United Kingdom Deadly 60


United Kingdom

Children's wildlife documentary. Scouring the UK for lethal beauties, Steve goes otter-spotting with Terry Nutkins and meets with the UK's biggest spider.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall.

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(You can call me Steve.)

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I'm on a mission to find the Deadly 60. That's 60 deadly creatures.

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I'm travelling all over the world

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and you're coming with me, every step of the way.

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Shark.

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Today on Deadly 60, we're in the west coast of Scotland.

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We're here.

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Behind us is the famous Isle of Skye.

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Off there in the distance is the Isle of Rum

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and behind us is the Knoydart Peninsula.

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It's got some of the most rugged wilderness in the whole of Britain

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and it's an absolute haven for wildlife.

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Of all the different types of animals found here in the UK,

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there's one particular family that has a reputation

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for ferocity, bravery and punching above their weight.

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And that's the weasel family.

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Have a look at this.

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Every member of the weasel family is an awesome predator.

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Fast, fearless and armed with razor-sharp teeth and claws,

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they're happy to take on prey that's at least as big as they are.

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Probably my favourite out of this whole group of animals,

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and certainly the most beautiful, is the otter.

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What have a pig's tail and 5:30 in the morning got in common?

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They're both too early. (Twirly.)

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Anyway, that's the time that me and the crew

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had to get up to maximise our chances of seeing otters.

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And we've barely even started before we catch a glimpse.

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This is the absolute chaos of wildlife film-making.

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Just spotted an otter right down at the seafront

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as we were driving along.

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We've all gone into absolute scramble.

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You can see Cameron, the sound man, trying to fix up super quick

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while I'm just trying to make sure that the otter doesn't disappear.

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No more than about 30 metres in front of us.

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He's just off the rocks in front of me.

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Steve!

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Oh, my goodness! Just in front of us.

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There. It's a youngster.

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Can you see him? Look.

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He's little more than a pup.

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He's just a young otter. Not much more than a cub, really.

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I say "he", but actually he's very sleek and slender.

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Probably a female.

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At the moment, she's ducking underwater, almost like a seal,

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fishing in amongst the kelp that's right in close to the shore here.

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Probably catching crabs, molluscs and crustaceans.

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Wonderful sight.

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Just as fast as she appeared, she was gone.

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While we continue on our search, check this out.

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On the surface, otters look cute and cuddly.

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But once they're in the water and hunting,

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they turn into fast, ruthless killing machines.

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Their long, slim bodies and short, powerful limbs

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make them super-streamlined underwater,

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using their webbed paws and muscular tails to power them along.

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They're protected from the cold by their thick fur,

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which acts as insulation,

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trapping layers of air, which keeps them warm.

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They feed on fish, frogs, water birds and crabs

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and have some of the most powerful jaws for a creature of their size,

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which they use to crunch through the shells

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and rip apart their prey.

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Time to call on a hero of mine

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to help us find these elusive creatures.

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Terry Nutkins has been a TV presenter and naturalist

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for over 30 years.

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He's studied and worked with otters for most of his life.

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That's a lovely little otter you've got there.

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He lives up here,

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amongst the incredible wildlife of the Scottish coast

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and he's taking us to a particular spot

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where he's watched otters many times before.

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Oh, look!

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Along the way, we're joined by porpoise

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and even some seals come to say hello.

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Look at that. How about that for seals on the doorstep? Jealous?

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Very jealous, yeah.

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-The last few just heading in now.

-Isn't that nice?

-Beautiful.

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That's the youngest one, I think.

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Oh, yeah. That's tiny.

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Whee!

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-Have you seen any otters?

-No.

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This is beautiful.

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I grew up about two miles round the point there and we had pet otters.

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And they're a bit wacko, really, you know.

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We did rescue a couple of cubs.

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We called them Mossy and Mundy.

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We hand-reared them and we let them free.

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Some of these otters round here could be descendants from that.

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But it's luck of the draw, you know, where they are.

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Something.

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-Yeah. Otter.

-I've got it as well.

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Right, well, that one may well come closer in.

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I'm so lucky to be in a situation

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where I can literally walk out into the garden in front of the house

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and see an otter, probably every other day in the spring

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and probably twice a week at this time of year,

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depending on the weather conditions.

