Naomi Wilkinson heads to the frozen forests of northern Finland to seek out more nightmares of nature, where she takes a plunge into a frozen river.
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Welcome to my Nightmares of Nature.
I'm Naomi Wilkinson...
..and I'm coming face-to-face with the nightmares of the animal world.
The ones that make your spine tingle...
..your heart beat faster...
..and your blood run cold!
Are they truly terrifying...
..or is there a twist in the tale?
Come with me as I shine a light on
wildlife's deepest, darkest secrets...
..and see if you can guess which will be my worst nightmare.
This time I'm on an arctic adventure
in the beautiful Scandinavian country of Finland.
It's a winter wonderland of fun for us! Hoo-hoo!
But the temperature is well below zero,
and that can make life out here a bone-shaking,
I'm in Northern Finland, just a snowball's throw
from the Arctic Circle, in a region more famously known as Lapland.
Up here, it's not just Santa Claus who makes his home in these woods.
Even in the depths of winter,
these frozen forests are home to some seriously tough creatures,
all being tested to their limits in these sub-zero temperatures.
In this episode I'll be meeting up with a snow-smashing,
aerial assassin of the arctic.
I'll have a run-in with a pack of polar pooches
with some seriously revolting habits.
Oh, it's pooing, it's pooing!
And my survival skills will be tested to the limit
on a sub-zero sleep over.
I can't breathe.
But nightmare number one.
Where do you find something to eat in all of this?
During winter, the larder is locked away
under a thick layer of snow and ice.
In fact, the only place not smothered is this -
a semi-frozen river.
But how on earth can you sniff out a snack here?
To find out more, I've met up with local wildlife photographer, Olli.
He knows of one tungsten-tough, ice-cool little bird that somehow
manages to find a feast here, even in the depths of winter.
But what bird could cope with this nightmare environment
and, more importantly, will we freeze waiting to see one?
Ooh, it's freezing on me bum!
We're in the perfect spot to see them in action
because Olli knows they breed here, under the shelter of this bridge.
-So there's a pair here.
-Yeah, it's a pair here.
-Ah, so they come back every year?
Olli seems confident, and he's right to be.
Just moments after we arrived...
-There's one, flying!
-Where, where, where?
-Just standing there on the stone.
-It's on the stone. Hello!
Oh, here they come, here they come!
Ah, look, there it is!
And the male is coming, the male is coming.
There's two of them and she's showing off.
And what bird is this?
That's a dipper.
Oh, look at that. You can see why it's called a dipper.
Can't stop dipping!
This bobbing little bird is a real river specialist,
and not just here in Finland.
It's found right across Europe, including back home in Britain.
So how on earth can they cope with this crippling cold?
They're lovely little birds.
Nice and round, but they've got very delicate legs.
They don't look very well suited to diving in icy waters.
They can dive. They use their wings,
like they are flying under the water somehow, like the penguins.
They really are perfectly at home in these icy torrents,
thanks to some cool adaptations.
Long claws on their feet help them cling on to the slipperiest surface.
And their dense feathers keep them warm and dry,
even when the outside temperature is down to minus 40.
And, as Olli said, once underwater they don't swim...they fly!
a protective membrane over their eyes acts like goggles.
They even have little flaps to cover their nostrils,
helping them stay under for up to 30 seconds.
But what's on the menu?
I have something for you.
This is the main food of the dipper.
-And what are these?
-Insect larvae. Have a look.
So this is the sort of thing the dipper is trying to spot
-and dive for?
Don't look very appetising, do they?
No! I haven't tasted, myself!
No. Don't fancy that.
They might not look terribly tasty, but there are plenty of them.
And with its watery adaptations,
the dipper has this feast pretty much to itself.
But big respect to it for coping so well with the chilling conditions.
That gave me an ice cream headache, watching those dippers in action.
That is one body-numbing nightmare.
They are tough, resilient little birds.
I say, rather them than me!
"Just like the dipper, you've got to go for a dip,
"and find your own tasty treats
"in the middle of this fast-flowing river.
"But don't worry you'll have similar kit to a dipper, to help you."
"Super-thick wet suit, hood, gloves and boots to keep you warm."
"Goggles to help you see above and below water,
"just like the dipper
"and nose peg to stop you snorting the water."
You're all heart!
I don't like getting in cold water!
Do I really have to do this?!
And it's not just the presenter who's struggling with the task ahead.
