Poor things and real things

Did you watch Planet Earth Live on Sunday night?  I did and there were some enjoyable moments in it.

It seemed to be all about going ‘Awww’ at cute little mammals that were having a tough time of making their way in the world – but enough of the presenters Richard Hammond and Julia Bradbury. I’ll stick with it, because nature is wonderful but I did wish I’d switched over to the snooker a bit earlier. Calling the programme ‘Live’ was asking for trouble when nature is unbiddable and so there is bound to be an awful lot of ‘this is what happened a few days ago’ going on.  It all felt downmarket, shallow and bitty. Not the BBC’s finest hour and it’s  shame becaues nature needs all the fans it can get.  To be fair, maybe this programme will increase the number of animal enthusiasts who will then support serious nature conservation work – I hope it does,  but at the moment it is not my cup of tea.  Is it yours?

, via Wikimedia Commons”]Over the weekend I did hear my first cuckoo of the year (so very late) on my first visit to my second BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey square.  What a relief!  And I visited a BTO Nightingale survey square a couple of times and was delighted and surprised to hear one nightingale on the first visit.  This was in a wood near where I live that is off the beaten track and I had never visited it before.  The nightingale sang beautifully for 20+ minutes on Saturday morning and I glimpsed it briefly a few times.  When I returned on Monday morning it was still there singing away, and perched out in full view for a few moments. But even better, there was another male there too.

Have you heard nightingales singing – ever? Find a way to go out and experience it some time.  Keats wasn’t kidding when he talked about ‘full throated ease’.  Listening to an unseen nightingale belting out its song, in short phrases in the gloom of the evening, when almost every other bird is silent, is a magical European experience.

If you live south of the Wash-Severn line (and not in Devon or Cornwall) there will be a nightingale somewhere near you even though they are thin on the ground.  It’ll be singing in the evening and early morning (and occasionally during the day – but then, so does everything else) for several more weeks.  Listen for the short phrases, the whistles, the variety, the croaks, the chug-chug-chug phrases and the loudness.  Listening for nightingales might give you an excuse to experience planet Earth live – really live!



64 Replies to “Poor things and real things”

  1. Mark,
    maybe you missed it. I was wondering if you could give us a list of all the bird species you saw in the survey referred to in the prvious post?

    1. Guy – I’ll do better than that, I’ll give you another blog some time later this week.

  2. I did not see the Planet Earth Live programme but I do feel that there has been a lot of dumbing down of wildlife broadcasting (of course that could just be a symptom of my age!). One irritating trend is for whole programmes in which we see the cameraman whispering in hides and commentating on his filming but never get to see the images he (it’s usually the same Scottish cameraman) has taken. I wonder if he even bothers to put a film in his camera! I do make a distinction though between this and the practice of giving a short slot at the end of a documentary to show how a particular sequence was shot which can be quite interesting and enlightening.

    1. Jonathan – thank you. I think what you describe is quite a bit better than what we were given on Sunday evening. But I wonder what others think. Twitter comment seemed to be a mixture of ‘Awww cute!’ and ‘this is rubbish’.

  3. It is not my cup of tea either. I didn’t switch to the snooker but did find myself picking up the laptop to do some work and was clearly not watching it properly as a result.

  4. What does Hammond know about wildlife ? The show is for the fluffy bunny folks and not for serious nature folk like ourselves.
    Don’t even start me on the foxes live show !!!

    1. Andy – thanks! What do you think of the foxes live show? I’m not convinced that Richard Hammond does know much about wildlife, but he may do for all I know, but I think you have helped me see one of my worries more clearly. I’m not sure I want Hammond and Bradbury to be experts (although maybe it would be good if they were) but I do want to believe that they care deeply about the subject they present and they haven’t convinced me. When I see Richard Hammond on Top Gear (which I don’t watch often, and then not for long) I am convinced that he cares about cars. Good for him. That makes him a good person to present that show.

      I am a serious nature folk (and you are too Andy) and it’s just possible we are toos erious. If this show gets huge viewing figures and converts viewers to caring more about nature andn its fate then that will be grat. But I think you need presenters with a pssion for the subject to get that impact and that is lacking here, in my opinion.

      1. well presumably even serious nature folk start off as unserious nature folk – one has to start somewhere!

