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Not quite a sting in the tail!

October 7, 2008

It was cold and wet, the ground was soaking wet from days of rain – and the pressure was on!  A film crew from the BBC natural history unit wanted to film Adders, and I had offered to help them in their quest!   Adders?  Adders?  I hear you say “How can a post about Adders have a title about stings?”  Read on, and all will become clear…

What is it?

What is it?






It had all started on monday when I responded to a message left on our answer machine.  Do we have any Adders on the heath, and could a crew come down for a look around?  No problem I said, the forecast is not too bad for thursday – pop down then and we’ll see what we can find.  The Producer had other ideas though and was adamant that they would be down the next day.  Sure enough, at 10am they turned up at the Dorset Wildlife Trust Urban Wildlife Centre – whilst the rain was pouring down outside and the wind was howling around, not the best weather for Adders! 

Common sense prevailed, when the team noticed our warning note about the hornets in the roof – and make a snap decision that the Adders could wait. Hornets were just as exciting to film! Now the penny should have dropped about the title, and the picture should make a bit sense as well!  Back to the story, and the 2 Steves (me and Presenter Steve Backshall) went up into the roof so that he could assess the suitability of the nest.  It was really difficult to get to, crawling through small gaps, balancing on beams and then finally squeezing through an even smaller gap into an enclosed space, complete with active hornets nest!  Steve quickly declared it perfect!  Back down in the Ed room, the rest of the film crew didn’t seem quite so coinvinced about how ‘perfect’ it was!  Invading the space of a hornets nest, with huge great (hot!) lamps didn’t seem a sensible thing to try, and I was in full agreement!   Steve managed to convinvce them though, so up they went, and after 45 mins or so of banging about upstairs they all returend  – safe and triumphant that they had some excellent footage.  The hornets had come out and covered the nest with their bodies, with only one or two flying around – the same behaviour that I had witnessed when I first found the nest a few months ago.  I’m sure it’s some sort of collective defence of the nest, and acts as a deterent for any would-be attacker, as I’m sure if they felt threatened they could do some serious damage with their stings!  Can’t tell you much about what they managed to film exactly because I wasn’t up there with them – I was busy downstairs with an angry hornet!  One of them had somehow managed to get downstairs (we think via the light fitting) and was buzzing angrily around the Resources room.  We did what we felt was the best solution to the problem – we sent Amanda in to sort it out!  I was in charge of keeping the door shut so that it couldn’t escape, while Amanda went in, armed with 2 sweep nets and a pair of welders gauntletts! 

I do have a picture to go in here  – but have left it at work so will put in on tomorrow – sorry!

 Credit where it’s due – she emerged victorious a few minutes later and the angry hornet was released outside to go and calm down somewhere!   By now the crew had finished their filming for the day, and left us with news that they would be back the next day to go for the Adders.  As I looked out of the window, a faint glimmer of sunlight was trying to get through the clouds.  How on earth was I going to find an Adder for them in the middle of October?………

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2008 10:41 pm

    Hi. Great picture of the nest. What a whopper! Can’t wait to see the picture of Amanda in full “hornet catching” gear… Jane

  2. October 11, 2008 2:03 pm

    Hi Jane,

    Yes, it does look like she is about to do battle with a pride of lions as you’ll see! Quite a contrast to your method of using a tumbler and card – why didn’t we think of that?

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