-Battery's died in the cold.
Ha-ha! The cold water's killed our camera!
-Is it THAT cold?
-It's THAT cold!
I don't want to play!
The crew set me the challenge of retrieving
my own tub of tasty treats from the riverbed.
Time to get this one over and done with.
Perhaps I can use the dipper's skills as inspiration!
Huh-huh! it's so cold!
Uh! Oh! What am I doing?
Oh! It takes your breath away, it really does.
OK, now, first thing a dipper will do
when foraging for food is stick its head under the water,
have a good look around with those powerful eyes
before it dives underneath
so that means I've got to put my face under the water!
Oh, here we go! Oh, come on.
Ow! Ow! That's so cold! Oh, that burns your skin. Ow!
There it is, there it is, there it is!
Right, so when the dipper's located its food, it then dives underwater.
I feel a bit hysterical, cos this is so stupid!
Right, here we go. I'm going to go and get my prize.
Can't find the...Oh!
Oh! Ha-ha! I got it, I got it!
This had better be something good!
Oh, good! It's a couple of chocolates and a rock, all covered in water!
I'm so glad I went to all that trouble for that!
I tell you what, what an amazing bird,
able to survive these icy torrents.
I mean, it's probably worth it for the dipper because they can find
plenty of food that helps see them through those cold winter months.
But this is a tough, tough, place to live.
I guess the question is,
is the breathtaking, bone-shaking life of the dipper
going to be my worst nightmare?
I'm SO cold! Can I do something a bit more fun now, please?!
Hey-hey-hey! Yes! This is more like it!
Using skidoos is the modern way of getting around
in this wintry wonderland.
But I'm off to meet a man who's way more at home
getting around in a traditional way.
Cool, thank you very much.
This is Susi.
SUSI MEWLS SOFTLY
Yes, he looks a little like Santa.
But no, he doesn't keep reindeer.
He's a husky fanatic.
Susi, lovely to meet you.
Welcome to my farm.
And your gorgeous dogs.
Yes, they are nice.
We have one nice team here.
Are they friendly?
They are nice and friendly. You can touch them.
You can kiss them.
His name is Oscar!
Oscar. What's so special about huskies, do you think?
You know they are sled dogs who are hard to work,
they are running fast.
They can go day after day.
They are amazing animal, and so nice and friendly.
On top of being great companions,
they are built to withstand the worst the winter can throw at them.
Their fur provides the perfect insulation.
And they can pull unbelievable loads,
powering through the snow with their broad feet and legendary stamina.
By working together, they make a premier polar team.
Like here we have one girl, one boy, they are the power dogs in the team.
-So power at the back.
-So Oscar and Opu.
Then in the middle we have Soda, they are the speed dogs,
-and helping keeping speed on in the team.
Speed in the middle, power at the back, who's at the front?
And there, in the top we need the brains.
Are these females?
They are females. Very often, females are better leaders.
Not always, but very often.
Never, never a truer word said!
You are adorable!
What on earth could be a nightmare about this happy, yappy bunch?
Time to find out, after a quick lesson of course!
Lean to the left when we have, bank to the left.
To the right when the dogs go to the right.
-Remember to brake when it's going downhill.
-And when you have to stop, stay with full weight on the brake.
And then there's one more important thing.
You know when the dogs are running
they can poo when they are running, so be careful with that!
What, so they don't stop even when they need to go?
No, they don't need to stop.
Aw! I was so looking forward to this, as well!
-Never mind. Off we go!
And we're off. Whoohoo!
How often do they poo?
Sometimes, and sometimes no.
Let's see if we are lucky!
-They really get up some speed, don't they?
-Six dogs - we're going so fast!
Well done, dogs. You're doing well, and no poos yet.
We're not far from their bottoms, that's the worry.
I'm dreading them doing a poo
because it might get kicked straight into our faces.
-Dog poo is not a good smell, is it?
What a way to travel.
But then the inevitable happened.
Uh-oh. The one at the front's I think's going.
Oh, it is, it is. Oh, there's poo coming out! Ugh!
Because it was the one at the front that did a poo,
-all the others then ran over it.
It doesn't take long for the track to become peppered with stinky poo.
I dread to think what might happen if you fell off!
Oh, dear. Disaster! I'm lost. I'm lost!
Wait for me!
Just worried I've got poo all over me now!