        1. Giles – I agree with that. So the question is – will this programme grab the unserious?

    2. We’ve been here before – remember Alan Titchmarsh on the Wildlife of Britain?

  5. Have been thinking about this very question quite alot. Planet Earth the original TV series was about a delicate celebration of the wonders of the natural world, of all shapes and sizes, in nooks and crannies as well as roaming the plains and mountains. It took months of detailed planning and talented camera crews working in dedicated teams. Planet Earth Live could never manage to match that glory, but to focus on the large mammals almost entirely is to put a very unfair level of performance requirement on both Richard Hammond or Julia Bradbury, regardless of how appropriate they themselves are as wildlife presenters.

    With regard to nightingales, OH BOY!!! We are very very lucky to live near to where they breed and to come in late at night, or put the rubbish out in the middle of the night and hear that magical keening searing through the night air is utter heaven! Last year they brought their babies close enough that we saw them….they look like robin chicks, but sound very different to anything you have ever heard! We can’t hear them during the day, their song is masked by the other sounds of daylight, but at night the hedgerows are their stage with no competition. Pure, blissful magic!

    1. Amanda – welcome and thank you for a great comment. Very pleased for you, and envious, over the nightingales! You are so lucky – enjoy!

  6. Making me feel rather melancholy, being some 350 miles and a lifetime away from my last nightingale. 20 years ago staying with friends at St Neots visiting Little Paxton pits on warm summer evenings with hobbys hawking for insects and nightingales in the bramble bushes, bliss. Still 350 miles away so not much chance of nightingales so I’ll make do with blackcaps and garden warblers for the time being.

    1. Bimbling – many thanks. Blackcap – the northern nightingale. The north/south divide. Should public sector salaries be adjusted to local circumstances and northerners (and westerners) be compensated for fewer nightingales?

      1. Shhh! for goodness sake Mark…blackcock rookooing, snipe chipping and drumming, curlew bubbling and loons…what is it that divers do? I’ll be due a pay cut if this gets out!

  7. I did not see the programme – watching the trailers was sickening enough. Two presenters (one a petrol head ) who as far as I know have no knowledge whatsoever and a theme which has become so boring. How many more lions killing wildebeest and zebras do we need to see? How many more cute Black Bears in danger are we going to be subjected to.

    The trouble with the BBC (I know because I have worked for them) is that they know what we want to see. They are also beyond criticism and are so patronising. There was a time when BBC would talk to naturalists and conservationists to what issues were topical and make programmes around them.

    These programmes and I have to say that includes Spring/Autumnwatch do little real good for the future of wildlife here in UK or anywhere else for that matter. I have been fortunate to travel to many of the parts of the World where most programmes are made and the reality bears little resemblance to the films.

    No doubt the majority of the population will watch these “cuddly” images and think that is how the natural world is. It is so sad and as for the presenters I would be furioius if I were Bill Oddie, Chris Packam, Nick Baker etc.etc.

    I no longer bother to watch many of the wildlife programmes on TV yet I am passionate about nature conservation. There must be something wrong.

    I reckoned that this series would be garbage and it seems like that is the case.

    1. Derek – you sound a bit grumpy but I think you are speaking for quite a lot of people (certainly the grumpier people!). Thank you for your comments. Have you heard lots of nightingales recently? Your answer will probably tell me which of your two countries you have been in recently. go out and hear a nightingale – it will cheer you up for a while.

    2. I’m with you Derek. No way would I waste my time watching nitwits like Hammond and “eye candy” Bradbury!

      1. Coop – thank you but this blog does not necessarily agree or disagree with your politically incorrent views.

  8. Trouble with us ‘naturalists’ is we’ve seen or at least know all this before and it does appear to be dumbed down.
    What we need to kno wis how it affects interested none naturalists will it encourage them to get out and look at the wildlife in their own garden/park/nature reserve? Or is the fact that it’s big animals we don’t have putting them off looking cos we only have (mostly) little stuff.
    Good to see them feature elephant poaching though and Simon Reeves highlighted the plight of sharks wrt finning on his Indian Ocean programme which I am finding illuminating and learning quite a bit from. So a thumbs up in for the BBC for bringing to the attention of a wider audience those serious conservation issues.

  9. Well Mark approaching my 70th birthday I guess my training for a Grumpy Old Man is complete.

    All the migrants here in South-western France have been up to 2 weeks late. The arrival of Nightingales was spectacular. In one short walk I counted over 60 singing at once – it is impossible to put into words how exhilerating this is. Far better than watching TV nature programmes.

