BBC Springwatch TV programme to broadcast live from Purbeck

The wildlife-rich habitats across Purbeck are to star in the latest BBC Springwatch series, presented by Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan from RSPB Arne.

The popular nature programme, starting on Monday 29th May 2023, will be broadcast live over three weeks from the nature reserve on the edge of Poole Harbour in Dorset, with filming also taking place in Durlston and Studland.

Springwatch presenters

Springwatch’s Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Iolo Williams and Gillian Burke

Springwatch comes from Arne for first time

This is the first time that Springwatch has been broadcast from Arne, although Autumnwatch did come from the location in 2016 and Winterwatch in 2017.

RSPB senior sites manager for Dorset, Peter Robertson said:

“I’m really pleased that we’ll be able to showcase the rare and special wildlife here at Arne. Now is probably the best time of the year, with many species having come out of hibernation and the migrating birds returning.

“There’ll be lots of things to see including reptiles like smooth snakes and sand lizards, as well as birds like the nightjar and Dartford warbler, which are likely to be stars of the show.

“However, part of the excitement of Springwatch is that you never know what the team will be able to capture on film. They may plan to record one thing but come back with something completely different!”

Viewers can look forward to live cameras capturing the wildlife in real-time, and including a new array of nest cameras too. The RSPB’s Arne site itself will feature up to 30 remote cameras, each hoping to capture the drama and joy of the wildlife awakening to spring.

RSPB arne nature reserve
RSPB arne nature reserve looking over Poole Harbour

The view from Arne over Poole Harbour to Brownsea Island

Oil spill pollution at Arne

There was plenty of drama earlier in the year too, when a pipeline belonging to the oil company Perenco spilled a mixture of oil and water into Poole Harbour close to the Arne shoreline.

An emergency response to limit the damage sprang into action and fortunately the fears that many birds would be adversely affected and die, did not materialise.

However the pollution has badly damaged several hectares at Arne and it will take a long time to restore the habitat. The TV programme is unlikely to be able to avoid the subject.

Little Sea in Studland

Little Sea at Studland is Britain’s largest lowland oligotrophic lake – that means it is low in nutrients and can support rare species

Studland dunes

The heather has been scrapped back to revela more of the sand dunes at Studland

“So special for so many rare species”

TV presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan will anchor the show from a makeshift studio at Arne, while Springwatch regular Iolo Williams will be out exploring the rest of Purbeck, including Studland.

Countryside manager for the National Trust in Purbeck Mark Singleton said:

“At Studland, we have the sand dunes, a dynamic and changing landscape and Little Sea which is so special for so many rare species. We’ve been working hard to restore the habitat, scraping away some of the gorse and heather to reveal more of the sand for insects like the Tiger Heath Beetle.

“To be working here in a landscape where there’s an increase in wildlife and things are getting better rather than worse, is quite unique!

“Part of that is down to history, as this area was one of the earliest to be designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and we’ve been working together for many years with lots of organisations like the RSPB, Dorset Wildlife Trust and Durlston Country Park owned by Dorset Country Park, to improve the local natural environment. It’s going to be exciting to be able to share all of this with the Springwatch viewers!”

Anvil lighthouse viewed from Durlston Country Park

Durlston Country Park is located on the dramatic Jurassic coast

Early spider orchid at Durlston
Durlston Country Park

In 2023 more than 2,000 rare early spider orchids were counted in just one field at Durlston, compared to only 1,000 from Durlston Head to St Aldhelm’s Head in 1986

“It will be lovely to show off Durlston!”

With the wildflower meadows at Durlston Country Park at their peak during the time of the filming, it’s expected that Springwatch will be focussing on the wild orchids, cowslips and butterflies along the dramatic Jurassic coastline.

Project leader and ranger at Durlston Country Park, Ali Tuckey said:

“It will be lovely to show off Durlston! There’s around 500 species of wildflowers across the 340 acres of limestone meadows – with nine species of orchids and 34 species of butterflies – an area of incredible diversity – one of the best in the country.

“It will be absolutely stunning with bush crickets among the grasses and orchids and all the butterflies to spot in the fields.

“Of course there will also be all the seabirds, including our colony of guillemots and we may even be lucky to have some of their eggs hatch during the Springwatch filming.

“By coincidence, it’s the very first National Nature Reserves Week – from 20th to 29th May – just before the Springwatch series goes on air, with lots of events going on at Durlston, so I’d urge people to come and visit and get a very special in person preview of all that there is here – there’s plenty to see!”

White tailed eagles over Studland
Mike Cheesman

White tailed eagles spotted flying over Studland

More than enough going on to fill three weeks

With the reintroduction of ospreys and white tailed eagles to the area and all the marine life in Swanage Bay plus some of the best bat colonies in the UK there’s plenty to fill up the filming schedule in Purbeck.

However the series will also include a number of films from Gillian Burke who’s taking a road-trip across North Wales, exploring the region’s natural beauty from Snowdonia, across the Menai Straits to Anglesey.

RSPB arne nature reserve wetlands

RSPB Arne has a variety of habitats from wetlands…

RSPB arne nature reserve

…to woodlands

“A chance to learn something new”

Rosemary Edwards, executive producer of Springwatch said:

“We are excited to bring this year’s Springwatch live from RSPB Arne, at the heart of Purbeck Heaths, home to an astonishing array of wildlife, from birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and more.

“We hope that audiences will have a chance to learn something new about their favourite species, or even discover new ones.

“We hope that this year’s programmes will inspire more people to explore the beautiful and diverse nature we have in the UK, and encourage them to learn how they can make a difference too”.

Further information

  • Springwatch returns to BBC Two on Monday 29th of May at 7.30 pm and will continue from Tuesday, 30th May at 8 pm. It will also be available on BBC iPlayer.
  • More about RSPB Arne
  • More about National Trust-owned Studland
  • More about Durlston Country Park

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