The Deadly 60 team scours the UK in search of its lethal beauties. Gannets prove to be more than a match for Steve in a diving competition.
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My name's Steve Backshall!
You can call me Steve.
I'm on a mission to find the Deadly 60...
that's 60 deadly creatures...
by travelling all over the world.
And you're coming with me, every step of the way.
Deadly 60 is not just about exotic animals
from far-flung parts of the world.
We have plenty of exciting wildlife right here in the UK.
I'm here, Pembrokeshire, in Wales,
to show you that Britain really does have lots of deadly animals.
The next Deadly 60 animal we're looking for has been voted as
the greatest wildlife spectacle of in the whole of the British Isles.
Unfortunately, to get anywhere near them,
we've got to paddle through what is probably the fastest,
the heaviest-flowing white water,
and some of the nastiest sea you'll find anywhere.
I think we're gonna get wet!
Oh, my life!
All I can see ahead of me now
is just a towering river of white caps running through the sea.
All this white water is churning up nutrients below,
which attracts the fish. And this in turn attracts the sea birds.
And it's one sea bird in particular I'm after - the awesome gannet.
If I can just get through this lot!
It's becoming pretty obvious that I'm getting nowhere fast.
I need the kayak to get close to the gannets.
But to get through this white water, I'm gonna need a bigger boat.
We're on our way to Grassholme Island,
which is home to the third biggest colony of northern gannets
in the British Isles.
But before we get there, we get a little surprise.
Look at this!
Look, over there!
Right on the bow, Johnny!
It's always a good day once you've seen a dolphin.
But I haven't got time to stay and play with dolphins.
We're approaching our destination. So it's back into the kayaks.
11 miles out to sea...
is Grassholm Island.
From a distance, it just looks like an insignificant piece of rock,
just dumped in the middle of the North Atlantic.
But as you get up closer,
the sky begins to fill with these white shapes.
And then when you see the island itself,
it's just covered with birds.
I reckon just about our most majestic seabird.
They really are such pretty birds.
The plumage is just perfect white,
but the wing tips are jet black.
They seem to be wearing black eyeliner around their eyes!
And it kind of looks like they've dumped their head in a jar of honey.
They're also a really big bird. The body can be a metre long.
The wingspan, about, well, just under two metres.
So, almost as long as my paddle.
But it's not their size, or how pretty they are,
that's gonna get them on the Deadly 60.
It's the way they hunt.
Gannets are nature's equivalent of a harpoon.
Gannets spot their prey from 30 metres up,
lock on to it with their incredible vision,
and then fold their wings into a dive.
They hit the water at speeds of over 60mph.
Gannets have air sacks around their heads and chest,
that act like built-in air bags, cushioning the impact.
So that's how the gannets do it.
But what does it feel like to hit the water from that kind of height
and at that kind of speed?
Well, I've come to this oil rig to find out.
We're about 20 metres above the water,
which is kind of average for a gannet's dive.
Erm, it does look kind of high, though.
And if I don't get it just right, it's gonna really hurt.
Oh, my head!
Er, I hit the water pretty good,
but it feels like my brain's rattling around inside my skull.
The gannet does that over and over and over again.
Honestly, it's an incredible achievement.
I think the gannet makes an Olympic high-diving champion
look like a total sissy.
I've got water coming out of my nose!
I know they look beautiful, but to a fish,
they really are like some crazy masked ninja.
And that's why gannets have got to go on the Deadly 60.
Able to dive at over 60mph,
and plunge to depths of 20 metres or more,
these are true fish-catching machines.
And let's face it, more streamlined than I'll ever be.
Gannets are on the Deadly 60.
-D'you wanna pass me the camera, Mark?
'For my next deadly British encounter,
'I've invited my crew on a wild adventure.
'And of course, they're right behind me.'
I'll get myself over, guys.
Don't worry about me.
Will you stop filming me?
Make sure you step over this beautiful spider's web, Mark.
Don't walk straight through that with your clumsy hoofers.
Ever since I was a little kid, I've been obsessed with snakes.
And I spend a good part of my life travelling around the world,
catching some of the most venomous ones.
Touch wood, I've never been bitten by handling one.
Although I did get hospitalised
when I stood right on top of a venomous snake and got bitten.
It wasn't a black mamba.
It wasn't a king cobra.
And it wasn't a gaboon viper.
Although it was in the viper family.