    Most migrants are here now except for Red-rumped Swallows. Three weeks ago they would have arrived but there are none at any of their regular haunts. I see there are a few in the UK perhaps they are ours. Please point them in our direction.

    1. Derek – there you are, see, a little thinking of nature puts a smile on your face again! thank you. If I see one of your red-rumps I will cheer, look at it closely and then suggest that you are in need of it.

    1. Giles – a few sneak in but not many. Can’t be loathing of clotted cream and cider because they live in Somerset! Too wet in some way? birds are a great mystery.

  10. My occasional glimpses into UK television and film for the natural world are few and far between – but what I do see is unfortunately, no matter how good, now eclipsed by the natural history output in France and from other European countries, which have given up presenter led coverage in favour of images with only occasional commentary, which is usually highlighting the plight of species and their habitats. Some natural history films are so good as to become the No1 at the ‘box office’ beating dubbed US blockbusters by a long margin – the film Oceans was such a film: http://www.oceans-lefilm.com/
    Most evenings on Arte there will be long, often 2 hour, documentary on a particular habitat and incoporate the opinion, without much edit, of all involved. Without wishing to sound sycophantic but wouldn’t it be great if those who really know the dynamics at play in a location were given such freedom of expression in the UK – thus people like yourself Mark and the farmers and the users are all allowed to state their case and demonstrate their knowledge without fear of edit whilst footage shows the nature in that habitat.
    TV in the UK now seems fixated on ‘fluffiness’ at the cost of everything else, rarely even delving into the actual needs to sustain ‘cute’ nature. This is not cultural as TV is far too capable of manipulating what is wanted to suit its own agenda – the resulting output then sets a dangerous precedent for NGO PR and even Government to tow along with – exposed as ludicrous as soon as a ‘real’ issue becomes live, which then usually result in a boil over which further fuels more general media lusting for fights to highlight.

    1. Pip – great comment and an interesting view from France. As far as sycophancy is concerned – remember, I have a great face for radio! thank you again.

  11. I was very disappointed with the show. The only thing live was 2 of the presenters and the animal footage was all shot earlier. Why spend the money sending Richard Hammond to Africa just so he can do a live report in the dark. The other very irritating matter is that they have given all the animals names. This is totally unnecessary and you’d never hear Sir David Attenborough referring to a monkey by the name of “Gremlin”. I prefer Spring/Autumnwatch although I know that has its critics as well. At least those presenters are fairly knowledgeable and enthusiastic. At least it gets people interested in their local wildlife which tends to be where the interest and love starts. None of these programes are any substitute in actually getting out there and seeing it for yourself even if it’s just to the local park/wood.

  12. Anthropomorphising wild critters with names! Don’t start me talkin’!

    While at university a post-grad of my acquaintance discussed his draft thesis with his Prof, who suggested that the sheep in his physiology work should be given names, for clarity and to follow convention. In response, the names suggested were “Woolly-headed ****** 1 & 2” – which was the correct response.
    Naming animals is dumb, birds dumber, and it’s just a formulaic pandering to the GP. Aahhh factor. Ratings. Otherwise rational people do it too – Cuckoo!

    Was Hammond actually in Africa, in the dark, or was it a cupboard up Whiteladies Road? I’m all for economy, especially if the end-product is worthless.

  13. Judging by the reaction to Planet Earth Live on this site and other sites with an environmental bent, I’m so pleased that my wife insisted that the TV stayed off last night and unless some footage emerges of Hammond being pursued through the African bush by a pack of pride of man-eating lions, I will not be watching any of it.
    Not that this would concern the producers at the BBC, they do not make shows like Planet Earth Live for environmentalists, they make them for the wider public, the majority of whom (I think) are outstandingly ignorant about the natural world.
    Nobody holds knowledgeable presenters such as David Attenborough, Simon King and Chris Packham in higher esteem than I do, but perhaps having non-expert presenters actually works for some people. Look at the success of Kate Humble on Spring Watch, not my cup of tea, but the public clearly like her.
    Who cares if the show is a bit ‘fluffy’ and laced with anthromorphic fallacy ? If it helps to capture the imagination of people who otherwise would not engage with the natural world then surely we should welcome it with open arms instead of treating it with po-faced distain….different strokes for different folks.

