Posts Tagged ‘BBC Autumnwatch Live’

The final week for Autumnwatch at Westonbirt, by Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager

Friday, October 28th, 2011

The last four weeks have flown by and the final BBC Autumnwatch Live show will be broadcast from Westonbirt Arboretum this Friday, 28th October.

As the focus for this week’s show is woodlands, Westonbirt Arboretum will have a chance to explore different aspects of the tree collection in more detail.

Following on from filming the visual tree health inspections last week, Mark and Dan from Westonbirt’s tree team ventured out with the Autumnwatch crew to film the second half of the story – the use of technology in tree inspections.

Accompanying Mark and Dan were the team from Tree Surveys with the picus sonic tomography used to accompany visual inspections with a picture of the decay.

The picus sonic tomograph is a non-invasive tool for assessing decay in trees. It works on the principle that sound waves passing through decay move more slowly than sound waves traversing solid wood. By sending sound waves from a number of points around a tree stem to a number of receiving points, the relative speed of the sound can be calculated and an image of the cross-section of the tree can be generated.

Ganaderma species fungal fruiting body    Tree Surveys using the picus sonic tomograph    The picus sonic tomograph scan

Chris Packham spent the morning with the team as they set up the tomography, scanned the tree and made the decision on whether to fell or manage the tree in the collection.

Felling a tree is not a decision taken lightly as often the tree is very old and can be an original Holford planting. However, sometimes for health and safety reasons it is necessary. The felled tree will not go to waste however – almost all the wood material is reused, either around the arboretum as woodchip or sold through the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum wood sales.

Around the site other activity has been underway, including some night filming of owls, the conclusion of several weeks of lapsed time filming and a look at autumn colour. We are looking forward to seeing the final show and will be sad to see the Autumnwatch team leave (they can come back any time!).

You can help to support the work undertaken by the tree team at Westonbirt Arboretum by sending a gift via Just Text Giving to the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.
Text a gift of up to £10 by sending the Just Text Giving Code TREE33 followed by the amount you want to donate to 70070. Find out more by watching this film on Westonbirt Arboretum’s YouTube Channel.

Useful links:
The Forestry Commission’s tree pests and diseases website
Enter our Inspired by Autumn at Westonbirt photography competition
Directions to Westonbirt Arboretum (our postcode is GL8 8QS)
Find out more about BBC Autumnwatch Live.

Looking at trees with Autumnwatch – from above and below! By Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager

Friday, October 21st, 2011

With two great BBC Autumnwatch Live shows completed from the Great Oak Hall at Westonbirt Arboretum, and the Autumnwatch team onsite to get ready for another packed programme tonight, attention here is turning towards week 4 (28th October) when the focus will be on the Cotswolds and will look at the arboretum in more detail.

This week, Mark and Dan from our tree team have been filming with Autumnwatch for next week’s show. They’ve been looking at tree health at the work undertaken by the Forestry Commission at Westonbirt Arboretum to manage tree pests and disease.

Mark and Dan visited a few trees on their target list with the crew to talk them through the stages of disease in the specimen and discuss their next course of action. In some cases trees have to be felled and in others they can continue to be managed in the collection for several years.

Investigating a Beech tree   Investigating a Douglas fir   Mark and Dan tree health filming

Mark and Dan will show how they test the trees and use technology to investigate the depths and progression of fungus and disease. They even hope to show how, if nothing can be done to save the tree, it is felled and used for many other purposes. Filming will continue next week, so tune in on 28th October for the final piece.

This week, early visitors to the arboretum on Thursday will also have seen a hot air balloon above the Old Arboretum. This balloon did in fact contain Martin Hughes-Games, looking at autumn colour and the trees of the arboretum from above!

Ready for take off!   Hot air balloon flight   Flying over the Old Arboretum

To find the latest autumn colour hotspots for your visit, don’t forget to read our autumn colour watch blog.

A busy time for the Membership Team, by Bev Starkings, Membership Co-ordinator

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

The Membership Team (Bev and Kelly) would like to thank all those who have commented on our inclusion in the last Westonbirt Magazine. Our brief moment of recognition! Quite a few members were surprised that there are only two of us, which we like to think is a compliment. It went some way to explaining why we can’t answer every phone call at our busiest times, therefore if you have any queries it is much better to email us as our Voicemail gets full very quickly!


We will be stretched to the full over the next few months with around 2,000 memberships to process, so please bear with us if takes a little longer than usual to reply. We are amazed at the growing number of people giving memberships as a Christmas gift for their friends and loved ones. What a wonderful gift! You can apply for a Christmas membership at anytime, just tick the box and we will post out all memberships at the beginning of December. At least they’re easy to wrap! Please note that our deadline for receiving Christmas applications is 14th December. This gives us just enough time to process and send out before we collapse with exhaustion!

PS. Love having BBC Autumnwatch here!

What a week for Westonbirt! By Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager.

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

What a great week for The National Arboretum. We have finally been able to tell everyone that we will host BBC Autumnwatch Live for the whole of October!

Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games.

Autumnwatch's presenters: Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games.

In previous years Autumnwatch has broadcast its BBC Two Friday evening programmes from the Natural History Unit in Bristol, but this year it has chosen two new homes – Westonbirt, The National Arboretum for October and WWT Slimbridge for November.

From Friday 7 October at 8.30pm on BBC Two, once a week for eight weeks, Autumnwatch will be tracking the very best autumn wildlife action from around the UK. For their time at Westonbirt, the team will work with the Forestry Commission staff, volunteers and the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum charity to find great stories for viewers to follow.

This week Westonbirt hosted the Autumnwatch press photography shoot and a few media interviews. The presenters, Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games posed for the press photos in Silk Wood and spoke to journalists sitting on hay bales in the Silk Wood Barn!

Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games having their press photos taken.

The presenters have their press photos taken.

Michaela talks about her excitement at joining the Autumnwatch team.

Michaela talks about her excitement at joining the Autumnwatch team.

We’ve also been working with one of the cameramen in the Autumnwatch crew to find locations to set up lapsed time filming. Several locations around the arboretum will play a part in this. Positions are being chosen to chart the autumn colour chance and capture leaves falling, sunsets and sunrises. At intervals over the next few weeks a camera will film 15 minutes in each position, these different moments captured in time will then be edited together to show the autumnal changes taking place.

Finally we’ve spent time with the production crew finalising locations for the main programme and for Autumnwatch Unsprung. We are also hoping to bring in Powerline, the team who illuminate our trees for the Enchanted Christmas illuminated trail to light up the trees around the studio and outdoor broadcast locations for the evening programmes.

The excitement will continue next week, and we’ll keep you posted!

Find out more about BBC Autumnwatch Live on the website. Find out more about autumn at Westonbirt at