Filming the wild side of London

This article was orginally written for BBC London

What’s a typical Londoner’s day at work like?  The crowded commute, the long stretches at the desk, the headache inducing glare of the computer screen, many pints of coffee to survive?  Perhaps.  Our days involve much of that too, but work also involves going on wild chases across the capital in pursuit of our city’s best natural history stories.

London, to most, may not seem the obvious location to set a film about wildlife but actually our home city is teeming with creatures, and with nature enthusiasts.  You’re probably one of them.  Every day Londoners encounter all kinds of birds, mammals and insects, darting about in some beautiful green spaces (which London boasts many of) but also in some of our capital’s most built up bits.

Since working on the film project, I’ve watched dawn break and spill gold over a Hackney reservoir that’s framed with tower blocks and filled with water birds.  I’ve spent a day on top of one of London’s tallest buildings watching raptors roam, including a peregrine that killed a pigeon midflight then sat on Tower Bridge to eat it.  I’ve met some incredibly cute tawny owl chicks in Kensington Gardens, learnt about rooftop bee keeping in Bermondsey and spent an awful lot of time with grey herons in various locations, including Regent’s Park, Walthamstow and the Zoo.

Our small team has been commissioned by the BBC Natural History Unit to produce an hour long documentary all about London’s wild side.  Over the next year our plan is to capture London’s most spectacular wildlife on camera and so create a film that will paint a unique portrait of the city.

But this is London and so the film must also show where people fit into the picture.  Already I have met a host of fascinating Londoners, who’ve all developed special relationships with the wildlife they encounter here.  It’s been a privilege seeing London through their eyes.  We want this film to show human interactions with urban nature, as well as showing wildlife in all its stunning glory.  We’re after great stories about wildlife in London and interesting Londoners to speak to.

We need your help.  There are certain rumours, stories and urban myths that we want to get to the bottom of.  Do pigeons really take the tube?  We also want to know if London’s most acrobatic squirrel is visiting your garden or if a bird is nesting on your balcony.  Where is the best place to see fox or rat raids?  Does an owl live in your local cemetery or have you come face to face with a cocky crow?

If you have a wild story to share please take a look at our website and get in touch – www.natureoflondon.co.uk – it would be great to hear from you.

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