UK Deadly 60


UK

Wildlife series. Steve and the Deadly 60 team are on their home turf, the UK. The adventure begins in a lake as Steve dives in to track down a deadly monster.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall,

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and this is my search for the Deadly 60.

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Amazing!

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That's not just animals that are deadly to me, but that are deadly

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in their own world.

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My crew and I are travelling the planet, and you're coming with me

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every step of the way!

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This time on Deadly 60, we're on my home turf in the British Isles.

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We're covering an enormous amount of terrain

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and seeing animals that hunt in a variety of different habitats -

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down on the ground, under water, up here in the tree tops,

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even the skies above us.

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The British Isles has oodles of different habitats

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and if you know where to look, they're full of deadly animals.

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First up, though, it's a trip

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over the countryside to see what's lurking in Britain's fresh waters.

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Every environment has its predators, and our waterways are no different.

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In fact, this lake is home to the most fearsome fish in the UK.

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It doesn't only hunt other fish, it'll even snatch water birds

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from beneath the surface.

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Our lakes and rivers might look pretty,

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but they hide a murky secret.

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If you live in one, almost everything is out to get you,

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from these tiny water fleas...

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..to little fish...

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and even savage invertebrates like this dragonfly larvae.

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It's a complete war zone down there, and as long as there's something

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bigger than you, it's only a matter of time until you get munched.

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Something has to be at the top of the food chain,

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an animal big enough and mean enough to take on all comers -

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the pike.

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But to get down into the world of this fearsome fish hunter, I'm going

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to need all of this kit - scuba tanks and this massive camera

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which weighs more than our actual cameraman.

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With our kit assembled and our safety checks complete, it's time

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to take the plunge and begin the hunt for our murky monster.

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'The bottom of the lake contains numerous old wrecks

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'which can contain excellent hunting grounds for our pike.

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'So even if it is a little spooky, they're definitely worth exploring.'

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The water in here is incredibly murky. You really can't see

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more than two or three metres in any direction.

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But obviously, that works very much on the side of an ambush hunter.

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There's just an infinite amount of places to hide.

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They could be anywhere.

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'That won't make them easy to find.

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'Pike may be big, but they generally live solitary lives and don't need

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'to feed very often. Just seeing one will be a real treat.'

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I thought I'd come across an enormous pike, but it's not at all.

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It's a big old carp.

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This stripy fish is a perch.

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They're actually predators in their own right.

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They're very strong and very fast,

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but they're no match for a pike.

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In fact, these perch would be exactly the kind of thing

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that pike would be feeding on.

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That's probably why they're hiding down in the weeds.

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'Finding one of our pike's favourite fishy foods is a really good sign,

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'for where there's food, there's often a predator not far away.'

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So...this is the fearsome water wolf

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that we've come into this lake to find.

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It's a pike,

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and an absolute beauty!

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This is actually a really good size for a pike in British waters,

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but it's by no means as big as they actually really get.

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The biggest females ever caught have

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been one and a half metres long, so about half as big again as this one.

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It's hard to believe that an awesome predator like this is just hanging

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beneath the surface,

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possibly every time you go out onto a stream

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or a lake or a river here in the UK.

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The pike is shaped more like a torpedo than your everyday fish,

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with a long, muscular body

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perfectly adapted for quick bursts of speed.

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The small fins on the bottom are

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used for fine adjustments, allowing the pike to hide almost motionless.

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The big ones are like engines at the back

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and with a powerful flick of the tail,

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give the pike its incredible acceleration.

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So whether you're a fellow fish, small bird

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or even a fluffy water vole,

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you'll end up getting sucked into those mighty jaws and impaled

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on a mass of spiky pike teeth.

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When I was a kid, I used to think that, if I went into

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a lake or a river, I'd get munched by a pike.

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There's another one in here, look. Just a smaller one.

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'I can't believe I've seen two pike in one dive.

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'That's fantastic!

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'But then, through the gloom, I spot something even bigger.'

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It's huge! Look at the size of it!

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'This is really exciting, but we're going to have

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'to take great care not to startle it.'

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This would certainly have to be

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the biggest pike I've seen so far.

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She's absolutely gigantic, and just sitting waiting,

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absolutely motionless.

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Look at that!