In fact, it was right here in the heaths of southern England.
So I've come back here to try and find one.
I was in my local country park, out walking the dog.
And...throwing sticks for her.
And all of a sudden, felt a really sharp pain in my ankle.
And it turned out to be an adder.
It's had me incapacitated for the last four days,
laid up in hospital for three of those.
And now my leg's going purple.
I was bitten here.
Only one fang went in, I think, cos I could only see one spot of blood.
And then immediately all of this area really swelled up,
very, very large, very bloated.
And the swelling spread all the way up my leg. It's pretty ugly.
I'll have more respect for them in the future, that's for sure.
How are you feeling, Steve?
-Yeah, all right.
-I think you're very brave.
Now, I'd be absolutely heartbroken
if people were scared of snakes because of what happened to me.
Truth is, I must have stood right on top of that adder
for it to have bitten me.
Actually, it's incredibly rare for people to even see them.
As soon as anyone gets close, they just disappear off into the bushes,
and their camouflage is amazing.
That's why they're gonna be very difficult to find.
This is a perfect location to go looking for adders.
The Wildlife Trust has laid down these tin shelters.
And there's plenty of thick undergrowth
for them to skitter off into if there's any sign of danger.
This is beautiful.
And there's also plenty of food around for them.
This is a sand lizard.
This really is a very special find. Ooh! Off he goes.
I think we'll let him disappear off into the heather now.
We've got snakes to find.
I've got two slow worms here.
Immediately, when you see that long, slender shape, you think, "Snake".
But actually, this is one of our lizards.
One way of actually telling them apart
is that if you look them in the eyes for long enough,
lizards have eyelids, and snakes don't.
So theoretically, if you try and stare out our slowworm here,
you should eventually get a blink.
Although I was yet to see an adder, under these pieces of tin,
I found a whole host of our other native reptiles.
Ooh! A bit firey!
Now, this is probably Britain's least-known snake.
It's a smooth snake.
And the name comes from the exceptional, silky quality
they have to their scales.
There's no kind of ridging at all
as you run your finger down them, like this.
And his one, to begin with, looked like he wanted to try and bite me.
But now, I think he's actually
getting a bit more comfortable in my hands.
Absolutely gorgeous snake. But no venom whatsoever.
And not the snake we're looking for.
So let's put it back.
Oh, my goodness! Come and have a look at this!
Put this down...
Nice and careful.
Now, this...is a grass snake.
Starting to go a little bit crazy at the moment.
But it'll settle down in just a second.
You can see, one of the first things a grass snake does when it's handled
is squirt unpleasant, white goo out of its bottom,
which smells like I can't even begin to describe.
Now, there's various ways of telling the three British snakes apart.
The thing to look out for on the grass snake
is the yellow collar behind the head,
which will often have another black collar behind it.
And then, if you look at the eyes,
those are very different to the adder.
They have a round pupil, as opposed to the slit-shaped one in the adder.
This is our largest snake.
In fact, grass snakes
have been known to get to over a metre and a half in length.
This one here is just a baby.
But even so, for small frogs and toads,
he is a slithering nightmare.
So that's two snakes down, just one more to go.
But that's the one we're looking for.
Stop. Stop, stop, stop.
Here's an adder.
OK, let's try and get him out into the open.
That...is Britain's only venomous snake - the adder.
Now, I have to say, this is absolutely not something
that I would encourage people back home to do.
The adder is a protected snake,
and we're only doing this because we're on Wildlife Trust land,
and dealing with people
who really know how this snake needs to be protected,
and needs to be cared for.
Cos in all honesty...
this snake is in far more danger from people...
than we are from it. That said,
the adder is an extraordinary predator.
It has really quite toxic venom, for a snake of this size.
It has a very, very fast strike.
And as you've seen from how difficult it has been
for us to actually find one...
AMAZING camouflage. Absolutely extraordinary.
One part of the adder that does stand out,
and I'm not sure if Mark can get close enough to get a shot of this,
is the eye. The eyeball is what lets you know
that this really is a viper.
It's bright red, with a slit-shaped pupil.
I have to say, even a snake enthusiast like me
looks at that and thinks that this snake does look a bit evil,
when you get up close to it.
And listen to that hiss.
This is the threat that's used by pretty much all of the reptiles,
from the crocodiles through the tiniest to the biggest of snakes.