  14. Planet Earth. It was…….cute! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making animals appear cute and giving them human attributes (that is after all what makes humans like them and have empathy for them). But this was meant to be a factual programme. For a factual programme I learned the grand total of zero facts. Where was the expertise? Where was the analysis of the animals’ behaviour? No problems with the presenters but they do need a supporting cast of experts with them.
    And as for it being live……..

  15. It is a shame that the BBC feels that it has to give up its wonderful heritage of wildlife documentary making, in order to satisfy the woefully short attention span of the current audiences.

    It feels more like watching Playschool than The Blue Planet. Anthropomorphic, insubstantial, cloying and sickly sweet. If you treat your audience like idiots then they will happily behave like idiots; Foxes Live being a case in point.

    A wasted opportunity and a poor tribute to the provenance of the programme. The BBC should really get away from this style of magazine reality wildlife shows.

      1. Lol. Mark. If I said what I really think, I’d be as banned on this page,as Andy and I are on the Foxes Live page!

  16. I switched after 10 minutes I thought it was awful and a clear indication of the backwards momentum of the BBC with all countryside or environmental issues (even the Archers has become frankly stupid), which they did precious little in the way of public service broadcasting before, although much of their wider science programming seemed to be on the up for a while and with some great highly qualified presenters. Of course this is just TV, it is just entertainment but I do question those who say it is pandering to the masses, I don’t believe this is the case, it is creating the masses and in doing so also highlights a pretty poor education system.

    A blog or discussion on what we would like to see and what we think others or the masses should see would make much more interesting reading than a debate on the absurdity of Richard Hammond fronting a wildlife programme.

  17. Thought it was badly presented Mark and doubt it encouraged new people to enjoy wildlife.Think Imay have got it wrong about when subsidies were started as always had 1947 in my head so assumed I must have seen it somewhere but after searching on internet last night found absolutely nothing about start of subsidies but of course usually everything is on the internet and this the first time have not found the information I was looking for,know there was a small farmers scheme which gave subsidies in effect in early 60s.My apologies for any misinformation.However I do feel that they have been given to keep the end cost of food down so have been successful but suppose in fact the price paid through taxes and end price of food add to the same price they would be if there were no subsidies and the big losers of course would be the most vulnerable in society,the non tax payers.

  18. Ahhhh…. The omnipresent discussion of “dumbing down” (or not). Do we do it? Why do we do it? Should we do it?

    I watched the first Planet Earth Live programme and enjoyed it to be fair.
    Maybe not something someone of my qualification nor relatively advanced years should be saying perhaps, but there you go.

    I am a middle-aged zoologist (at least by qualification) and very often the “professional” or “scientific” consensus with contemporary wildlife films (like Planet Earth Live (PEL)) is that they are often dumbed-down these days, especially if the animals therein are given human names.

    Yes…. I guess that’s true, but I would like to think that by now, I can get over the anthropomorphic aspect of these shows (kids stuff really – I’d appreciate it if I was ten years old, but not now) and wonder at the magnificent camera work – which once again is beautiful to behold. The footage of the macaques jumping into the water (for example) was worth the hour in front of the TV alone in my opinion (although having studied a little in Sri Lanka I guess I’m a little biased).

    If someone held a gun to my head this evening and said they’d only pull the trigger if I could not remember what the names of the animals on PEL were, I’m afraid I’d be dead now – the (human) names of any of these animals on wildlife shows just washes straight off me these days (I’m so used to it).

    My beef with these shows lies not with the fact that (for example) Terry the terrapin is sunbathing in the swamp as Alan the Alligator floats “serenely by but with an air of menace clearly visible in his eeeevil eyes” but the fact that invariably wildlife shows these days seems obsessed with large mammals in particular – and very often only a tiny few of them also.
    The fauna of this planet we live on is so incredibly varied and rich – but all we seem to be fed to our TVs is footage of big cats, bears and dolphins….?

    I guess the fact that TV producers feel it necessary to give the wildlife human names (and far more frustratingly at least for the scientist in me, human feelings or emotions in many cases) is linked to concentrating mainly on filming the glory species.
    I’ve had enough of the big, furry, fluffy, large eyed cutey-pies. Give us some of the more weird-looking animals – they are invariably far more fascinating than the more-aesthetically-pleasing species after all.

    This (I guess) is a technique to appeal to as many people as possible – who, for example, doesn’t love a lion cub – and this technique certainly appeals to the average Brit more than (dare I say) your average Frenchman/woman.

