BBC's Springwatch: Harriet's dream come true

NATURE lover Harriet Day saw a dream come true when she was invited to work behind the scenes on the recent BBC series of Springwatch.

And she managed to cause a stir when she observed a sight never seen before by birdwatchers – a female nightjar eating her own chick alive.

Keen bird ringer and photographer Harriet, from Greasbrough, who normally works as a hairdresser, was invited to work on the popular show presented by Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan after a chance meeting in the Cairngorms with TV naturalist Iolo Williams, who also appears on the programme.

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"We got chatting and I said I would love to get involved on the programme,” said Harriet, and sure enough Iolo put in a good word.

After interviews, Harriet was asked to join the team on the recent series after impressing the BBC with her photographic skills and natural history knowledge.

Her work, based at the RSPB Arne nature reserve in Dorset, involved sitting in an outside broadcast vehicle for up to 12 hours a day – beginning at 4am – watching what happened at various birds’ nests and highlighting interesting stories for the presenters.

"There was a lot to cover,” said Harriet.

Among the things she viewed was a large female buzzard chick mercilessly attacking her small male sibling, a greedy cuckoo being fed by meadow pipits, nests being raided by predators, and the shocking act of cannibalism by the nightjar which was behaviour unknown to ornithologists.

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“According to the British Trust for Ornithology me and my colleague Jack could have been the first people to witness a nightjar do that,” said Harriet.

She thinks the nightjar did this because a lack of moonlight meant it could not feed on its more usual moth prey.

Harriet said she hoped to be selected to work on the programme in the future and had high praise for the presenters.

She said: “I had my lunch with Michaela and she is wonderful and Chris kept coming into the outside broadcast vehicle to get updates on what we had seen.

"It was a great experience.”

Springwatch is set to be back on TV screens next year.