And if I hadn't, there was still plenty of time for THAT to happen!
Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Back left, back left.
Oh, it's pooing, it's pooing!
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Oh, shall we stop?
Just stop for it. A wee and a poo all at once!
Urgh, it's so smelly!
Oh, yuk! Hope I didn't just tread in it.
That is NOT a nice view!
That is not something I want to see from this angle!
So these racing huskies, they have to eat about 12,000 calories every day
to keep up this stamina, this speed and this power.
That's like me eating 24 burgers in a day.
so I guess what goes in, must come out.
This is so brilliant, though.
Whoo, and stop! Oh, wow!
So that was about 5km through deep snow in about 20 minutes!
That is a magical way of seeing this wintry world.
I mean, initially, yup, they look like
a slightly scary pack of wolves, but they are adorable!
And they work so hard.
But their toilet habits are utterly revolting.
And that's why this experience could be
a seriously strong-smelling contender for my worst nightmare.
Finland's forests are still home to some of the biggest
and baddest predators on the planet.
There are wolves,
lynx and probably the toughest of them all, the wolverine.
Now, it would be really rare to see these animals in the wild
because they're so fearful of people,
but I'm somewhere where there's a hunter that's a lot less camera-shy.
And it's up in the tree over there.
It's clearly great. It's very grey.
And it's obviously an owl, hence its name - the great grey owl.
It is enormous.
And it has really magical looks,
but it's actually a razor-clawed,
snow-smashing, vole-munching nightmare!
The great grey owl is a super-powered predator.
You can try, but there's nowhere to hide.
The feathers on its face funnel the faintest rustles of a rodent
hiding under the snow.
And with the target located, it's game over.
This Ninja of the North is the ultimate aerial assassin.
It might not look it, but this is a wild bird.
Over the last few weeks, people have been putting out bait
to tempt the bird a little closer so they can take photographs of it.
And I'm told it's become bold enough
that I might be able to see it hunt at very close quarters.
The crew install some cameras to hopefully give us
a vole's eye view of the owl in full hunting mode.
Time to get into position,
sit very still, and wait.
(Oh, it's looking, it's looking.)
I can see its big, round, dish face through the trees.
Yeah it's definitely seen the bait.
It's coming, it's coming, it's coming!
The view I had as it just soared in,
its massive, round face like a sawn-off log,
even with the rings that a tree has inside it.
And those piercing yellow eyes and massive wings.
That was amazing!
Amazing, yes. But it just got better
Here it comes, here it comes.
And this time, it decided to hang around!
(It's looking me straight in the eye.)
And it's tucking in.
Oh, down in one! Gobbled that up straight away.
Furry boots, jumping through the snow.
It looks really sweet until you see those needle-like talons,
then it doesn't look quite so sweet.
It's like a big fluffy toy, isn't it?
When the wind blows I can see how deep those feathers go.
Such thick plumage.
Oh! Dainty little footsteps.
(Yes, you've got it.)
(There's a piece by your foot, there's a piece by your foot.)
(Right by your foot.)
This is wicked.
You found it!
Are you my new friend?
Fancy coming back to England with me?
An unforgettable experience, but if I was a vole, I'd be very afraid.
You just imagine, you're hiding out under the snow,
minding your own business, then all of a sudden,
a giant flying monster like that smashes through your roof
and plucks you to your doom!
And for that reason, the great grey owl could fly away
with the title of my worst nightmare!
This far north, the temperature can be much colder
than the freezer in your kitchen.
And, whipped by bitter winds,
it's a place where only the hardiest survive.
But all the animals up here are perfectly built to withstand
the worst that the arctic weather can throw at them.
But even with a gorgeously thick coat of fur or feathers,
I can't help but feel a bit sorry for them,
having to spend the night out here.
Must be absolutely freezing!
Good job I've got a nice, warm hotel to go to tonight.
Oh, I might have a hot, relaxing bath. Maybe even a sauna!
Ow! I thought you were supposed to be nice!
"To experience what it is like for the wildlife, you'll be
"spending the night underneath the stars, in a snow shelter.
"No bath. No sauna. Just snow. Warm regards, the crew."
Well, that's just brrrilliant(!) What a nightmare!
Now, I may have built a snowman or two.
But I've never built a snow shelter in my life.
But this man has.
Chris is a survival specialist who knows exactly what's needed
to brave the freezing conditions.
So what have we got here? This must be some sort of igloo, is it?
