Thurs 19th Dec 2013

I can hardly believe Christmas has arrived already. Where did November go? It’s been such a busy time recently so I’ve got a few things to tell you about.

First I must let you know that I will be in Barnstaple Pannier Market this Sunday and on Christmas Eve next Tuesday. I get to meet lots of visitors to North Devon at this time of year as well as all the locals who stop by my stall to wish me a Happy Christmas. Please come and say hello if you are around. I’m not sure when I’ll be back there next year as I’ve got several big commitments coming up but I’ll let you know.

I had a stand at ‘Dunster by Candlelight’ again this year. I am always grateful to be invited and enjoy it very much. It was very good, as usual, and busier than last year, with the second night being the best. I was in a different position to last year but it worked out ok. Sadly I had a picture stolen, one of my limited edition ‘Birds in the garden’. It was number 6 out of 100 so that number will now be considered void as a limited edition print. Apart from this upset it was a great event and a wonderful atmosphere.

My most exciting news is that I am making a new TV series for ITV. It is 22 years since I last worked with ITV as I’ve been with the BBC for a long time, but it’s lovely to be back with them. This is a big project and has come at just the right time for me as it fits in well with other things I’m working on. It’s going to be hard work but a lot of fun.

We actually started filming a fortnight ago and will be in Porlock on 6th January filming the wassailing which, for those of you who don’t know, is an ancient ceremony to bless the cider orchards to ward off evil and bring a good harvest for the following season. It includes singing to the trees, reciting incantations and a lot of merry-making. So, if you can get to Porlock on that day, do come along.

It’s going to take a year to film the TV series as it will cover each of the seasons and will probably go out as four half hour programmes on a Friday evening, 7.30 pm to 8.00 pm I believe, in May 2015. I’m really pleased as that is a prime time spot.

Some of you may know about a new website I’ve been setting up called ‘Johnny Kingdom’s World’. It’s a membership site where people with an interest in wildlife and how I photograph and film it can connect with me and each other and get lots of inside tips and information. It takes a lot of work to get something like going and with the TV series happening I’ve had to make the decision to suspend the new website for a while as I just can’t give it the time it needs. I’m really sorry to those people who have already joined up and want to say a big thank you to them for the support they have given me so far. Things are in progress to ensure you get a refund. I really hope I can maybe start it again in a year’s time and make it even better than I had originally planned. There are certainly lots of ideas in the pipeline.

The rut is now over but went well into December which is very late and quite unusual. I’ve been concerned to see red deer numbers down this year, especially the males. This is rather a worry as strong males are, of course, vital for breeding and the maintenance and strength of the herd on Exmoor. I know a lot of shooting goes on, most of it legal, but I would ask the people involved to think carefully about which deer they take and not to shoot so many male deer. We all want the red deer to be around on Exmoor in the future so it’s in everyone’s interest if they are managed responsibly.

My safaris are now over for 2013 and went really well. The 2014 dates are on the ‘Safaris’ page of this website and are starting to get booked up already so do have a look if you want a particular date so that you don’t miss it.

My new truck is going well. It is a Shogun and Jack Pyke, who supply my camouflage clothing, have done it out in camouflage colours and it looks great. I think I told you before about the extra seats that are ideal for children. It will be good to be able to show more youngster around Exmoor as they are the next generation who will care for it.

My new DVD is selling well and I’m getting good feedback. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to tell me how much they have enjoyed it. Copies are still available from my ‘Shop’ page or directly from me at the Barnstaple Pannier Market.

Another project I am working on at the moment is to get some live webcams set up to feed into this website. I’m really excited about it as I’ve wanted to do it for a while. I’ll keep you updated on progress.

Finally, people have been asking me why there aren’t many birds feeding in their gardens at the moment. It’s because of the mild weather (in this part of the world at least) and the abundance of natural food around at the moment. I’ve also been asked why there always seem to be lots of chaffinches in certain areas on Exmoor at this time of year, especially along the roads near beech trees. It’s because they are picking up beech nut mash off the roads. The beech nuts fall on the road, the cars and farm vehicles crush them and leave behind a nutritious mash for the birds to feed on.

The photo I've got for you this month is of me in my ghillie suit trying to stay hidden from the wildlife while I do some filming. They are probably looking at me wondering why there is a yeti up the tree!

Well, all that’s left for me to say is have a very Happy Christmas. I look forward to catching up with you all in 2014.