Thanet nature expert Nik Mitchell runs the Wildlife Conservation in Thanet page on facebook
This April I worked alongside BBC wildlife cameraman Richard Taylor-Jones and local wildlife guide Keith Ross to make a small film for the popular BBC programme Springwatch.
We spent a week filming some of the wildlife at St Augustine’s golf course in Cliffsend. It’s a nice film about wildlife on a golf course and in particular Britain’s fastest declining mammal the water vole.
We really enjoyed our time around the course from the cold sunrise starts to the warm sunset finishes. As is often the case with wildlife filmmaking it’s a real challenge and you really have to work your fieldcraft and put the time in to capture those often unseen and magical moments.
We tried to make the effort to show how wildlife is living alongside the golfers in a shared space. We spent time looking out for wildlife and an equal amount of time looking out for flying golf balls that sometimes drifted in our direction.
The real nature highlight of the film is the water voles. As the fastest declining mammal in the country they are very rare and are under real threat of extinction. They were once abundant, but populations have declined by over 90% in the last 50 years due to habitat loss and because they are being killed and eaten by American mink, an invasive, non-native species.
The voles were very hard to track and film. They spend most their time hiding in grass and watercress, Keith, Richard and I would often spread out until we found one, then once found we’d join up and keep eyes on it from a respectable distance. We all work well together and have been friends for years.
The film was lots of fun to make, especially the challenge of filming a water vole having a poo, a challenge we actually achieved much to our amusement (it was high fives all round that evening). We were also on a mission to film them from underwater, you’ll have to watch to see if we managed that one.
So stayed tuned to Springwatch this year and lookout for some of Thanet’s cutest wildlife. BBC Springwatch is back on BBC2 from Monday 29th May for three weeks of live programmes. Chris and Michaela will be at a new location at RSPB Arne in Dorset, Iolo will be roaming the region and Gillian is in North Wales.