Back in May/June 2007, BBC Springwatch was broadcast from Islay over a period of three weeks, bringing marvellous wildlife film not to mention the island's scenery to the watching millions. There was a marked and very welcome boost in visitor numbers later that summer and the following year(s) as a result.
This year, Islay will feature in the series of weekly Autumnwatch programmes being shown in October and November. The format will have the programme's presenters, Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan, based at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, but each week there will be film (edited rather than live) from different wildlife meccas around the country. Islay should appear in early November (probably Friday 4th), with the wildlife cameramen and recordists on the island the week before. "Targets" include the masses of geese (shouldn't be too difficult!), the assemblages of the great variety of wildfowl and waders that live on the RSPB's Loch Gruinart Reserve and in Loch Indaal, the flocks of linnets and twite that the RSPB feed with birdseed crops at their Oa Reserve and, quite probably, the Merlins that regularly make these finch flocks their feeding stations, and (of course) otters.
Three researchers were on the island last week making contacts and checking out possible locations and wildlife to film. I suggested to them that they might like to include film of our House Sparrows. I had over 70 at my bird table last winter - there can't be many places in England that can achieve that!
Keep an eye on the Autumnwatch website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/uk/. And let's hope for some of the fabulous weather that made Springwatch here such a terrific success - not least in comparison with the rain-soaked presenters (and wildlife) broadcasting at the time from the Devon HQ!