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Nose to nose

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with the largest predatory fish in Britain's fresh waters.

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With that stillness and the colouration down the side of

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her body, she totally disappears,

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but any small fish that swims too close to those mighty jaws

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with their spiky, backward-pointing teeth is in big trouble.

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You are utterly incredible!

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They really are a nightmare fish

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and they're really not frightened of anything.

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Who would've believed that you could have such a dramatic

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wildlife encounter in a murky green lake in the middle of England?

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That was absolutely brilliant.

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I don't think I'm going to have to sell pike to you as being menacing.

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I mean, they just look like trouble.

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But one thing is for absolute certain -

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pike are...

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What are they?

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On the Deadly 60!

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Back of the net!

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A supreme camouflaged killer that melts into the murky waters

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with a muscular tail that unleashes ferocious acceleration

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and a mouth full of needle-like teeth that would scare the stuffing

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out of a pincushion.

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Moving from England's fresh-water war zones,

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we're taking to the Scottish skies and to where the eagle is king.

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And not just any eagle.

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This is a white-tailed sea eagle, and it's huge.

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This aerial master can have a wingspan of up to eight feet.

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That's as tall as me standing with my hands in the air.

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It uses those remarkable wings to soar high above its coastal range,

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while its super-sharp eyesight

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can scan the seas looking for its favourite food -

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fish. When it's not plucking

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fish from the water or squabbling over leftovers,

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it'll happily use those ferocious talons to snatch sea birds

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from their cliff-top homes, or even chase down the occasional rabbit.

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It'll then take its catch to dry land or back to its hungry chicks,

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where that menacing, meat-cleaver-shaped beak

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will rip and tear the flesh into manageable tasty chunks.

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But none of this would be possible without that

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sensational flying ability.

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I want to examine that further, but it'd be near impossible

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to do that out in the wild, so I'm in a studio in Bristol.

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There's a sound man down there.

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This is, though, a very special studio,

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and I've got with me a very special actor.

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This is Sasha. He's a tawny eagle that's found in Africa or Asia.

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To be honest, if we tried to get a white-tailed eagle in here,

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I think it would probably have savaged all of us,

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and it might have been a bit too big, but he is absolutely perfect.

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You see, Sasha is very well trained indeed. He's been in movies

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and music videos, and he's exactly right for what I want to show you.

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So how am I going to use a film-star bird

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and a television studio to show you how eagles fly?

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Well, I haven't actually told you the full story.

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This here is a wind tunnel, and any second now, someone's going to press

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a green button and wind is going to start racing through here at about

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20-25mph, and Sasha here is going to show us what eagles do best.

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OK, Mike, let her rip.

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And I can just feel the wind beginning to build now,

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and the first thing that Sasha does is go from sitting vertically on

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my fist to her body going horizontal and the wings spreading.

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OK, now what we're seeing really is

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the kind of classic pose of an eagle gliding.

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The wings are almost at full stretch now.

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You can see the flight feathers,

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the primary flight feathers,

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almost like fingers at the end of the wings.

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These feathers here called alula feathers.

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They're the ones making the micro-adjustments to keep him stable

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so he has to use no force, no effort at all.

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He hasn't even once had to flap his wings to keep in this position.

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And now, even though I've still got a hold of him,

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he's totally weightless.

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Right, let's see him in action.

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Whether it's gliding, accelerating or swooping to snatch those fish

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from the water, those wings do it all.

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I want to see a white-tailed sea eagle hunting in the wild,

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and for that, the Deadly 60 team and I are going to head north,

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right up north to the Isle of Mull off the coast of Scotland.

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We're heading to the local harbour with eagle expert Dave from the RSPB

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when we spot what we think is an eagle high up in the trees.

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Oh, yeah.

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The thing that really sets this bird apart

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from the other birds of prey you find in this area is just

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the scale, the size of the beak.

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And the colour as well. I mean, it is really dramatic.

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Gives it the look of a...

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almost a cartoon eagle.

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It just doesn't look real.

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'And as if one wasn't enough...'

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Oh, that is just spectacular.

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THEY CALL

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-Do you like that?

-Absolutely brilliant, yep.

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-That's a yes.

-A real duet.

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What a great opportunity to get a look

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at that menacing beak and talons.