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And there it is. Back up again in front of that rock.

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-Do you see it?

-I got it, yeah.

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You're talking about otters being part of the weasel family,

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which, as we know, is a group of the bravest, most ferocious,

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most fearless animals on the planet.

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You've actually got some very real evidence of that, haven't you?

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You actually lost parts of your fingers to otters?

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Yeah. These two fingers here were bitten off at the same time.

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This is when we first learnt about how volatile they are.

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It was quite simple, someone came to stay.

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The otter bit her in the back of the leg.

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Nobody thought any more about it.

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When she left, she gave me her jumper.

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A couple of weeks later, I put it on.

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I was in the house on my own and the otter, her name was Edal,

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wanted to go out for a walk because be walked them like dogs.

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I went up to get her and I sat on the end of the bed

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and I had the jumper on for the first time.

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With the scent of the woman she'd taken a dislike to?

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Yeah, before I could do anything, she tore my welly boot off.

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Just tore right into there.

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So me, being so naive at that age and not knowing, not being aware

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of the crushing jaws that otters have got, because they need them,

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put my hand down to get her off, and of course she got my hand.

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She literally ripped my hands to shreds.

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Then got hold of that finger.

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I'm tugging away and all I remember is her chewing and crunching.

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So I picked her up with this hand, and this hand's still in her mouth

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and I threw her.

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And as I threw her, she twisted round and took that finger with her.

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Just went "pyung!" like that.

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Then I shot out the room. I threw the jumper away.

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-I bet you did.

-Never wore that jumper again!

-Unbelievable.

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They're wild animals. They're not domestic animals.

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You can tame an animal as much as you want,

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but, you know, they're still wild and they're unpredictable.

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And otters, out of all animals, or the weasel family,

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are unpredictable.

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They may well be Britain's most endearing mammal,

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but they've also got to be one of the most elusive.

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There's also no doubt that they are a fierce killer.

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I mean, try to imagine if you were a sand eel or a trout,

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down in amongst the kelp here

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and all of a sudden, out of nowhere,

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a giant water weasel came plunging through the seaweed

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in a fierce frenzy of teeth and claws.

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You wouldn't last a second.

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And that's why the otter is going on the Deadly 60.

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Formidable predators in the water,

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fast and agile, with jaws that can bite through bone,

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the otter has earned its place on my Deadly 60 list.

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We're in eastern England in the Suffolk fens.

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A fen is a kind of very flat

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sort of boggy area of land with bits of standing water.

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Very pretty, but you might think

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the most unlikely place on the planet to find deadly wildlife.

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Mind you, get into these pools

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and you find lots of tiny creatures with enormous appetites.

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Let's see what we can find.

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OK, imagine you're the size of a tadpole.

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Then this pond, and these guys, are your worst nightmare.

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So, who are the top predators in this micro world?

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First up, we have the water boatmen.

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They use their feathery legs to hang just under the surface,

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waiting to ambush tadpoles and small insects.

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They have bright, burning red eyes and a beak called a rostrum

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which they'll use to paralyse and suck the juices out of their prey.

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And they're not too fond of humans either.

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Now, believe it or not, if you handle one of these,

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there's a good chance that you might get bitten and it can be very sore.

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In fact, it's a bit like pushing a needle into your hand.

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I have to say,

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one of the most unpleasant bites I've had in this country.

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Next up, the diving beetle.

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They swim down to the bottom and cling to grasses or pieces of wood

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until prey passes by, and then strike,

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trapping them between their front legs

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and then biting down with their mandibles.

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They are nightmare creatures.

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Absolutely amazing hunters and great swimmers.

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And very weird looking!

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He is an absolute horror of the deep.

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And lastly, the dragonfly nymph.

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Dragonflies live their young years underwater,

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sometimes for as much as two years,

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catching other insects, small fish and tadpoles.

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They can fire out the bottom half of their face like a detachable mask

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and impale anything that swims too close.

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They can also fire themselves forward at great speed

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by squirting water out of their bottom.

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This is an absolutely awesome jet-propelled predator.

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They're all ferocious creatures, but they're not going on the list,

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as there's another predator that would have these guys for breakfast.