Well, actually it's a quinze and er...
-Yeah, a quinze is a mound of snow. Stamp it down,
and then you start to hollow it out.
It's one of the best things to sleep in, if you're out in the Arctic.
And you need all the protection you can get.
What sort of temperatures can it reach out here?
Well, we can have temperatures down to about minus 45,
something like that.
So that would be a problem if I stayed out in that all night?
Yeah, it will be. A great problem.
You can freeze, yeah. So...
In one night, that could happen to me?
-In a matter of minutes. Yup...
..without the right clothes on.
But in here that's not going to happen?
No, it won't happen inside. Inside, you're fine. Warm as toast.
When you say "really warm", how warm?
Well, about minus one or two.
Anything that's got a minus in front of it,
I don't describe as really warm!
That sounds cold.
It's quite a tight squeeze!
I can just about sit up in there.
Shall we dig a bit more? Make it a bit bigger?
It might not seem that sensible sleeping under the snow,
but many arctic animals use this strategy, too.
Snow is a very good insulator,
and animals like voles
and weasels spend the winter hiding away
in what's called the subnivian layer, where, out of the wind,
the temperature remains a balmy minus one or two.
Only problem is, I'm a little bigger than a vole!
Ooh, it's not even long enough for me to lie out straight.
Ow! I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy this.
And this is it? Is it done? It's a bit cold.
We'll have an insulation layer, layer of insulation.
Then we'll have a reindeer skin here.
Then your thermal sleeping bag.
Oh, I'm going to be boiling!
Down to minus 30, so you'll be fine.
OK. Yeah, I'll... Going to leave me to it?
-I'll leave you to it. Well, sleep well and...
-..no nightmares, eh?!
I think the chance of having nightmares would be a fine thing.
As night falls, so does the temperature.
Question is, will I freeze my socks off?
"Having a lovely time in Finland.
"It's a bit cold, though."
Just give you a little tour of my quinze.
I've now got a cosy reindeer skin that I'm lying on.
On a layer of insulating plastic to keep me off the snow.
Got my nice, cosy down sleeping bag.
Pillow, of course.
I could sleep like a baby!
Actually, babies don't sleep very much, do they?
I think I might sleep just like a baby.
Ah! Think of sunbathing on a desert island.
Sitting by a nice hot fire.
This could be a long night.
Well, actually quite an enjoyable experience, surprisingly.
I think I must have got about six hours' sleep on and off,
once I got rid of all the lumps and found a nice comfortable spot.
That was the most tricky bit, but it was not cold at all.
In fact, I was quite toasty in that sleeping bag,
maybe just a little bit cold on my nose.
But all in all, a very unique, totally different experience
and there is no way I can call this my worst nightmare.
And just to prove that a night in these frozen forests
can be dream-like...
..I got to see something utterly unforgettable -
the Northern Lights.
Always wanted to see the Northern Lights.
Tonight my dreams come true.
My adventures here in the frozen forests of Finland
are coming to an end.
I've had a feast of winter wildlife watching
and met an amazing cast of sub-zero survivors.
But which nightmare has left me the most chilled to the bone?
Was it my sleepover in the snow?
No. Absolutely loved that. Wasn't cold at all.
Oh, it's quite a tight squeeze!
Or was it my sledding adventure with those marathon mutts,
who like to go in the snow?
Or will that be pushed to number two?!
I'm dreading them doing a poo
because it might get kicked straight into our faces.
Oh, it's pooing, it's pooing!
Or was it my close encounter with the snow-smashing
aerial assassin, the great grey owl?
It's coming, it's coming, it's coming, it's coming!
If I was a vole, I would be very frightened of these animals.
No, it was none of those.
My worst nightmare here was definitely my sub-zero swim,
dipping like a dipper.
Ow! Ow! That's so cold!
That was a finger-freezing, heart-stopping, skin-burning,
All being tested to their limits in these sub-zero temperatures.
I told you I was a bad shot!
Naomi Wilkinson heads to the frozen forests of northern Finland to seek out more nightmares of nature. She takes the plunge into a frozen river to experience the chilling life of a tungsten-tough little bird, the dipper. She also takes a ride with a pack of seriously stinky huskies who like to go in the snow, and goes eyeball to eyeball with a snow-smashing giant of the arctic, the great grey owl. And her survival skills are tested to the limit on a sleepover in the snow.