He's just forcing air out through his lungs,
making a sound which you could never mistake from anything other
than a way of telling you to go away.
This is the first time I've caught an adder, despite having pretty much
grown up surrounded by them on the Surrey Heaths.
But this is the first opportunity I've had to be able to catch one.
And I have to say, I will treasure this for ever.
What a magnificent creature.
The adder is the only venomous snake in the British Isles.
with a lightning strike,
it makes it a truly awesome predator,
and worthy of a place on my list.
Seems kind of crazy on a gorgeous, blue-sky, sunshiney day like today,
to go inside looking for wild life.
But the local Wildlife Trust have given us a tip-off
that there's something very exciting living in their roof.
So, we're heading up there.
That's "we", guys, you are coming with me.
-Are you sure about this?
-I'm all right down here.
-Yeah, it's fine, it's nice down here.
OK, So...this is a special camera
which I can use to get close to the animals that are inside here.
God, I don't want to go through the ceiling.
You can see down here,
loads of small droppings.
Some of these are probably from rodents, from rats and mice.
But there's also some really spectacular animals...
just up there.
These are brown, long-eared bats.
they're just sleeping,
which is why we have to keep so quiet and be so careful around them.
The first thing that's immediately evident is the gigantic ears.
And those are a great help for the bat when they're echo-locating.
They can bounce a click off a tiny flying insect,
and the click will come back to them,
and be picked up by those huge ears.
When you look closely at this bat, you can see it's shivering.
During the daytime, and when they're hibernating,
bats can almost completely shut down all of their body processes,
and bring their body heat right down.
And they'll use shivering
to bring the body heat back up again before they become active.
Any second now, this bat's gonna wake up.
There, look at that.
Isn't he gorgeous?
Now, if we hang around here any longer, he's gonna wake up properly,
and want to fly away. We don't wanna do that.
They are great predators,
but they're not the animal that I've come up here to find.
That's further in, under the eaves.
Let's go and see.
A quick escape isn't gonna be easy.
I think I'm stuck!
God, it's like trying to go through a loft with a herd of wildebeest!
Walking...along these beams...
Right, they're just through here, in this corner here.
So I figure if I go in, and you just put your head round the corner,
then we've got to be really, really careful how we move,
cos the last thing we want to do is to get these angry.
Because that would be very bad news up here.
Just next to me here, this exquisite structure,
which looks very much like a sort of partially-deflated beach ball,
is actually the nest of our largest species of wasp.
The reason that we're moving very slowly and trying to keep quiet
is that these can actually be quite dangerous.
They're very, very large.
I mean, from the tip of their abdomen,
that is the back of their tail, to their head,
can be as big as my thumb.
They have an extremely painful sting.
And if they feel that their nest is being threatened,
they won't hesitate to use it.
Right, let's see if I can get in close with this camera,
and show you... some of those hornets.
I can hear them.
Oh, there's one there.
Look at that. They're huge.
There, look. They're starting to come out.
That nest is just made up of chewed-up paper pulp.
Listen to their feet, that scurrying noise!
Lets me know that they are not happy.
This incredible structure is started by the queen out of chewed-up wood.
Then the worker hornets carry on the building.
Each of these intricate hexagonal-shaped cells
house eggs, laid by the queen, which hatch into grubs.
One way they feed their young
is by going on raids attacking unsuspecting honey bee hives,
in order to get to the bees' protein-rich larvae.
In order to do that, they have to kill off all the adult bees first.
The hive could contain 30,000 adult bees.
And the hornets will spend up to three hours systematically killing
every one until they can get at the larvae themselves.
While these insects would certainly hurt like billy-o
if they were to sting me,
it's to other insects that they're really deadly.
Hornets are amazing predators.
They'll catch almost any small insect on the wing and devour it
using their powerful mandibles.
If it's large enough to need it,
they'll paralyse it, using their sting.
And if it hurts me,
then any small insect is gonna be instantly paralysed.
Ooh! Oh, dear.
Uh-oh. Right, now is when we have to bid our retreat.
Because once they're in the air like this, is when they're really angry.
And, er, if you get stung by one,
they release a kind of pheromone, a chemical scent,
which makes all the others attack.
So now is the time to leave.
I think it is time to leave.
OK, it's going for your camera, Mark.
I don't like it now. I might just... I can't turn the light off.
Oh, he's by me trouser leg!