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To find it, I'm gonna have to get wet,

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which explains why I'm dressing up like some demented fisherman.

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If, however, you don't have waders like this,

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you could always do what our cameraman Mark's done

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and get yourself a 1980's scuba suit.

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Be aware, though,

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you may have low flying planes trying to land on your head.

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PLANE ENGINE

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Right, this water can be a lot deeper than it looks.

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A lot deeper than it looks!

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OK, I'm going to try and move quite slowly,

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firstly because I could, all of a sudden,

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end up up to my neck and it's quite cold.

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Secondly, I don't want to spook off

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our next deadly animal.

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Oh! It's all muddy and horrible!

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Aah!

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Success already.

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OK, it's pretty much the same depth here.

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So just come forward slowly.

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Right, just sitting in front of me here

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is our next Deadly 60 hero.

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This is a great raft spider.

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We've been granted special permission to see these spiders,

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as they're endangered and a protected species.

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She is the largest spider that we have here in Britain.

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At the moment, she's actually sat clinging on to an egg-sack.

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I think that's an old one.

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Bright yellow stripe running down the abdomen.

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She is wonderful. And a good size as well.

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Triumph!

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It's a bit late in the season now

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and she's looking a little bit the worse for wear.

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Earlier on, when she would actually have had her egg-sac

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full of tiny little legs,

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as many as 600 spiderlings would erupt out

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and cover this nursery tent silk in tiny little scurrying black dots.

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Now they've all dispersed, you can see the remnants.

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That kind of brown, worn-out old silk.

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How about that? We've found one already.

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But we can do better than that!

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So, there's no doubt this is a very big, beautiful spider,

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but if I'm going to convince you that they can be deadly,

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I'm going to have to show you one hunting.

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If we were going to wait for that to happen out there,

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I reckon we'd be here for about a month.

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So, we've set up a special Deadly 60 experiment.

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This tank is filled with the exact life

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that you find out there in the ponds.

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Just the sort of things that this spider will be feeding on.

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Mark, the cameraman down here, has a super-high magnification lens,

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so hopefully we'll get to see this spider hunting.

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All we need to do now is sit and wait and hope for some action.

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Raft spiders spend most of their life half in, half out of the water.

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They sense ripples along the surface

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that lets them know that their dinner's approaching.

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The reason the spider's managed to make

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this environment so much its own

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is down to its use of surface tension.

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For very small creatures

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and for creatures that can spread the weight efficiently,

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the surface of the water becomes like a sort of elastic sheet

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that it can skate about over the top of.

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You can see this one here standing up on its tiptoes on the water,

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almost as if it was solid.

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It can still, however, duck beneath the surface

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and catch things that are swimming around,

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just underneath the water.

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But this spider can do something even more amazing.

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He's just ducked beneath the surface. Now, look.

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That is amazing.

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All of that silvery sheen to the exoskeleton

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is just trapped air bubbles

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which are held under tiny, tiny little hairs all down the legs.

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It makes him look like he's been wrapped up in BacoFoil or something.

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Just turned into a robot spider!

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Amazing!

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That they can stay submerged like this on a single breath of air

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for perhaps as long as an hour.

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Which kind of shows why it's pointless flushing a spider

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down the sink or down the bath.

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Look at that. Going right down.

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Actually, he's right by a water boatmen at the bottom of this reed.

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This could be about to happen.

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We could be about to see raft spider hunting in progress.

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Ooh! That was close!

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Did you see that? The spider's definitely getting more active.

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Oh!

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You're in trouble! Just missed it.

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Oh! Got it!

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That was absolutely formidable.

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The spider just absolutely lunged forward,

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caught hold of that water boatmen,

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which themselves are quite ferocious predators, and it's all over.

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Right now, the venom is being injected into that insect

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and it's going to start digesting from the inside out.

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And it's history.

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All over in a flash.

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You can't tell me that's not deadly.

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A spider that fishes for its prey may sound bizarre,

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but where most animals would sink, our spider thrives.

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It's super senses and it lightning fast reactions

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definitely get the raft spider on my Deadly 60.

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Our largest and probably one of our rarest native spiders,

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a truly veracious hunter with an awesome way of catching its prey.

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The raft spider is definitely going on my Deadly 60 list.