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But I need to see them in action, and we've got a boat to catch.

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Something about this place looks oddly familiar.

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So what's the story, guys?

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Wouldn't you like to know?!

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# What's the story in Balamory Where would you like to go? #

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That's right, I'm in Balamory.

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Well, in real life, it's actually called Tobermory.

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Anyway, our fishing boat's arrived, so with no time to waste,

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we kit up and head out onto the water to find our eagles.

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# Just don't let me down

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# Hold onto your kite and just don't let me down. #

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OK, so we have seen our first eagle, but let's face it,

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the real place that you want to come across a sea eagle is at sea.

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I guess this is the most perfect backdrop you could ever hope for,

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and it's not just me. Everybody else in the crew has got

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their fingers crossed that we see one.

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We've come to a spot where we know that there's a sea-eagle nest

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and in fact, up in these trees up here, we've already spotted with

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our binoculars two adult birds and one fairly young chick.

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In order to see them hunting, we need to attract their attention,

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and we're going to do that using this.

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Now, I know that eagles don't eat bread but gulls do.

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When the gulls come in and start feeding on it,

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hopefully that'll bring in our eagles.

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'They're pretty crafty creatures. Within minutes we're being mobbed

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'by greedy gulls eager to snatch a free meal.'

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-Shall I get some fish in?

-Yeah.

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'Hopefully the commotion will have got our eagles' attention,

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'so now we throw in some of their favourite food.'

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Their sight might be as much as eight times

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more powerful than ours, so to be able to see all this commotion,

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all these gulls, all the food from there is pretty easy for an eagle.

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Now all we have to do is hope that he can see the fish.

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'Through our binoculars, we can see that they're interested,

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'but not enough to take to the air.

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'What's more, all our fish are getting gobbled up by those gulls.

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'Just one thing left to try.'

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This is our last opportunity.

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Surely no hungry eagle can resist a fish supper that big.

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He's coming, he's coming. The eagle's coming.

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-Got him, Mark?

-Got him.

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He's got that fish in his sights.

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-Where are we looking, then?

-Above the dead trees. Very close now.

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Yes. Oh, I see, I see.

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Oh, there is an incredible purpose about his movement now, actually.

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Look at the size of it!

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-Here he comes.

-Whoa, wow, look at that!

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Yes!

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Amazing!

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Just snatched a piece of fish right off the surface of the water,

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the classic sea-eagle catch.

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Have you got it?

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'Not many people can say that they've seen that.

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'The white-tailed eagle has officially earned its place

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'on my Deadly 60.'

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Those incredible wings enable it to effortlessly

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pluck fish from the water.

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An enormous meat cleaver shaped beak

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and incredible eyesight,

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eight times more powerful than ours.

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Next stop on our Deadly 60 whirlwind tour.

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We're in the beautiful British countryside,

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but what could possibly be deadly here?

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People often ask me what the number-one predator in the world is.

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If you're talking statistics, there's one creature

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that wins hands down. They eat more than any other carnivore.

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The weight of insects that they eat in one year is about

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the same as the weight of the whole human population of England.

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If you're wondering why I'm thrashing around

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with this crazy white net, well...

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I'll show you.

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Have a look at this.

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I think I've probably got

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maybe ten, fifteen different species of spider in here,

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but that is absolutely nothing.

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Here in England, we have about 700 different species of spiders,

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and in Westonbirt Arboretum where I am now there could be

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as many as 1,200 million spiders.

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That's an awful lot of creatures catching insects.

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Whether you like it or not,

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spiders are all around you, from your garden flower beds to

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the nooks and crannies in your house.

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As you go about your business, they peer through your plug-holes and

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scuttle around under your sofas.

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They're everywhere and, lucky for us, all of them are

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experts at one thing - catching, killing and eating insects.

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Spiders employ loads of weird and wonderful methods to do this.

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Some sit and wait until something strays a little too close...

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..others have bizarre mouth parts that work like glue guns,

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firing out sticky threads to ensnare their prey,

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while many more will simply use brute strength.

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The variety is both beautiful and amazing, but I've chosen two

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of the best as contenders for my list.

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One's a web-weaving master, but first up is the king of camouflage.

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And getting you close is going to require some specialist kit.

