Finland Naomi's Nightmares of Nature


Finland

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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Transcript


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Welcome to my Nightmares of Nature.

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DOG HOWLS

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I'm Naomi Wilkinson...

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Whoohoo!

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..and I'm coming face-to-face with the nightmares of the animal world.

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The ones that make your spine tingle...

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..your heart beat faster...

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SNARLING

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..and your blood run cold!

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Are they truly terrifying...

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..or is there a twist in the tale?

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Come with me as I shine a light on

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wildlife's deepest, darkest secrets...

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..and see if you can guess which will be my worst nightmare.

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This time I'm on an arctic adventure

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in the beautiful Scandinavian country of Finland.

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Whoo!

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Whoo!

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It's a winter wonderland of fun for us! Hoo-hoo!

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But the temperature is well below zero,

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and that can make life out here a bone-shaking,

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teeth-chattering nightmare.

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I'm in Northern Finland, just a snowball's throw

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from the Arctic Circle, in a region more famously known as Lapland.

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Up here, it's not just Santa Claus who makes his home in these woods.

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Even in the depths of winter,

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these frozen forests are home to some seriously tough creatures,

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all being tested to their limits in these sub-zero temperatures.

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In this episode I'll be meeting up with a snow-smashing,

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aerial assassin of the arctic.

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I'll have a run-in with a pack of polar pooches

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with some seriously revolting habits.

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Oh, it's pooing, it's pooing!

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And my survival skills will be tested to the limit

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on a sub-zero sleep over.

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I can't breathe.

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SHE LAUGHS

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But nightmare number one.

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Where do you find something to eat in all of this?

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During winter, the larder is locked away

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under a thick layer of snow and ice.

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In fact, the only place not smothered is this -

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a semi-frozen river.

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But how on earth can you sniff out a snack here?

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To find out more, I've met up with local wildlife photographer, Olli.

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He knows of one tungsten-tough, ice-cool little bird that somehow

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manages to find a feast here, even in the depths of winter.

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But what bird could cope with this nightmare environment

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and, more importantly, will we freeze waiting to see one?

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Ooh, it's freezing on me bum!

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OLLI LAUGHS

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We're in the perfect spot to see them in action

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because Olli knows they breed here, under the shelter of this bridge.

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-So there's a pair here.

-Yeah, it's a pair here.

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-Ah, so they come back every year?

-Every year.

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Olli seems confident, and he's right to be.

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Just moments after we arrived...

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-There's one, flying!

-Where, where, where?

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-Just standing there on the stone.

-Ah, yes!

-It's on the stone. Hello!

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Oh, here they come, here they come!

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Ah, look, there it is!

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And the male is coming, the male is coming.

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There's two of them and she's showing off.

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And what bird is this?

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That's a dipper.

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-A Dipper?

-Dipper, yes.

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Oh, look at that. You can see why it's called a dipper.

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Can't stop dipping!

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This bobbing little bird is a real river specialist,

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and not just here in Finland.

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It's found right across Europe, including back home in Britain.

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So how on earth can they cope with this crippling cold?

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They're lovely little birds.

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Nice and round, but they've got very delicate legs.

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They don't look very well suited to diving in icy waters.

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They can dive. They use their wings,

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like they are flying under the water somehow, like the penguins.

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They really are perfectly at home in these icy torrents,

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thanks to some cool adaptations.

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Long claws on their feet help them cling on to the slipperiest surface.

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And their dense feathers keep them warm and dry,

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even when the outside temperature is down to minus 40.

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And, as Olli said, once underwater they don't swim...they fly!

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When submerged,

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a protective membrane over their eyes acts like goggles.

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They even have little flaps to cover their nostrils,

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helping them stay under for up to 30 seconds.

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But what's on the menu?

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I have something for you.

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This is the main food of the dipper.

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-And what are these?

-Insect larvae. Have a look.

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So this is the sort of thing the dipper is trying to spot

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-and dive for?

-Yes.

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Don't look very appetising, do they?

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No! I haven't tasted, myself!

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No. Don't fancy that.

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They might not look terribly tasty, but there are plenty of them.

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And with its watery adaptations,

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the dipper has this feast pretty much to itself.

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But big respect to it for coping so well with the chilling conditions.

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That gave me an ice cream headache, watching those dippers in action.

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That is one body-numbing nightmare.

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They are tough, resilient little birds.

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I say, rather them than me!

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Oh, no.

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"Just like the dipper, you've got to go for a dip,

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"and find your own tasty treats

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"in the middle of this fast-flowing river.

