Johnny Kingdom spends a year following some of the bird species he finds near his home and on his land. Autumn sees him preparing to film the great spotted woodpecker and the wren.
Browse content similar to Episode 1. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
I hope you can see me all right.
Anyway, Sunday afternoon.
This is sunflower seeds, OK?
Lovely seeds. Birds just love them.
Had my hair cut off yesterday.
Trying to make me look a wee bit younger.
OK, darling. I'm taking you up to your mum, OK?
He's so small. Look at that.
I'm Johnny Kingdom, and I've done all sorts through my life.
I've been a gravedigger for over 50 years.
But I love filming wildlife.
And I think the hardest thing to film is the birds.
Can't see me now, can you?
Away you go.
So now I've set myself a challenge.
This year, I'm going to film the birds right through the seasons.
Here I am, waiting for a woodpecker to go to roost - the shots I've never got before.
I'm going to try new ways of filming them
and I want to get closer than I've ever got before. Up...
I don't understand what's going on here.
That's a wonderful sight to see, something I've never witnessed before in all my life.
Lot of people my age is home beside the fire - not me.
I want to keep going as long as I can.
Ha, ha, ha! I love it.
In 2006, me and my wife, Julie, bought some land.
52 acres right on the edge of Exmoor in south-west England.
This is where I do most of my filming.
Birds seem so important to me.
Do you know, there's a saying, "Get up in the morning,
"listen to the birds and it'll start your day off right."
But you've got to look after the birds as well.
And you never stop learning.
Gooey mess! This is something you've got to do -
clean them out so the birds got a new start.
Just throw it away.
Next one, please!
This year, I'm going to try to do something very, very different.
For instance, I film lots and lots of woodpeckers but never filmed
where they sleep in the wintertime - their roosting place.
I'd love to do that.
There you are, birdies.
There's something else I'd like to film in the winter - the wrens.
Last year, I had them coming into this Wendy box.
I'm hoping they'll do it again this year.
Course, if that do happen, I've already got a camera in there so I can film them.
In fact, I've cameras in different boxes all around our land.
And I built a cabin, and I got a control box inside
which I can sit down and press and see on a screen
and watch the birds in the nests.
Wow! That's fantastic, that.
A bit flickery.
The signal is wrong. Whether I'm in the way of it...
Ah, there you are, it's me.
I was in the way. That's it.
He spends hours up there.
He's always looking for something different to do.
My wife been here messing around again.
This is what happens.
I didn't think he had it in him to work all that out.
The yellow light you see, that's telling me they're all live.
It'll record if anything goes in the box. I'm learning quite well really.
I'm quite pleased with it.
Just can't wait to get all the birds in the boxes.
'He's always had the love of birds, even when he was a boy.
'And he's had an eye'
for feathered birds as well as lady birds!
It's really, really cold now.
Very, very cold.
Well, well, well.
I just looked down there and see the pond, frozen right over with ice.
I think we're in for a cold winter, mate.
What about global warming?
-Well, well, well.
It looks pretty, but it can be a nuisance, especially for our birds.
Winter is the hardest time for them.
And what they want is a bit of help by putting out some food.
This is meatballs.
These are very, very good, a lot of protein in this.
A lot of protein. Blue tits like that.
And this is very important for my friend the robin, mealworms.
Bit expensive, but you don't figure that when you're feeding the birds.
Just get it and think about the money afterwards!
All the finches, chaffinch, they like this.
I've been told that the goldfinches are dying because of the cold weather, which is very, very sad.
So try and feed the birds. It's very, very important.
The woodpecker likes this one. I'm trying to get that shot of a woodpecker pushing on there.
I shall be in there, trying to film it from inside the hide.
If he pitches there, it'll be ideal.
Right. Hello, mate!
Come and see Johnny. The robin, look.
Come on, then.
It's funny about robins - do you know, every time I come here, he comes.
If I go down the bottom, he's down there.
When I was gravedigging, there was always robins around the graveyard.
It's very strange. I do like the robin.
This hide, to be honest with you, I have a big story behind it.
My son, Stuart,
he'd altered his bungalow and they took all the roof off
and all the woodwork came here.
