Wednesday, 17 November 2004

Birding with Bill Oddie

To any regular readers of this blog, first an apology for the silence over the past few weeks. Life has been hectic, starting with a visit to our projects in Belize, and then a trip to Patagonia.

Despite what some may think, travel on conservation business is rarely as glamorous as it sounds -- meetings, looking at accounts, planning strategies are often simply hard work, in an office. Nonetheless, I do try and see some of the wildlife. But Patagonia was different. This time my sole function (apart from the Annual General Meeting of the Reserve) was to make sure Bill Oddie and the BBC crew saw everything they wanted to. In other words I had to get out in the field and find wildlife. Bill was making a special one-off film on the wildlife of Patagonia (for transmission just after Christmas) and we (FundaciĆ³n Patagonia Natural and the World Land Trust) were providing all the facilities. It meant we were able to redecorate the Estancia buildings, so that even though they are far from luxury accommodation, they are adequate for the really keen visitor to stay in.

The Estancia La Esperanza delivered everything we promised -- and a bit more. Bill was able to see plenty of Guanaco, lots of Mara, wild Guinea Pigs, Armadillo and much more. There were plenty of birds, including Gull-billed Terns, which appear to be the first records for Patagonia -- and they were recorded on video. In fact we added six species of birds to the Estancia's list.

After a few days on the Estancia, I left Bill and the BBC team, to visit another NGO, in Paraguay (more of that another time), while they all went to the Valdes Peninsula. They were off to film the Elephant Seals, and go whale watching. The last time I had been involved in filming there was when David Bellamy came down, and on the last day, I left him on the Peninsula, and at the very moment I was flying to Buenos Aires, he was on the beach watching the famous Killer Whales, running up the beach to catch seal pups. This time I was again en route to Buenos Aires, when, according to Stephen Moss the producer, Bill was heard musing as he walked along the beach -- something along the lines of how much he'd like to see the Killer Whales coming for the seal pups, but how he'd really want the seal pup to escape. Then a few minutes later, it actually happened. The Killer Whale appeared, grabbed a pup, tossed it into the air, and the pup escaped, and ran up the beach, apparently unharmed.

I can't wait to see the film . And Bill's infectious enthusiasm will surely stimulate more people to experience Patagonia's stunning wildlife.

1 comment:

  1. I want to enlist support for a protest to the Forestry Commission who are responsible for burning areas of the New forest heathland at this time when birds are nesting. In one area between Ipley Bridge and Ferny Crofts ground nesting hen harriers have regularly been seen, that area has now been burnt. Please send your protest to the Forestry Commission.