Goose roost footage at the precise location and time as advised by Pete himself. Unfortunately the geese did not perform that night as they came over after dark and further south.
We tried to get them interested in the Firecrest as a good migration story link but they did not persue that one. I think they might have done a Twite piece but they had not arrived at Heysham in time for BBC to develop the footage and story.

Also passed on the Vismig info but they were not convinced about how to best make it work on the live show with such time constraints on camera crew.

We had not input into the actual content of the 4 shows other than trying to persuade them to try and film certain things. Many of which they tried to film and many that they did film did not make it onto the shows.

So it is just not true what Pete says regarding BBC not wanting to go away from Leighton - they filmed at Walney which is about as far away from Leighton on the Bay as you can get - and we are proud at having persuaded them to come here in the first place and know full well that we tried our hardest to get as wide a coverage as possible. The simple fact is that the Producers decide to show what they think will make a good live TV show and not necessarily what we might think makes a good show.
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 03, 2013 08:19PM
Excellent post Robin....I look forward to seeing some responses.
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 03, 2013 09:01PM
So they have found a scapegoat for the crap coverage of the birds in morecambe bay itself. I was never "in charge" of anything related to waders. 'In charge' means being paid for your time and attending logistical meetings deciding on such matters as priorities and eg which locals around morecambe bay to bring on board. There is no way I would have suggested the Pfg on the night in question but did suggest ('suggest' not 'direct' as per voluntary status) the night when they did get some footage. I was never part of any pre planning of which bird related aspects of morecambe bay shld be addressed, simply an unpaid volunteer giving about a days worth of free time and a fair bit of fuel to help... Then being asked to help with the presenting at very short notice as Chris could not make it.

It is really unfortunate that I have been portrayed as an unreliable source of information whilst being involved in unpaid voluntary advice as it really doesn't go very well on the cv for paid work!
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 03, 2013 09:40PM
Look - it was a successful show and got an overwhelmingly positive response on the Autumnwatch website, facebook and twitter. I enjoyed it - rats and all ! It was a real eye-opener to see the effort that went into making the programme both on and off the site. A live show is never going to be perfect - everyone from producers, cameramen, presenters, interviewees and all those who were giving advice as to what and where to film had to make quick decisions. That it all comes out (mostly) good in the end is amazing. So let's just celebrate the effort that Robin and the gang at Leighton Moss made to get the Autumnwatch team to come and I'd like to say thanks to them and to everyone who helped to make the programmes in any capacity (including whoever makes the orange drizzle cake). Even the Starlings got the hang of what they were supposed to do by the end of it as well !
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 03, 2013 09:56PM
Not looking for a scapegoat myself just a balanced view. I think if you actually read the post properly it does not say anywhere that you or anyone was to blame for anything - you have just tried to interpret it that way for whatever reason.

All I was pointing out to others reading your post (to counter your statement about some apparent narrow focus created by or promoted by Leighton) was the fact that there was actually a lot of effort put in by a lot of people including yourself to try and get a wide coverage from around the area not just around Leighton and to try and get the coverage that the BBC wanted and requested help with, but not everything worked out in a way that then got onto the programmes. Some things did get filmed well and still ended up on the cutting room floor so to speak.

And actually you were in charge of sending them to the best spot for flocks of waders which you made very clear to all that you knew the best place to film and you sent them to the right places for those big flocks of waders which they filmed and you even got the chance to do an interview about them too which made it onto the show - most people would be well pleased with that. But the wildlife does not always perform on the day that the camera is there and as previously said this type of show does not have the luxury of many months of filming beforehand to go back again and again to get the footage that the producers like, unlike a documentary filmed over a longer period.

The geese were a last minute request from BBC who originally wanted to keep geese to feature on winterwatch despite us trying to promote the Pilling and Fylde area from the outset. Then they came to us with a change of mind and just one afternoon to shoot - with your help we sent them to the best place but it did not happen that afternoon in a way that they could get the footage they wanted and they were unable to try again the next day. No one blaming anyone it just happens. The point again is that it was not for a want of trying that that did not make it onto the show.

The overall point is - that despite your clear statement to the contrary there was a lot of coverage away from Leighton and lots of people especially those of us at Leighton were trying to find things and angles for as much of that as possible to be covered in a very short timescale. Many things did not make it past the researchers and producers but that does not mean there was some kind of hidden agenda at work - just means they had lots to choose from and what they used was driven by how they wanted each show to look.
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 03, 2013 10:46PM
If I had known I was in charge of morecambe bay wader footage I would have spent far more time with Lindsay the cameraman who was available during the decent tide heights prior to the flat calm conditions and the tide which was just too low on the presenters day. As it was I assumed I was just there to point him in the general direction with Leighton staff then liaising with him. I didn't realise he was completely on his own in an area where local knowledge for each tide height in relation to weather is so critical, given the very shallow gradient. What I am saying is that I should have been asked to be more hands onto get the best out of the tides in relation to bird location. I just feel that we didn't do Morecambe bay justice with respect to ending up with any decent footage until Richard came out on the higher Friday tide and got some reasonable stuff for the red button.

