Meeting a Legend – Sir David Attenborough!

I am sitting on a wooden bench over looking the grassy field and pools of Cranwich. The wind roars through the leaves of the trees and the reeds at the edge of the pools, the sound rising and falling in intensity like a crowd at a football match cheering when their favourite player gets the ball. Overhead, against a sky various shades of grey, swifts swoop and dive. Despite the unsettled weather there is an air of excitement about the site as we wait for a very special guest to arrive.

Ask anyone who they most admire in the world of Natural History and documentaries, and there is just one name on their lips. Sir David Attenborough. For over 60 years he has been the face and voice of British natural history programmes, giving us some of the most memorable television moments. For me the moment a blue whale surfaced right next to Sir David as he sat in a small boat is one of the most inspiring pieces of footage. The look on his face and the excitement in his voice, mirrors what I feel when I get up close to those magnificent creatures (

So for him to come to our little patch of reeds in the middle of the Norfolk countryside to do some filming is a dream come true. It was not only the chance to meet him, it was the opportunity to watch him work.

Having a chat about reed warblers, cuckoos and all sorts (Photo Kate Risely)

The filming for the series Natural Curiosities focused reed warblers and cuckoos, discussing the evoluntionary ‘arms race’ between the reed warbler host and the cuckoo parasite. From mimicking the egg to mimicking the sound of a whole brood of chicks, the cuckoo aims to trick the reed warbler into raising its offspring for it. The reed warbler responds by guarding the nest mobbing any cuckoo if it gets too close.

As the morning progressed we watched as David and the team worked, being on hand to offer any advice or help that was required. It was privilege to watch him work, to hear that voice offer explanations for one of natures most curious relationships.

Sir David at work

And I now have my own most memorable David Attenborough moment, beyond meeting him…

During one break as we all sat in the long grass keeping out of the reflection in the window of the small hut in front of which they were filming, sitting on the bench where just hours before we had waited in anticipation, David looked at us and said ‘you remind me of a pride of lions watching me’

oh to be compared to a pride of lions by the man himself….

Happy Team! (Photo Kate Risely)


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