This Halloween I wasn't trick or treating, instead I was at Leighton Moss for Autumnwatch. I had got an invite to go and watch my favourite programme a few weeks before and had been looking forward to going. I had ordered some binoculars for my birthday and was hoping they came so I could take them to Leighton for the day. that morning they had arrived. I had everything ready to go; ruck sack, camera, binoculars and my D of E book.
it took over an hour to get there, after getting lost of course and already after walking through the doors I had seen Chris Packham and Iolo Williams. it didn't feel real seeing these presenters metres away from me. Whilst they where having some food, I met Brett Westwood (Autumnwatch extra presenter). we talked about our birding experiences and what it was like to work there. he introduced me to Nick Baker (a BBC presenter and Autumnwatch Unsprung presenter). I had brought two of my collections along to show to Nick and hoped he could spread some more light on one of them. I had found both of them on my usual beachcombing routes at Cockerham. the first I found a few years ago amongst some seaweed and rocks. at the time I thought it was a Greater Pipefish skeleton, but Nick told me it was either a Pipefish or a young Greater Pipefish. the second was one I found a few months ago amongst the tide line. it was a Goldcrest; the smallest bird in Britain. I had managed to articulate its skeleton and Nick was amazed at it. he even did a photo-shoot of it. after talking for a bit, he had to go for a rehearsal so I went birding in the hides. throughout the day I managed to tick off Goldeneye, Gadwall, Marsh Tit and Shovelor Duck. I also got to see Red Deer and one of Leighton Moss' Otters.
when evening approached we had to have a meeting in the café about what to do when on air and Nick gave a talk about it as well. before the meeting, I got to meet Gary Moore and Richard Taylor Jones, who gave me some really good advice. after putting on high visibility jackets and marching up to some woods where a scout camp was, we all got ushered to our places in the Autumnwatch Unsprung studio and counted down until we went on air. the atmosphere before and after we went live was amazing. I was stood behind the main couch and will never forget the day.
when the main programme went live we all had to creep silently back into the scout hut and got some juice and biscuits. when I thought the day was all over and it couldn't get any better I bumped into Chris Packham, Michaela Strachnan and Martin Hughes Games.
I managed to get all the Autumnwatch signatures and pictures with them, as well as have a truly unforgettable experience.