Springwatch comes to Sherborne Park

Springwatch presenters Martin Hughes Games, Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham
Published : 04 May 2017 Last update : 09 May 2017

Springwatch is back, and this year it’s based at Sherborne Park in Gloucestershire, a working farm landscape amid the rolling Cotswolds. Now in its 13th year, the hit BBC show will use the estate as its main location for three weeks of live broadcasts.

Sherborne Park was left to the National Trust 30 years ago by Lord Sherborne. The traditional 4,000 acre landscape includes historic parkland, woodland and five tenanted farms.

During the series, Springwatch presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Martin Hughes-Games and Gillian Burke can expect to see otters and species of farmland birds like corn buntings and yellowhammers that are declining elsewhere. There are also ten bat species roosting on the estate, including rare Daubenton’s bats.

The river is one of the important habitats on the Sherborne Park Estate
A river running through fields on the Sherborne Park Estate

Simon Nicholas, Countryside Manager at Sherborne, said: 'We’re delighted to be welcoming Springwatch to Sherborne Park.

'The idyllic estate is like the Cotswolds in miniature – and thanks to the efforts of our rangers, farmers and partners it is home to water voles, red kites and flocks of rare farmland birds. Thousands of families flock to our woods and parklands each year to see the nature on their doorstep.'

This is the first new Springwatch venue in three years, and the first time that the series has been based at one of the special places we care for. The show’s producers were attracted to the estate by its sheer diversity of wildlife, which is supported by the work of our rangers, tenant farmers and local partners.

New-born lambs on the Sherborne Park Estate
Sheep and lambs on the Sherborne Park Estate

As well as rare species, Sherborne Park is also home to several familiar species that can be found all across the UK, such as garden birds. For the first time they will become stars of the show, giving viewers the opportunity to learn more about ‘nature on their doorstep’.

The estate’s recent success stories include a partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to restore the water meadows and gravel beds in the River Windrush, which has seen a boom in the number of water voles. We are committed to creating 25,000 hectares of new nature habitats like this by 2025.

Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning for Natural History and Specialist Factual says:  'I'm thrilled The Watches have found such an extraordinary home for the next twelve months. Sherborne Park is the perfect location to bring the very best of British wildlife to our loyal audience.'

Sherborne's water vole population is booming following habitat conservation work
Water vole

Countryside manager Simon added: 'We’ve been out helping the BBC crews identify the best places to spot wildlife. Some of our rangers have been here on the estate for decades – so we’ve got plenty of experience to draw on.

'Spring is one of the best times to visit Sherborne Park, with the arrival of young chicks and our veteran trees bursting into leaf. We just can’t wait for Springwatch to start.'

Springwatch begins at 8pm, 29 May, on BBC2. Springwatch Unsprung, which will also be set on the Sherborne Park Estate, begins at 6:30pm, 5 June, also on BBC2.