    The British attitude to wildlife and animals is often dangerously…. “Disney” and any TV producer who is working on wildlife shows will know this all too well.
    He (or she) will get a nice fat fund for producing a film about wittle Bambi wunning away from nasty-wasty wolfy, but would probably get no funding at all for a film about the myriad of globular springtails and nematodes in leaf litter.

    And yet I partly agree with George McKay’s comment above also when he suggests its creating the masses (on this I agree with George although I think its pandering to the masses also – it’s a catch 22 situation in my view).

    Now… is this the only way we can attract new British blood into the biological sciences, research and conservation?
    I certainly hope not, but it I suppose it might well be.

    That said, it is probably a better ploy than Chris Packham’s technique of celebrating, or indeed championing “geekdom” which attracts no-one new to this wonderful field of learning (my wife is an experienced biology teacher and can certainly attest to that).

    As for the presenters, well…. this seems to be a modern trend these days also.
    It’s less and less about the wildlife – more and more about the cult of celebrity presenter.

    The poison dwarf (Bill Oddie) is the worst of a bad bunch but there do seem to be many wildlife presenters who fall into the trap of talking more about themselves (Hammond’s un-necessary reference to his “hat hair” on the first PEL) rather than commentating (with calm, unsensational authority) on the wildlife footage itself.

    Wildlife is endlessly fascinating, sensational, awe-inspiring, beautiful, tragic, provocative and incredible. It needs no fancy graphics, sensationalism, self-obsessed presenters or anthropomorphic techniques to grasp nor hold attention like some sort of animalian soap opera.
    Or does it? Are we that shallow? Have we forgotten how to appreciate anything that isn’t human.

    You know, I have a feeling that when David Attenborough is eventually gone, we’ll miss him more than we ever thought possible.

    So… I say…. In general we get what the majority deserve on TV I’m afraid – and as “Disneyfied” Brits, the majority deserve little lion cubs called Leo (or whatever the lion cub was called…. Larry? Lenny? Lawrence? Clarence? Wadddever).

    I think we should continue to dumb down if necessary (to attract the largest possible audience and therefore have the largest chance of igniting the first flames of serious interest in potential future biologists).

    The older amongst us, the more qualified, those of us who work in the field, or as described in a comment above, the more “serious” (the further on) will always be the minority – and will therefore probably always be a little frustrated by shows like this.

  19. Hmmmm…..I’ve been mulling over this topic whilst out surveying birds (live!) in north-west England. I didn’t hear a nightingale, nor a cuckoo; and there were no flying noses either (but I did see a peacock and a green-veined white – first butterflies in about a month).

    As a kid, in the 1980s and 1990s, natural history programmes = David Attenborough. I remember being allowed to stay up “after bedtime” especially to watch them. And then there was the Really Wild Show…and my life’s ambition was to be a presenter (or carry David Attenborough’s suitcase). Neither ambition has been fulfilled (yet); but I have become an ecologist and I think Messers Attenborough, Packham and Strachan contributed to this. And of course, the “The Life of…” series became the gold standard [my opinion]. My point?

    Entering the 2000s, with the advent of social media combined with the ‘computer age’, I guess the BBC Natural History Unit had to evolve to retain relevancy and audience? Of course it could re-make Life on Earth…but then would it be the same without David Attenborough? Or it could engage with an audience that are now more widely travelled and media socially interactive then the generation before it. So springwatch and autumnwatch aims to do this by engaging the audience as part of the show…and of course there is the ‘behind the scenes’ showing the hard work and dedication of the cameramen (and women) and support teams.

    And also, I suppose, by bringing in presenters like Richard Hammond, maybe the BBC are trying to engage an audience who wouldn’t necessarily watch a nature programme, but would watch a programme with Richard Hammond in it.

    And on a final point, why not have a programme (or series of programmes) on TV, radio and using on-line media that investigates some of the issues debated on this website. is there someone that follows Mark and reading this that can see an opportunity? A knowledgeable host (Mark), a willing suitcase carrier (me!) and Jeremy Clarkson would make a winning team.

  20. I find myself agreeing with much of what has been said already about Planet Earth Live. The use of cutesie names does niggle (but then, Jonathon Scott and Simon King, both massively experienced and knowledgeable professionals, have been doing that in their wildlife shows for years) and the presenters – both of whom I really like in their other shows – are obviously out of their depth here.