Well, we eventually got out of the loft,
and all managed to avoid getting stung by these deadly dudes.
Huge, fast, lethal mandibles,
and a formidable sting.
The hornets have earned their place on my Deadly 60 list.
Next on my list
is one of the amazing birds of prey we have here in the UK.
And it hunts in the challenging environment of our woodlands.
The master of this habitat is this winged wonder, the goshawk.
Goshawks typically breed and hunt in mature woodlands.
And hunting in here is all about dodging obstacles
and being able to ambush your prey.
-Because of that...
-GOSHAWK CRIES OUT
she has a very different design, and quite a loud voice, as you can hear!
I'm not sure she'll let me show you this,
but the wings - come on, sweetheart - are shorter, and more rounded.
And she has this wonderful, fan-shaped tail.
There you go.
This works almost like a rudder, seeing her in amongst the trees.
To show you just how awesome she can be, in full predatory mode,
we're gonna have her hunt something a little bit bigger than normal. Me.
Goshawks are so super-fast,
we've had to bring all kinds of bits of kit
to try and film her in flight.
We've even got people in the trees!
I've got, erm, I've got the lure,
a little bit of meat there, on my hand.
And when Ellie is loosed,
she's gonna try and find the path of least resistance to find me.
This woodland could be hell for a bird of prey.
It's just a tangle of beech, conifers and hazel.
And all the trees are very tightly packed together.
And for a bird as big as the goshawk, really,
it's gonna have to dodge and weave in and out
with incredible manoeuvrability.
I'm really quite a way away from her.
But, erm, their eyesight is about eight times better than ours.
So she should spot me with ease.
OK, whenever you're ready...
The force of that, as she hits you!
Imagine what it must be like if you were a rabbit!
I didn't hear a sound!
It just belted me!
OK, so now I've felt what it's like to be the prey,
we actually have a remarkable bit of technology
which can show us exactly what it's like to be the hunter.
This harness here - please don't take my fingers off, Ellie,
that would be such a bad day -
attaches to a tiny little mini camera, which is gonna give us
a goshawk's-eye view of flying through these trees.
Come on, shall we get you kitted up?
Right, just about...there.
Now that my role as prey is over, it's time to check out
exactly how Ellie hunts, in such thick woods.
Right, let's have a little look at our hero,
or should I say heroine, in action.
Look at that!
You can see the talons coming back open, spreading,
with these razor-sharp ends to them.
Just imagine, if you were a bird or a rabbit,
and saw those coming at you like that,
it would be the last thing you ever saw.
I mean, really, she's gone from about 30 miles an hour
to a complete stop in the space of under a second.
The deceleration forces must be incredible,
the G-forces, just unreal.
And she's doing that by throwing back her wings,
spreading all of those flight feathers,
and just stopping herself dead,
just like a parachute on a drag racing car.
But all of that force will have gone into the prey.
All the force from the flight is just gonna hit the prey,
and really it's gonna be all over within seconds.
That was... Hang on, I'm gonna watch that again.
It was all over... Even speeded down that amount,
it's all over in a fraction of a second.
Effortlessly, she's folded her wings together so she can get through
that narrow gap without actually losing any speed whatsoever.
But she's going through a gap that's not much wider than her body,
let alone her body with her spread wings.
I think all of this technology that we've had to use to get any sense
of what the goshawk's like at hunting really shows
why she has to go on the Deadly 60.
I mean, she thinks, acts, sees,
in a whole different world of speed to us.
And that's why you're going on the Deadly 60.
You have no idea what that is, do you?
Amazing acceleration, speed and agility.
This dodging and weaving aerial predator
is any woodland animal's worst nightmare.
Goshawk has got to go on the Deadly 60.
Coming up next time on the Deadly 60...
Just turned into a robot spider.
That was too close!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
The action shifts to Steve's home turf as the Deadly 60 team scour the UK in search of its lethal beauties. From the wild seas off the Pembrokeshire coast to the New Forest, Steve proves that British wildlife is anything but boring.
Gannets prove to be more than a match for Steve in a diving competition. He battles with the elements to reach the birds but the rough seas are determined to stop him. He then has to confront his past as he comes face to face with the only venomous snake that has hospitalised him.
The Deadly team also have a close call as they uncover a hornets' nest in a loft, and Steve gets a taste of what it is like to be prey for a day as he is hunted through a forest by a hungry goshawk.