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Spiders have a huge variety of methods for catching their prey,

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but the crab spider uses camouflage.

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She'll sit in the centre of a flower like this, using the small rear legs

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to hold her in position and the front two legs to grab a hold

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of prey that comes too close.

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Flowers are a perfect place for her to hide,

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not just because she's camouflaged in the same colours,

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but they also attract insects like butterflies, bees and wasps.

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As soon as they come too close, she'll grab them, pin them down

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and fill them with venom, and then it's all over.

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Get a load of this.

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Crab spiders have taken camouflage to a whole new level

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to fool their prey.

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Insects see the world quite differently to us,

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and many flowers will attract them by using bright lines and patches

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that we can only see with the help of an ultraviolet camera.

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The bees get a tasty nectar meal and the plants get their pollen

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spread about from flower to flower.

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As our bee-vision camera shows, the canny crab spider's bright bottom

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actually attracts the bees.

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They fix their eight eyes on the approaching target and then...

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Bang!

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They grab the bee with their front legs

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and sink their fangs into the body.

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The venom works quickly, leaving our spider with a juicy bee breakfast.

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The crab spider...

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crafty, cunning, camouflaged killer, and definitely on the Deadly 60.

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It's the camouflage king of the garden,

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with a bright bottom to fool the busiest of bees,

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powerful front legs to snap up its prey,

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and a venom-loaded bite.

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Spider number two is probably nature's finest architect.

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Their handiwork is all around us, and I've found a perfect example.

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This is the web of the orb-weaver spider.

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At the moment, she's scuttling around her web,

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I think repairing it,

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putting in a sticky thread which is used to catch insects on the wing.

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It's an incredibly difficult, complex task

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which takes about an hour

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and, at the moment, you can see her moving up and down the spokes

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and just trailing behind her

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a sticky thread which is forming a perfect spiral.

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That trap will catch any insect that flies into it.

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Yes, look at that! This has to be one of the most perfect

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hunting methods you'll ever see

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and, personally, I think it needs a little bit more examination.

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It'd be easy for us to take spiders' webs for granted.

0:21:380:21:41

We see them pretty much every day, and it takes a spider

0:21:410:21:44

less than an hour to make one.

0:21:440:21:46

But we don't take anything in the natural world for granted,

0:21:460:21:50

so I'm going to try and build one of these miracles of nature

0:21:500:21:53

myself right here in this woodland.

0:21:530:21:55

It takes a spider nothing more than her own spinnerets

0:21:550:21:58

and some silk to do her web.

0:21:580:21:59

For me, it's going to take all of this kit

0:21:590:22:03

and it's going to take rather more than an hour.

0:22:030:22:06

Spiders don't learn how to build their webs.

0:22:070:22:10

It's completely instinctive. Even the smallest of spiderlings

0:22:100:22:13

can still build an absolutely perfect web, but that doesn't mean

0:22:130:22:17

it's not still a very complex and intricate process.

0:22:170:22:20

But it starts very simply.

0:22:200:22:21

Our female spider simply gets herself up high.

0:22:210:22:25

So, for our spider, the first part of the process is to get up into

0:22:320:22:35

a really high vantage point and then just let silk drift

0:22:350:22:39

out from her spinnerets. The wind will carry it, and hopefully it'll

0:22:390:22:43

fix onto something good and strong.

0:22:430:22:46

Obviously I can't do that, but I have got the world's best catapult.

0:22:460:22:50

I'm going to try and fire this line across to that other tree,

0:22:500:22:55

and hopefully that can be our starting point.

0:22:550:22:58

OK... here goes.

0:22:580:23:01

Yes!

0:23:040:23:06

Bull's eye!

0:23:060:23:07

I am the catapult master!

0:23:070:23:11

Now, obviously this thin thread isn't strong enough to hold my

0:23:110:23:15

body weight. What I need to do is to get a much stronger line

0:23:150:23:19

across there, and once that's done we can start on the framework.

0:23:190:23:23

So our spider's made herself

0:23:230:23:28

the first main structural thread of the web.

0:23:280:23:32

Next thing she does is come back out to the centre point of it

0:23:320:23:36

and head down to the ground.

0:23:360:23:38

OK.