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Over the years, the absolute bane of my life has been people

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complaining about peregrines pooing on the ground while they're talking.

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Thank you! You've just completely upstaged me!

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At least it didn't get the car!

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Over the years, the absolute bane of my life

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has been people complaining about British wildlife,

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saying it's too tame and too boring

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and where are the lions and great white sharks?

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Well, in answer to that,

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let me present you with the peregrine falcon.

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Peregrines are resident British birds

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found in mountainous, rugged parts of the country.

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And they are the fastest creature that has ever lived.

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Ever.

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Full-stop.

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They've been clocked at an incredible 180 mph

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when they're going into a dive known as a stoop.

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They hunt medium-sized birds such as water fowl,

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but they're particularly partial to a pigeon supper.

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Stooping to hit them with their clenched talons,

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they knock the bird unconscious

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and then weave around to catch the bird in flight.

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It's all over in seconds.

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A peregrine hunting is one of the most dramatic, explosive,

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dynamic sights in the animal kingdom.

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And in order to demonstrate that,

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we've come up with a Deadly 60 experiment

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for which we'll need Lucy here,

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a seven-year-old, captive-bred falcon,

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this stupidly fast, flashy car, and of course, a moody black sky.

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Cue Top Gear filter.

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So, the basic idea is that the car will take the place of a pigeon.

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And I've got to drive it.

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Now, I'm up against one of the world's best hunters

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so I need to have a quick test drive.

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# Lose yourself in the music The moment, you own it

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# You better never let it go You only get one shot

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# Do not miss your chance to blow

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# Cos opportunity comes once in a lifetime

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# You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it

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# You better never let it go... #

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Horrible!

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It was really scary!

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Peregrine falcons are absolute specialists,

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totally designed for hunting other birds while they're on the wing.

0:21:100:21:14

So, for the purpose of this experiment,

0:21:140:21:17

you have to imagine that this big, black, shiny car is a big pigeon.

0:21:170:21:21

Basically, the peregrine is going to hunt us.

0:21:210:21:24

The handlers use bits of meat

0:21:250:21:28

and a bright yellow lure to get Lucy's attention.

0:21:280:21:31

So now she can see us. She can see the lure.

0:21:310:21:35

She's instantly really, really excited, really ready to go.

0:21:350:21:39

Full of energy, she's ready to hunt.

0:21:390:21:41

I must say, I'm quite excited, too.

0:21:410:21:44

I can feel the adrenaline surging already.

0:21:440:21:47

Time for the bird's handler, Lloyd,

0:21:470:21:50

to jump in with the lure in his hand.

0:21:500:21:52

The chase is on.

0:21:520:21:54

She can see us.

0:21:540:21:56

The wings are spread.

0:21:560:21:57

Off she goes!

0:21:580:22:00

She's heading straight for us, I can see her in my rear view mirror.

0:22:030:22:07

OK, here we go, we're speeding up, speeding up.

0:22:070:22:10

We're getting faster, up to 40 mph,

0:22:100:22:13

she's right in close to us!

0:22:130:22:16

Quicker, quicker, quicker, faster!

0:22:160:22:18

Whoa! Right over our heads.

0:22:180:22:21

This is unbelievable, she's keeping pace with us without even trying.

0:22:230:22:28

You can just see her coming side to side, like a jet plane.

0:22:280:22:33

She's absolutely extraordinary.

0:22:330:22:35

She's right alongside us! I can see her in my mirror.

0:22:350:22:38

She's just hanging, metres off the side of the car.

0:22:380:22:42

Wow, right in close! Across the back of the car, she's right in close.

0:22:420:22:48

She's up alongside Mark!

0:22:480:22:50

It's incredible, she's a foot away from the camera.

0:22:500:22:53

You can see that anchor shape, that distinctive falcon shape.

0:22:530:22:57

Filming like this allows us to take a close look at how Lucy flies.

0:22:570:23:01

Effortlessly keeping up with a sports car,

0:23:010:23:04

but a moving pigeon would be even harder to tail.

0:23:040:23:08

If I was a pigeon in the wild, the peregrine would attack from above,

0:23:090:23:14

accelerating into a stoop to take me out.

0:23:140:23:17

OK, we're coming to the end of the runway now, Lloyd.

0:23:170:23:20

We're out of space. Whooooa!

0:23:200:23:22

And up she goes.

0:23:250:23:27

That was out of this world.

0:23:300:23:33

I don't believe it!

0:23:360:23:39

Well, I've just had a quick look at what it must feel like

0:23:390:23:44

to be a pigeon with a peregrine coming out of the sun towards you...

0:23:440:23:49

Absolutely terrifying!

0:23:490:23:51

Honestly, the power and pace of that bird is breathtaking.

0:23:510:23:55

There's no other word for it.

0:23:550:23:58

That was so much fun, I think we might have to try it again.

0:23:590:24:03

OK, so while Lucy carries on exercising,

0:24:110:24:14

here's some more about the peregrine falcon.

0:24:140:24:17

In order to withstand speeds of 180mph,

0:24:190:24:23

peregrine falcons' bodies have some added pieces of kit.

0:24:230:24:28

At these speeds,

0:24:280:24:29

airflow rushes through the nostrils and would press on the brain.

0:24:290:24:34

This would make the peregrine just fall unconscious in flight.

0:24:340:24:37

So peregrines have small cones just inside their nostrils

0:24:370:24:42

to deflect the shockwaves of air.

0:24:420:24:44

The pigeons they feed on

0:24:440:24:46

are some of the fastest birds around in straight flight -

0:24:460:24:49

but no match for this speed merchant.

0:24:490:24:52

Woah!

0:24:520:24:54

God, she nearly took my head off!

0:24:560:24:58

That's exactly what it would be like to be hit by a peregrine.

0:24:580:25:02

It's that moment where they fold their wings

0:25:020:25:06

and all of a sudden they hit maximum velocity,

0:25:060:25:09

travelling at as much as 180mph.

0:25:090:25:11

We're talking about an acceleration of 0-60 in about 0.6 seconds,

0:25:110:25:17

to make this car look like nothing.

0:25:170:25:20

Just hanging high, he's a good 20 metres above us.

0:25:200:25:25

Oh, my life!

0:25:270:25:29

That was too close.

0:25:310:25:33

Lloyd, you just nearly got me scalped by a peregrine falcon.

0:25:380:25:42

He nearly took my head off!

0:25:420:25:44

I don't know how that looked to you, but I felt his feathers,

0:25:500:25:54

just the wing tips flicked my ears

0:25:540:25:57

and saw this big pair of talons coming at my face.

0:25:570:26:00

He must have been an inch from me.

0:26:000:26:02

My goodness.

0:26:050:26:07

Argh!

0:26:080:26:10

You gave me the fright of my life!

0:26:130:26:15

I thought you were going to take my head off.

0:26:150:26:18

There's no doubt, though, as beautiful as she is,

0:26:180:26:20

as a high-speed hunter, the peregrine falcon has no equal.

0:26:200:26:24

The fastest creature on Earth.

0:26:240:26:26

For that reason alone,

0:26:260:26:28

peregrine falcon is definitely on the Deadly 60.

0:26:280:26:32

Yes, you're beautiful, aren't you?

0:26:320:26:35

And you know it.

0:26:350:26:36

The peregrine is the largest falcon in Britain.

0:26:400:26:42

It's the fastest animal on the planet ever,

0:26:420:26:46

and its beak, talons and raw speed

0:26:460:26:48

make it one of the deadliest predators we've had on my list.

0:26:480:26:52

Coming up next time on the Deadly 60...

0:26:550:26:59

Get him over here!

0:26:590:27:00

There, there!

0:27:050:27:07

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:180:27:21

E-mail [email protected]

0:27:210:27:24

The action shifts to Steve's home turf as the Deadly 60 team scour the UK in search of its lethal beauties.

Terry Nutkins lends a helping hand in spotting otters and tells Steve the story of how he lost two fingers to one of these creatures. A bit of pond-dipping reveals a whole host of the nasties ready to bite, maim and generally eat each other, and Steve gets a chance to meet with the biggest spider in the UK.

Then it's off for a high-speed chase as Steve plays pigeon for the afternoon and nearly loses his head whilst being hunted by the fastest animal on the planet, the truly incredible peregrine falcon.


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