And that was the shell of it and all the roof on the top.
And then I had to get something to go inside.
My wife decided she wanted a new carpet.
The carpet on the roof is our old carpet. Then she wanted a new floor.
So this is all the flooring, look. Do you think I laid it very good?!
Bit ridgy, like, but it serves a purpose for ME.
People think there aren't many birds around in the winter, but there are.
They're just harder to see.
Right, let's see what sort of birds we get.
If I can get a close shot of the woodpecker, I'll be happy.
# I don't care for walking downtown
# Crazy auto car gonna mow me down
# Look at all the people Like cows in a herd
# Well, I like...birds. #
Look at that, hey? A wonderful shot of the female blackbird.
# If you're small and on the search
# I've got a feeder For you to perch on... #
This is the pied wagtail.
He won't stay still long enough.
I like the wagtail.
I like all the birds.
I've got a goldfinch come now.
That's my friend.
Looks like he's been in a fight, got some marks on his face.
Not the best of robins to look at.
These birds, they fight for territory.
The cock chaffinch, another nice bird.
This time of year, the plumage is not very bright.
Wait for the breeding season, and that gets really orangey.
That's our starlings.
It's the first lot of starlings I've seen on our land.
How about that, then?
There's a woodpecker.
That's the male great spotted woodpecker.
See the red disc on the back of his head?
This is the female great spotted woodpecker.
Sometimes you hear, "Brrrr, brrrr, brrrr"
but never see it.
That's when he's drilling his hole for nesting season.
Sometimes it's, "Tad-a-tat-tat, tad-a-tat-tat".
That means he's calling a friend to mate,
a partner, if you want to call it that way.
Course, the shot I really want to get is their roosting place.
That will be very difficult to get.
The woodpecker roosts in a hole that they have already nested in earlier in the year.
The thing is, there's lots of holes all over our woodland.
In the next few weeks, I'm going to try to find out which tree it is.
We haven't seen snow like this for a long, long time.
Just look at that.
I gotta get over there.
I got over there all right.
My village is about four-and-a-half miles from our land.
And that's where I'm going now, because there's a bird coming in
to our front garden, and he won't be there very long.
By gum, we had some snow.
I'm standing in my doorway.
I've got to keep very quiet.
there in the blizzard.
There he is. See?
You don't see mistle thrushes around the houses
on Exmoor like this. It's very rare.
They're very shy birds, I'm telling you that now.
I bet he's saying, "I can see you, Johnny.
"You can't fool me.
"I know you're in the doorway."
He's after the rowan berries.
This is what they like in the wintertime.
He's seen me.
Unless somebody else is passing.
There you are. There's my wife, Julie, coming up from the shop.
John's filming this mistle thrush.
But he's taking quite a few days to do it.
He's not happy with the shots he's getting.
He's cussing at everybody that's passing - even Darryl, our neighbour across the road.
He came out the other day, and he said, "What are you doing out?"
Darryl said, "I'm outside my own front door!"
He said, "Get back in."
I see there are two more people down the bottom.
That's why the mistle thrush won't come back.
Well, let's wait a bit longer and then in for a cup of tea.
Everybody's disturbing him. He thinks he should be the only one out there.
But he'll get it. He'll keep trying, I'm sure.
There he is, in behind that lot.
He's gone. Bill's coming now.
You can see Bill down the bottom.
The trouble is, see, people keep walking around.
-How are you?
-I'm filming the mistle thrush.
You just frightened it away.
Oh, I'm very sorry!
-That's all right, my friend. That's OK.
-I didn't see him there.
-It's a bit winterish, in't it?
-Ain't too bad.
He won't mind me filming him. He's a nice guy.
There he is. He's back.
And this is the cock bird, because I've heard him sing.
I understand the female mistle thrush don't sing.
I can't stay here. I'm getting so flipping cold.
It's freezing, man.
I can't make it, I don't think.
Yes, I can. No problem.
Back to the land.
The ground is really sparkling over there.
It looks beautiful.
Look at that.
I am hoping to film the wrens this evening.
But I have a bit of a problem to sort out first.
These are some of the cameras I have set up all the way round here.