0:23:460:23:48

The main structural, strongest part of the web

0:23:480:23:53

is almost like the spokes on a bicycle wheel,

0:23:530:23:58

and it starts with this Y-shaped structure

0:23:580:24:02

right here in the centre.

0:24:020:24:04

And now we have to put in all the other spokes.

0:24:040:24:08

That's no mean feat, I can assure you,

0:24:080:24:11

but with a few helpers and a bit of TV magic...

0:24:110:24:14

easy!

0:24:140:24:16

Right, now the fun bit begins.

0:24:160:24:19

The next part of the build is that characteristic spiral

0:24:190:24:23

that you see running round and round and round the web.

0:24:230:24:26

Our spider will do that several times.

0:24:260:24:28

The first one is like a scaffolding spiral, and the next

0:24:280:24:31

two times are going to be the sticky, glue-covered thread

0:24:310:24:34

that's going to actually catch insects.

0:24:340:24:37

If I tried to do it three times,

0:24:370:24:38

I would be here all week, so I'm just going to do it once,

0:24:380:24:41

and that on its own, I think's going to take me all day.

0:24:410:24:44

As I get towards the outside of the web, it will take me

0:24:520:24:55

probably ten or fifteen minutes just to do one spoke,

0:24:550:24:59

and that would be enough

0:24:590:25:00

for our orb-weaver to actually put a spiral through her entire web.

0:25:000:25:05

I have to say I'm feeling quite proud of myself.

0:25:260:25:29

It's taken 900 metres of rope,

0:25:290:25:33

two whole days of sweat and effort,

0:25:330:25:37

but finally my epic spider web's done.

0:25:370:25:40

Of course, for our orb-weaver spider, this whole process

0:25:400:25:43

takes less than an hour and next to no effort at all.

0:25:430:25:46

As soon as she's finished she heads to a spot

0:25:460:25:49

where she can sense the tiniest vibration on the web,

0:25:490:25:52

and quite often that's right slap bang in the centre.

0:25:520:25:55

With trap set, the orb-weaver spreads her legs out over the spokes

0:25:560:26:00

and waits for vibrations rippling across her silk.

0:26:000:26:04

These tiny tremors travel up her legs and are detected

0:26:040:26:07

in special sense organs.

0:26:070:26:10

This fly's days are probably numbered.

0:26:100:26:14

Struggling not only alerts the hungry female but makes it

0:26:140:26:17

more entangled in her trap.

0:26:170:26:19

Our spider comes in to inspect her lunch.

0:26:190:26:23

She injects a paralysing venom and then produces a new type of thread

0:26:230:26:28

in which to wrap it up.

0:26:280:26:29

It's like a strong silken shroud

0:26:300:26:33

and entombs the insect into a neat packed lunch.

0:26:330:26:37

It's not pretty but there's no doubt it's deadly.

0:26:390:26:43

Orb-weaver spiders are creatures that surround us

0:26:440:26:47

almost all the time but you barely ever notice them.

0:26:470:26:50

They're just going quietly about their job of hunting,

0:26:500:26:53

killing and eating.

0:26:530:26:55

It's all down to the wonders of their web,

0:26:550:26:57

the greatest insect trap on the planet.

0:26:570:27:01

Orb-weaver spiders are on the Deadly 60.

0:27:010:27:04

Using its sticky web to ensnare its prey,

0:27:060:27:10

with super-sensitive legs to pick up the tiniest tremors,

0:27:100:27:14

she pumps her prey full of venom and saves it for later.

0:27:140:27:18

'Join me next time...'

0:27:240:27:26

Look at that mouth! '.. for the Deadly 60.'

0:27:260:27:29

If I allow that to continue,

0:27:290:27:30

it will probably start breaking my hand bones. Ow!

0:27:300:27:33

Look at that!

0:27:330:27:35

They are tearing the meat to shreds.

0:27:350:27:39

Argh!

0:27:390:27:40

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:510:27:54

E-mail [email protected]

0:27:540:27:57

Steve and the Deadly 60 team are on their home turf, the UK. The adventure begins in a lake as Steve dives in to track down a deadly monster lurking in its depths. Then it's off to a wind tunnel to check out how eagles fly. Finally, Steve builds a giant web to demonstrate just what lethal killers spiders can be.


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