Hare-raising TV drama for Brockholes

Hare-raising TV drama for Brockholes

(c) Jim Higham

When Countryfile come-a-calling we are delighted but there is also a little bit of panic – after all we only have the whole nation watching us.

The great thing about The Lancashire Wildlife Trust is that when we are in the spotlight our staff, our volunteers, our members and, most importantly, our wildlife shine like superstars.

However, asking wild creatures to perform on a particular day is a potential disaster waiting to happen.

We were asked by The Wildlife Trusts to come up with an idea for Countryfile’s Easter Sunday show. Chicks and fluffy bunnies had all been done before and, to be honest, our Brockholes chicks were not going to be around when filming took place. 

One thing that has delighted staff and volunteers at the nature reserve, just off one of the busiest motorways in the UK, is that brown hares greet them on the car park in the early morning.

Hares on Countryfile

In fact Karen, at the reserve, was describing watching two hares boxing as she was sitting at her desk in the office one morning.So we told Countryfile and they were interested and asked us to provide details and, possibly, some video footage before they came down to recce the site.

So in mid-March I climbed out of bed at 5am and went down to Brockholes to do some hare spotting. From 5.30am to 9am I got nice pictures of roe deer, flying swans and a friendly kestrel but no hares. I also got soaked.

Two weeks later Countryfile’s Gayle and Eleanor arrived to check out our amazing nature reserve. Despite being battered by hailstones (the size of golf balls! Not really), they were completely bedazzled by Brockholes. We only spotted one brown hare, things were not looking good.

A week later at 5am on a Thursday morning, I met Lindsey (Head of Marketing) and Sarah (Brockholes Events Manager) at the reserve. We were joined by volunteers David, Tony, Lindsay and Bill, all keen to act as “brown hare spotters” on the day.

Countryfile Filming at Brockholes

As the Countryfile team arrived – Gayle, Eleanor, Mike, Mick and Steve Brown, former Paralympic rugby star, making his debut as a presented on the show – the vols set off to their positions.

We set off to the area where the hares hare regularly been seen. Then, disaster, two vans were delivering hardcore right on that spot. I had to admire the guys for turning up at 6am, but not today.

So did we see brown hares? Let me just say during the whole day of filming Brockholes opened its arms to welcome a national audience with some wonderful wildlife. The Countryfile team were brilliant and made our involvement easy and not at all nerve-wracking.

Just to keep you on tenterhooks this message came over the walkie talkies just after we set up to film – “There is something coming along the path towards you!!

A hare? You will wait and see what happens on the show on Easter Sunday at 7pm.