    Julia Bradbury, great in Countryfile and her walking series, can only gasp at how the bear cubs remind her of her toddler back home. Richard Hammond, great on Top Gear, did little but exclaim at the drama of the lone lion cub. Neither of them has the experience or background to add any insight into the situation of any of the species featured. Anthropomorphism is the inevitable result, and it is one of my great bugbears in these shows. I teach Animal Behaviour and it is a constant battle to make my students aware of when they are anthropomorphising, and show them how to avoid doing so. I suppose I could hold this show up as a prime example of how NOT to describe an animal’s behaviour…

    However, my real gripe is with how the show has been put together and promoted. It is called Planet Earth LIVE. Why call it that? It is obvious that watching live footage (actual, properly live) of wildlife for an hour would be risky and potentially tedious – so we are given pre-filmed footage of the animals. Why didn’t they call the show Planet Earth Diary, or Planet Earth Month, or some other title that more accurately reflects what we will actually be seeing? As has already been pointed out, the only “live” element is the presenters doing the links between the pre-filmed sections.
    So – why does Julia have to stand in the US while Richard stands (in the dark) in Africa, simply to link the films together? Could they not have done just as good a job from a studio in the UK? What a total waste of BBC resources!

    I don’t think I will be watching the rest of the episodes. It’s a shame, because the camera crews do a marvellous job. It could have been an innovative, fun, informative, successful format – but if it continues in the same vein then I think it will be none of those things. The BBC has missed a great opportunity.

    1. Anne – welcome and thanks for a great comment which says much of what I think too.

    2. I am sure many of your criticisms are valid and hands up I didn’t watch it and rarely watch any telly. However i also think there is a danger of being a bit cliquey and snobby about these things. Hammond may not be a ‘proper nature person’ but perhaps people identify with him an a way that they would not to such a person presenting it.

      There’s even been a petition started to silence Hammond which seems a bit much!

      1. Hi Giles,
        Personally speaking, I have no problem with the presenters as such (as I said, they are great elsewhere) but it’s the way they are used in this show that isn’t working for me. If they were merely reading from a prepared narrative script, then fine. If they were there simply to put questions to resident experts, then fine. But that’s not what is happening – they are commenting, live, on footage of animal behaviour. And, from what I saw, those comments were not informative (how could they be?) but just pointing and gasping and making anthropomorphic mistakes.
        I understand why the BBC chose them – they are popular and may draw in viewers that would otherwise not watch a nature show. And if spectacular footage of attractive mammals encourages somebody to take a wider interest, then that’s great. I just think an experienced wildlife presenter would make a better job of explaining what we are seeing.

  21. The seemingly relentless advance of media personalities like Julia Bradbury and Richard Hammond (among others) popping up in front of the camera on a range of different programmes drives me bananas.

    They’re clearly very good at presenting – and given Planet Earth Live is a show operating across several continets I suppose you need to have those skills honed to perfection. But’s all they really seem to good at, whatever programme they’re on. I got no sense that they really knew or cared much about the animals in their broader context – I just remember Julia tearfully comparing a bear cub to her young son, or Richard jokily pointing out the ‘deadly’ buffaloes near the tent.

    The programme seems like a good idea on paper – it’s live! It’s interactive! It has lions and tigers and bears (oh my)! But the need for it to have mass appeal seems, for me, to have ruined it – we just got cute babies on pre-recorded footage and shots of the same old familiar faces from other programmes cooing over them, and telling us how exciting it all was. A shame.

  22. Giles —-had to smile about the cliquey and snobby bit,really funny and out of all the criticisms that could be said about Mark and his followers that must be the remotest that would ring true but really good for a laugh if you read the differences aired sometimes.

  23. Didn’t watch it, wouldn’t want to watch it, and definitely wouldn’t let my child watch it. They’d learn more about wildlife if I chucked them in a hedge. It’s about the people (the presenters), people who as a conservationist I don’t have reason to respect, and add no value to my understanding about the natural world. But then again I guess it’s not aimed at me. Still no cuckoos in my Herefordshire patch – getting worried now.

    1. Wren – I think Thursday evening’s programme was much better – I’m glad I stuck with it.

  24. A gift from Toshiba. Unfortunately it can be fixed – think how much more time we’d all actually have to do our bit for wildlife (or just interact with it directly) if we weren’t stuck in front of the zombie machine. Did I share this with you before: http://www.whitedot.org? There is a claim that anyone who spends six hours a day in front of the box is at risk of dying five years sooner than those who enjoy more active pastimes.

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