Behind the scenes at BBC Springwatch 2021 in Norfolk
- Credit: Danielle Booden
In the back of an outside broadcast truck, in a cathedral-sized barn, the bank of screens flickers.
A kestrel sits on her nest, a swallow tends to her brood and when a blue tit stretches her legs and primps her feathers, you catch a glimpse of her newly-hatched chicks.
BBC Springwatch is getting set to bring the wonders of nature from the Norfolk countryside to our living rooms and laptops from Tuesday evening.
Presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan will be broadcasting from Wild Ken Hill, where thousands of acres of farmland, woodland, heath and wetland are being given back to nature.
The estate, which stretches from The Wash north of Snettisham as far inland as Sedgeford, is pioneering an approach where rewilding and reintroducing beavers and native breeds of cattle works alongside regenerative agriculture to restore the landscape.
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"I know this part of Norfolk relatively well because I've been coming to the coast since the '80s," said Mr Packham. "I've seen tremendous changes in that time, both positive and negative.
"I'm inspired by the fact people are making changes, are embracing change.
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"So in a way I see the endeavours here at Ken Hill Farm as being quite brave, they've given over a portion of their land to rewilding, rewilding has unfortunately become controversial in some circles but they're not rising to that, they're saying this is what we're going to do, we're going to get on with it."
He added: "What I hope in the long term is that this farm prospers and other farmers come to see that prosperity and then some of those ideas filter out into the wider landscape because you don't have to go too far from Ken Hill Farm to find farms which are old school and that's where the critical declines are continuing to take place - so I think hats off to the people here for having the bravery to take those steps."
Birds of prey prowl the skies, hares crouch in their forms with leverets spread around them and the woods ring with birdsong. Beavers toil by night to manage the woodlands, while rare bats feast on abundant insect life and barn owls stalk the fields.
"It's incredibly inspiring," said Ms Strachan. "I've interviewed Lloyd, the naturalist here and he said, they don't always get it right but they're trying different things, they're experimenting , they're learning along the way and they're just doing their best to make a difference.
"Just walking around the couple of days that we've been here you really do see an awful lot of wildlife. You've got these hedges, you've got the bits that are left for wildlife, the margins, and it makes such a huge difference."
She added she had been thrilled to see hares and marsh harriers but seeing the beavers, which live in a wooded enclosure on the estate, were at the top of her wish-list.
Dominic Buscall, project manager at Wild Ken Hill, said: "Its an opportunity to take our approach to a prime time audience. It includes rewilding, it's also about regenerative farming. And it's also about showing a bigger audience there is hope for nature to recover."
Technicians have spent weeks setting up more than 30 remote cameras. Fibre optic cables stretch out to the chalk downs, into the woods and off to the wetlands. Footage from the barn is beamed straight to the BBC's wildlife unit in Bristol to be edited.
Millions will be tuning in to the BBCs flagship nature programme when it begins its 2021 run. Chris said nature had offered "respite and solace" to many through the pandemic. But while watching on TV or online offered "almost the same peak of intensity", a wet, late spring meant it was impossible to predict what they might see.
"It will be unique and something special will come out of it but don't ask me what that will be," he said.
Springwatch begins on BBC on Tuesday (8pm) and will be broadcasting live from Tuesday - Friday for three weeks.
Chris and Michaela will be hosting the Norfolk part of the show, while Iolo Williams will be presenting form the Highlands of Scotland and Gillian Burke from Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.
Wild Ken HIll is the show's second foray into Norfolk. From 2008 - 2010, the team broadcast from Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham.