Mon 31st Oct 2011

Something happened this week that made me really sad. I found a cormorant eating the fish on our land. We’ve all sorts of fish in our pond – roach, rudd and lots of smaller fish that the kingfishers like. The kingfishers have left now to fly to the estuary for winter and I’m worried there won’t be much left for them when they come back. Cormorants are known to have a big appetite. You’d never imagine they’d come so far inland to feed but tis easy pickings I guess.

Anyway, when I saw him I rushed down to chase him away and do you know, before he flied off he coughed up a big fish. Must have just swallowed it whole and was getting rid of it so he could take off. I called him a few names and told him to stay on the coast where he belongs.

His place was soon taken by a heron. These beautiful birds are regular visitors and also take a fair few of our fish. I know that they, like the cormorant, need to feed, and I don’t begrudge them a fish or two, just so long as they don’t take the lot.

It’s been a real week for the birds as I’ve another bird story to tell you. Funny coincidence as I discovered by chance that the BBC are reshowing my ‘Year with the Birds’ series on BBC4, Wednesdays at 7.30 pm. Julie went over the road to see her friend Linda last Wednesday and there I was on the telly.

Well, back to my story. You may have seen my film of the wrens, 18 of them all huddled up in a nesting box on the side of my cabin. On the same building I also have an owl box which had a camera in. When I took the camera out it left a golf ball sized hole and the wrens have found their way through this hole into the cabin. I went in there the other day and wondered what was happening, startled birds flying this way and that. I left the door open for a while so they could get out safely. You should see the state of the place, everything covered in ….. Well I’m sure you can imagine.

I’ve also got lots to tell you about the red deer rut but that will have to wait until next week now. I hope you’re able to get out and about and see some wildlife between now and then. There’s so much going on at this time of year as animals and birds prepare for the harsh days of winter up ahead. With a little patience you’ll see some wonderful sights.


Mon 24th Oct 2011

Autumnwatch banners
It’s been a very busy week. With the rut in full swing I’m trying to get out on Exmoor filming the red deer as much as possible. There are some big stags about. I love to hear them roar and am getting great shots.

Before I forget, I must say a big thank you to everyone who’s posted photos on the ‘Me and Johnny’ page. It’s lovely to see them and they bring back some great memories. I hope to see lots more soon.

Friday was a big day for me as I was live on the BBC Autumnwatch programme. You may even have seen me. We made the film they showed in that beautiful weather at the end of September. I was really pleased with the way it turned out.



The BBC cameraman was the same one who filmed some of our early BBC series years ago. A lovely chap called Richard. He used to stay with Julie and me. It was good to see him again.

The live show was pretty nerve wracking but the whole Autumnwatch crew and presenters were very professional and a lovely, friendly group of people. I did a rehearsal in the afternoon with Chris, Martin and Michaela so I’d know what we were going to be talking about. In the end I really enjoyed it. I think it all went ok. I’ll get some photos up in the next few days.

Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire is a wonderful place. Do go if you can, especially whilst the Autumn colours are at their best. There were lots of visitors there on Friday. I did enjoy meeting some of you and look forward to seeing your photos on the website. Must dash now as I want to get out with the video camera and film those roaring stags. Catch you again soon.


Mon 17th Oct 2011

Well the day has finally arrived when we are ready to go live with the new website. I hope you like it. There are lots of new features including this blog. People often ask me what I’m up to or what is happening on Exmoor at a particular time of year and a blog seems a good way to let you know. Bear with me as I get into the swing of it but I’ll soon be bringing you regular updates and articles on topics I think will interest you.

Facebook is the next venture and Twitter after that, but one thing at a time I say. (I know my name has been on Facebook for a while but it’s not me. Hopefully that will be sorted soon.) Anyway, watch this space.

As we launch the new website I’d like to give my thanks to Claire, Tom, Tab, Chris and the rest of the team at Kameleon Digital in Barnstaple for all their hard work in building the site. They’ve done an excellent job and been a huge support in helping us add the content.

Life is pretty hectic at the moment. October is the time of the red deer rut on Exmoor so I am busy filming and also taking out extra safaris. I'm also preparing to appear live on the BBC's Autumnwatch this Friday 21st October. More on all of these in my next few posts.