But this one is where I have the problem, look.
That is where the wrens are coming in. They come in this hole.
But the problem is, I think this is due to the snow and cold weather.
So, I have to go out and actually get that camera out and see if I can fix the problem.
Oh, yes. I see.
The white spot there, look, is the problem.
The only way I can do this is take it indoors and get it warm and bring it out again.
And this evening, we may see a jenny wren.
Wrens are very, very tiny and suffer a lot through the cold winter.
But this cosy little box keeps them very, very warm.
OK. More or less dry. Look at that. Wonderful.
Yes. That's OK.
A lot better than it was before.
Still a bit creamy here, but you're not going to get these 100%.
What we will do is wait, sit and wait for the jenny wrens to come.
Everything is shutting down now.
I can hear them calling. They don't like it.
When they start chirping like that, they sense there is somebody around. I am telling you, I know.
Come on, jenny wrens,
where are you?
There he is. The first sighting.
There he is, look. Beautiful little birdie.
Look, he is looking around.
He is saying to himself, "Somebody moved my house today."
Uh-oh! Don't like it. He don't like that.
He said, "Somebody moved the bed in a bit." That's me.
Because I done the camera.
There he is again. There you are.
OK, mate, now he is in. Look at that. Lovely. Out again.
He is not happy.
I expect he is calling his mates, "Come on, everything is clear."
Could be saying that. Who knows?
A lot of people think that the wren is the smallest bird. He is not.
It is the goldcrest.
The wren you will find is 3.75 inches long.
That's beak to the end of his tail. The goldcrest is 3.5 inches long.
-What is that?
-He is behind the cloth. I have just seen him.
-It's behind the screen.
He is looking in there, see?
There he is. OK.
A blue tit. Is it?
A blue tit, looking in.
Surely that's not a wren?
That was a blue tit.
What is he doing there?
That was definitely a blue tit, my friend.
That may be the problem.
Somebody else is trying to take over the house.
By this time, they should be all in there, snuggled together
to keep themselves warm.
That is what I can't understand. Why is it just that one popping there?
I can't make it out.
I can't understand why the wrens are not coming in because last winter, it was completely different.
Let me show you what happened last year.
I will use this little torch,
not very strong, so I won't disturb them.
Tie it on top of the camera and leave the camera outside whilst I am inside the cabin.
Hopefully, show you the wrens
actually going in to that little Wendy box.
The camera just changed now to infra-red.
That means everything is shutting down.
Come on, wren. I will keep still now.
That is number one wren.
Two wrens, we've got two wrens.
Another one on his way, number three.
Well, we've got four.
There is five.
Is there going to be six tonight?
There he comes. Another one. We've got seven.
Oh, my God, it's a record.
There is eight, look.
I don't believe it.
Oh, there is another one. There is nine.
And there is another one, I saw him fly.
-I don't believe it!
This is number ten. 11.
There is fighting going on now.
The nesting box is nearly full.
There's another one.
Am I seeing things? This is 12.
12 wrens coming in the house!
There is another one coming, I saw him on my left-hand side.
Don't say 13.
Oh, there is, there's 13!
There's 14 wrens come in.
15... 16 wrens. Oh, my eye, where are they coming from?
There's another one coming, I saw him.
17 wrens. 18 wrens.
18 jenny wrens.
You know, I don't believe this is happening.
To see that, that was incredible.
But I don't think it is going to happen this year.
Because this winter seems to be carrying on and on and on.
It is really cold, it is snowing.
And I don't think we are going to see the wrens.
I think they've been killed off.
I'm going to get out of here.
This is my problem, the snow.
If I clear back here and if I can reverse back on the grass...
Sorry, it's on the camera lens! I didn't mean to go there.
I wanted it up there. Sorry, Rupert! No, it's on the lens, Rupe.
Go on, boy! Yeah!
The weather is better this morning.
Let me show you what this mistle thrush is up to.
Very strange. I have seen wagtails do this.
But never a mistle thrush.
He got confused, because he sees himself in the window and my mirror.
He thinks there is another bird there.
He may think that's his missus, you know.
Next month, he will find a partner.
Because that's when they start to build, late February.
