Jez Toogood, Ruth Peacey and Luke Massey – the production team
I met Ruth Peacey when she joined Springwatch as a researcher a couple of years ago. She’s great, a real birder, with lists and a local patch and a lifelong interest in wildlife but she’s got a serious side too, a real desire to do some solid conservation work. We discussed the Maltese hunting issue and she decided to come out here to have a look for herself. I remember receiving her texts, revealing insights into the scale of the problem and outlining her determination to raise the profile of this tragedy more widely. To that end she came back to make a radio programme for the BBC Radio 4 in 2012. This is her fourth tour of duty and she’s been managing the project, she knows all the relevant people, all the sites and her media background means she obviously understands what we need to achieve and how to do it.
She’s been driving us all hard, on my first night I had precisely no sleep at all, but that’s fine, it’s a reflection of her determination to do the best she, and we can. In return she’s been doing all of the driving.
I have one tiny, well, tiny-ish problem with Ruth . . . it’s a Waxwing. Or more precisely a Waxwings wing. During one of our Autumnwatch series someone sent a dead Waxwing into the programme. Being a good naturalist she snipped off the wings and dried them. Now I’m all for sharing and there are two wings so I thought that one each was a fair deal but my wing collection still remains short of this species. Maybe it’s about symmetry, if it is I’ll forgive her, because that is very important!
The Cameramen and Editors
It was a cool summer’s evening in Devon when I met Luke Massey. He had arrived with some highly specialist night vision cameras for one of the shoots for the BBC series ‘The Burrowers’. Our plan was to film myself and a load of rabbits on a thermal imaging camera to illustrate how active these animals became after dark. But as is often the case with new technology there were problems and delays. Just as well, it gave us the chance to find some common ground over the hunting issues in Malta. Luke then mailed me some links to some films I hadn’t seen and to one which couldn’t be shown because the hunters had seriously threatened one of the central participants. This increased our desire to do something ourselves.
Luke has always been into wildlife and began taking photos on his sister’s camera a few years ago and soon became more interested in the video facility available on DSLRs. He was hooked and now spends his time filming. His filming work has been featured on BBC programmes including ‘The Great British Year’ which went out last summer as well as having photos published in various leading wildlife and photography magazines. He is a very good birder and passionate about conservation, particularly the hideous situation here in Malta. He too has been before, he came out for six weeks to help run Birdlife Malta’s media office during the autumn hunting season and was sickened by the slaughter. He saw protected species such as Flamingos gunned down before him so leapt at the opportunity to be part of our team. He saw his first Little Bittern today. It was dead, shot. Not his best days birding.
Luke’s work, including a previous stills project from his last visit to Malta can be seen on his website; www.lmasseyimages.com
Jez Toogood works for the BBC in Bristol as a shoot editor in the news room so he has taken leave especially to be out here on the project. And he’s been before, he came out for a week last year to make a film about the issue. It’s posted here, please watch it as it contains interviews and content that we will not be able to get this time around. It’s also a lot more polished than this week’s video blogs which might pain Jez a bit . . . he’s a man who likes things slick and polished!
He is a committed environmentalist who worked for the World Wide Fund for Nature in Bristol and it was here that he met Steve Micklewright who now heads up Birdlife Malta. As neighbours they campaigned to protect some local woodland so when Steve took up position here they discussed means of promoting the problems to a wider and particularly UK audience. His film was shown on BBC West, but he wanted to up the ante and spread the word more even more widely.
Jez has been keeping us all in line technically, keeping an eye on our ‘production values’ and it’s great to have his professionalism on board. He’s been shooting but he’s also been the man in a dark room, meticulously going through and organising all the material we’ve shot so far as he’s editing it all up until Friday when Luke and Ruth will take over to cut the last blog.
As you know this is a self funded project which means we can be entirely independent. We’re all tired, it’s four thirty wake up calls here and we’ve been at it all day and into the night but the mood is good under the circumstances, given that the things we love are being blasted from the sky, and we remain determined to get as much material as possible even if it means going face to face with aggressive hunters . . .