Exciting news! This Sunday, the Hanson-RSPB Wetland Project featured on BBC Countryfile. Whether you saw it or not, here is a behind the scenes blog post and photos about the day that Countryfile visited Ouse Fen.

It was an early start on Friday 26 January and I got to Hanson UK’s offices at Needingworth Quarry at 07.20. After a quick chat with Hilton Law, the quarry’s Site Manager, I met up with RSPB Project Manager Matt York and Vanessa Amaral-Rogers from the press team at RSPB HQ. The BBC arrived shortly afterwards and presenter Matt Baker was shown into the quarry control room. Once this happened, we all got ourselves layered up ready for a day of filming out on site.

Our first stop was the quarry’s ‘Reject Graveyard’, which is where surplus material from the quarrying process is stored. The first piece to camera showed Matt Baker interviewing Hilton Law about the archaeology of the site. It was fascinating to hear how many fossils are found here on a regular basis. Remains of several species of birds have also been found over the years, including many reedbed species and even Dalmatian pelicans.

Director Ruth Davies arranging her shots:

Hilton and Matt in discussion on camera:

Whilst the filming was taking place, a digger driver was waiting patiently to continue manoeuvring the material. The digger was then put to work to demonstrate the process in the Rejects Graveyard.

The digger at work with Hilton and Matt filming a piece to camera in the background:

The next stop was the so called ‘moonscape’, this gigantic hole in the ground is where Hanson are currently quarrying:

If you are wondering what the big lumps are, they are made of clay which is a waste product from the process. The clay will eventually be used to line the reserve pools when they are dug out.

The Director and film crew seemed to be enjoying the experience as much as we were!:

 Matt Baker then did a piece to camera that featured one of Hanson’s “big boy’s toys”:

 After a short piece to camera about the quarry conveyor belt, it was off to part if the project that has already been handed over to the RSPB and which is being managed as part of the ever growing RSPB Ouse Fen Nature Reserve. Our filming location was Cell 3, or ‘Lock Keepers Mere’, which was looking lovely on the day:

 

Filming recommenced with Matt Baker interviewing Matt York about the project:

Importantly, lunch was served from the back of a 4x4!:

It was then time to get on (and in!) the water. The next shots involved Matt Baker and reserve Warden Hannah Bernie getting in the water to sink some willow bundles which were to be sunk in order to provide more habitat and refuges for the fish population. Although I didn’t manage to get out on the boat to see the filming, here are a couple of pictures of beforehand:

The boats, cameras and sandbags ready to go:

 Hannah gets her microphone fitted (under her hat!) and discusses the site with Matt:

 

The crew set off:

Several journeys were needed:

 To be followed by RSPB Ouse Valley Senior Sites Manager Chris Hudson (on the left) with the fish that are being released to enhance the native fish population on this recently created habitat:

After the filming was complete, everyone was ferried back to base (in a couple of trips mind!):

While all of this was going on, co-presenter Ellie Harrison had arrived ready to film the final scenes. Here are Hannah and Matt returning to base with Ellie looking on:

Before filming the final sequences:

Having finished his filming duties and piece to camera, Chris went back out with Ouse Fen volunteers John Leech, Sue Jarrett  (in the boat with Chris) and Assistant Warden Richard Taylor (on the shore) to continue the fish release process:

In the meantime, it was time to film the farewell and here is one more picture of cold looking Matt and Ellie during the final scene:

Image credits: David White and the Ouse Fen Project Team

So there you have it: a behind the scenes look. We had so much fun on the day, and being involved was a great experience. If you didn’t manage to see the programme, it can be found on BBC iPlayer by following this link. We hope you enjoy the show!

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