Build a rough nest, like a blackbird.
That is my stomach growling if you want to know -
I've come out without any breakfast.
The cat is coming near, that's why the bird is watching.
The cat is rubbing his leg against my legs, if you would believe it.
The bird is staying dead still.
Where has the cat gone?
He was here.
Where is the cat? There is the cat.
Go in. Go on!
Get in, cat!
Trying to catch that bird, isn't he?
Right, I got rid of my cat.
The bird is still there, would you believe it? Making all that noise.
He is not so shy now.
He is watching the tree because, on the tree on the left-hand side, there's a sparrow.
Right there, look. A sparrow.
That's what he is doing, chasing the birds away.
He don't want them near the berries.
Look at the markings on that bird.
Cracking, isn't it?
Someone touched my leg. What is that?
That's that flipping pussycat.
Right. I need to think about my woodpecker now.
We found something on the land I want to show you.
My son, Craig, was down here yesterday with Billy.
They saw a woodpecker come here.
He went to go in that hole.
I think that's a roosting site but it could be a nesting site.
I'll point the stick out where the hole is.
Up there, look.
Just look how clean that hole is, how he drilled that hole.
So neat and tidy.
I want the weather to warm up a wee bit so I can come back to my hide and get that shot.
I was going down to film the woodpecker and came across this, a lovely roe deer.
It is a beautiful animal, look at that.
Looking straight at me.
Wow. Look at that, hey?
Sniffing the air, look.
Oh, look. I think that's two of last year's calves.
I can't move, otherwise I won't get my woodpeckers.
OK. This is when I have to be quiet now.
I've got inside the hide.
Here I am, waiting for a woodpecker to go to roost.
Shots I never got before.
I want a good shot.
Just look at that lovely fungi on the side.
If he wants to pitch on the side, before he went in, I could get a nice shot.
He could flip in with no warning.
Of course, I love doing these sort of things.
But my feet ain't half cold, I tell you, beside this river.
It is a flipping aeroplane going over the top now.
He should be here by now.
If he is coming.
Of course, he may not come, might he?
This is what wildlife is all about...patience.
My feet, I always suffer with cold feet. It is terrible.
Come on, birdie, where are you?
That's it. That's it.
He's gone into the hole.
That was a female woodpecker.
Hopefully, that female woodpecker will get a mate and come there and nest.
By June, there could be some babies looking out of that hole.
If that happened, I would be over the moon.
I told you, didn't I, I would get that shot? That was brilliant, mate.
At last, spring has arrived and everything happens
this time of the year.
Look at that. It is five little goslings with Mum.
This is wonderful, I found a great spotted woodpecker's nest.
In he goes.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
The wild man of the moors is back. Johnny Kingdom, gravedigger-turned-amateur filmmaker spends a year recording the bird life in and around his home on his beloved Exmoor.
Johnny has spent three years creating a wildlife habitat on his 52-acre patch of land on the edge of Exmoor. He's been busy nailing nest boxes on tree trunks, planting a wildflower meadow, dredging his pond, putting up remote cameras and wiring them up to a viewing station in his cabin on the land - all the time hoping against hope that not only will he attract new wildlife but also that he will be able to film it.
This year he is turning his attention to the bird life, hoping to follow some of the species he finds near his home and on his land, across the seasons. We see the transitions from the lovely autumn mists of the oak wood, through the sparkling snow-clad landscape of a north Devon winter, into spring's woodland carpet of bluebells and finally the golden glow of early summer. The bulk of the series is from Johnny's own camera. Don't expect the Natural History Unit - instead expect passion, enthusiasm, humour and an exuberant love of the landscape and its wildlife.
The series begins at the end of autumn, with Johnny clearing out bird boxes and sorting out his new remote cameras in preparation for the winter. There are two birds in particular that he wants to film - the great spotted woodpecker and the wren. But the harsh winter looks as if it could spell trouble for the wrens and it will be spring before Johnny knows how well they have fared.
He has better luck with the woodpecker and eventually finds their roost. Meanwhile, at home, he struggles to get shots of a mistle thrush as his wife Julie and his neighbours disturb this shy bird as it feasts on a rowan tree.