Was it always the intention to have lengthy stuff on urban foxes in Bristol or did that reflect he lack of quality footage up here. The reason I ask is that whilst it is very viewer friendly, it's hardly relevant to the ' migration' theme

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2013 10:49PM by pete marsh.
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 04, 2013 08:43AM
If had been 'in charge' of Morecambe bay wader footage:
1) Meeting at the very early stages to discuss opportunities on not very helpful tides during the filming period. My suggestions would have been:

a) Concentration on Oystercatcher as MB is the most important site for this species in winter and close footage of roosting and feeding birds absolutely guaranteed at all tides/tide heights. They also fulfil the migration theme as any flock can have birds from Faeroes, Iceland, Norway, Shetland as well as various Scottish/northern England and even local breeding sites

b) Concentration on feeding waders of various species and look at bills feeding methods etc e.g. the Lune mudflats at Sunderland on a low afternoon tide absolutely ideal for light and close birds

c) Re-the "spectacle" of wader flocks comparable to the Starling murmuration. This seemed to be a preconceived remit as regards waders and furthermore specifically limited in their minds to Knot. The available waders providing that spectacle were not exclusively Knot but a mixed gang of Grey Plover, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot acting as a single swirling organism. The problem with these was the afternoon tides during the main filming period and also the low nature of these. Although a photographer was dispatched earlier in the week to obtain footage, I was neither asked to accompany him to advise on getting the best footage from the best locations in relation to the tide (tricky) and he was also very unlucky with the weather

d) As regards the "spectacle" I tried to emphasise time and time again that it was the combination of Siberian/Scandinavian and Greenland/Nearctic waders which was the key theme here, not "Knot as such". I tried to convey that fact that Bar-tailed Godwit is now on a par with Arctic Tern as regards migration 'wow' factor, but this didn't seem to register. All this could have been discussed and emphasised if I had been at a strategy meeting from the word go

Therefore, if I was to be perceived as "in charge" of waders, I should have been able to do it properly as per above with a meeting to discuss what was available and how to go about it, which species to prioritise etc, Instead I got the impression that they saw waders footage as nothing less than a repeat of Snettisham Knot which was not numerically possible in Morecambe Bay at the end of October. Oystercatcher should have been the main emphasis with the 4-species spectacle a great bonus if by chance the unfavourable tide allowed good footage, especially perhaps of Bar-tailed Godwit
Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 04, 2013 07:17PM
Can't help feeling we are taking this far too seriously. Autumnwatch is not ground-breaking scientifically exciting television, it is mid-week, mid-evening eye-chewing-gum.

After Bill Oddie left Springwatch/Autumnwatch, we gave up watching as Kate the Giggle turned it into Playschool goes outdoors. It still hasn't recovered fully.

We did watch this series but it left me wondering why they bothered to do it live at all. It would have been better planned, organised and edited if they had recorded all the material and gave it a professional presentation. The live aspect added nothing except chaos.

In the 4 hours I watched (well I did doze off at times) there were some interesting bits and some "nice" pictures.

I didn't think it plugged Leighton Moss as a place to visit very well, but I bet:
1. that lots of people turn up at 10 a.m. asking where the starlings are
2. that someone comes looking for the Manx shearwaters
3. that they sell tons of lemon drizzle cake.

Re: Autumnwatch Red Button
November 04, 2013 11:05PM
Jeff, I held back on commenting here but you have basically mirrored my opinion so I thought I'd put my tuppenceworth in. Without treading on toes my feelings are as follows...

Pete, without having editorial control of your contribution you will always be onto a losing position that will leave you dissatisfied so better to sit it out regardless of your undisputed expertise. However, the portion shown with your input was insightful and very valid. Something you should be pleased with. The producers obviously had an agenda different, shall we say, to your interests. This is why I elected not to do a Swift interview this summer after your call. No national medium will allow you contributory editorial control prior to presentation. As for production design or input, then forget it, they have their own agenda.

As for the programme:

Ms Humble I have a lot of respect for, she has dipped out of most of the x-watch project citing other more pressing engagements and she has a very interesting programme in the Wye Valley near Monmouth consuming and not making her money. Ms Strachan however with her considerable scientific qualifications, global commute and track record of fluffy animal hugging on camera, well I'll defer comment. Mr Packham is very knowledgeable and holds careful views (eg the Badger cull or the Anglesey Red Squirrel project) on controversial subjects close to his chest when dealing with a 'Light Programme' presentation. Mr Hughes-Games has an obvious qualification and capability but is cast as the 'active comedian' As a whole the compilation is obviously designed to be out of the populist 'Top Gear' style of presentation rather than something of real scientific value. If 'The Stig' had turned up in a motorboat to do some tape luring I honestly would not have been very surprised. This is evinced by the endless tosh on knitted and paper birds, lemon cakes and other such bollocks deserving of Banksy's 'Exit through the Gift Shop'.

To conclude. I am a loyal member of the RSPB and have been since 1972. They are reasonably decent land managers and organise their holdings and MOST of their policies well. They could have done a lot lot more in Bowland with their power over the last thirty years, especially in the Westminster Village. My biggest disappointment, like a lot of reasonably intelligent people however, is that I could do without the cheesy handclapping magazine and the endless inserts. I receive a lot of post from them. The envelope with my membership card is opened, valued and carried everywhere. Everything else is appropriately recycled without being read, including their latest incarnation of the magazine. Rant over.....sorry.....but I felt Pete needed some support here.
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