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"But don't worry you'll have similar kit to a dipper, to help you."

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Oh, good(!)

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"Super-thick wet suit, hood, gloves and boots to keep you warm."

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Yeah, right(!)

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"Goggles to help you see above and below water,

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"just like the dipper

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"and nose peg to stop you snorting the water."

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You're all heart!

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I don't like getting in cold water!

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Do I really have to do this?!

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And it's not just the presenter who's struggling with the task ahead.

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-What?

-Battery's died in the cold.

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Ha-ha! The cold water's killed our camera!

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-Is it THAT cold?

-It's THAT cold!

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SHE WHEEZES

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I don't want to play!

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The crew set me the challenge of retrieving

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my own tub of tasty treats from the riverbed.

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Time to get this one over and done with.

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Perhaps I can use the dipper's skills as inspiration!

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Huh-huh! it's so cold!

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Ugh!

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Uh! Oh! What am I doing?

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Oh! It takes your breath away, it really does.

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OK, now, first thing a dipper will do

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when foraging for food is stick its head under the water,

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have a good look around with those powerful eyes

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before it dives underneath

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so that means I've got to put my face under the water!

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Ha-ha!

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Oh, here we go! Oh, come on.

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Ow! Ow! That's so cold! Oh, that burns your skin. Ow!

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There it is, there it is, there it is!

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Right, so when the dipper's located its food, it then dives underwater.

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Ha-ha! Right.

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I feel a bit hysterical, cos this is so stupid!

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Right, here we go. I'm going to go and get my prize.

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Can't find the...Oh!

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Ow!

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Oh! Ha-ha! I got it, I got it!

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Ugh!

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SHE GASPS

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This had better be something good!

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Oh, good! It's a couple of chocolates and a rock, all covered in water!

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I'm so glad I went to all that trouble for that!

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I tell you what, what an amazing bird,

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able to survive these icy torrents.

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I mean, it's probably worth it for the dipper because they can find

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plenty of food that helps see them through those cold winter months.

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But this is a tough, tough, place to live.

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I guess the question is,

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is the breathtaking, bone-shaking life of the dipper

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going to be my worst nightmare?

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I'm SO cold! Can I do something a bit more fun now, please?!

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Hey-hey-hey! Yes! This is more like it!

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Using skidoos is the modern way of getting around

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in this wintry wonderland.

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But I'm off to meet a man who's way more at home

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getting around in a traditional way.

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Let's go!

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Cool, thank you very much.

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DOGS YELP

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This is Susi.

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SUSI MEWLS SOFTLY

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Yes, he looks a little like Santa.

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But no, he doesn't keep reindeer.

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He's a husky fanatic.

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-Hey!

-Ah, hello.

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Susi, lovely to meet you.

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Welcome to my farm.

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And your gorgeous dogs.

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Yes, they are nice.

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We have one nice team here.

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Are they friendly?

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They are nice and friendly. You can touch them.

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You can kiss them.

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Hello! Hello!

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His name is Oscar!

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Oscar. What's so special about huskies, do you think?

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You know they are sled dogs who are hard to work,

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they are running fast.

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They can go day after day.

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They are amazing animal, and so nice and friendly.

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On top of being great companions,

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they are built to withstand the worst the winter can throw at them.

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Their fur provides the perfect insulation.

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And they can pull unbelievable loads,

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powering through the snow with their broad feet and legendary stamina.

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By working together, they make a premier polar team.

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Like here we have one girl, one boy, they are the power dogs in the team.

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-So power at the back.

-So Oscar and Opu.

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Then in the middle we have Soda, they are the speed dogs,

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-and helping keeping speed on in the team.

-Right.

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Speed in the middle, power at the back, who's at the front?

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And there, in the top we need the brains.

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-The brains?

-Yes!

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Are these females?

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They are females. Very often, females are better leaders.

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Not always, but very often.

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Never, never a truer word said!

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You are adorable!

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What on earth could be a nightmare about this happy, yappy bunch?

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Time to find out, after a quick lesson of course!

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-Be relax!

-Relaxed.

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Lean to the left when we have, bank to the left.

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To the right when the dogs go to the right.

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-Remember to brake when it's going downhill.

-Press that.

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-And when you have to stop, stay with full weight on the brake.

-OK.

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And then there's one more important thing.

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You know when the dogs are running

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they can poo when they are running, so be careful with that!

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What, so they don't stop even when they need to go?

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No, they don't need to stop.

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Aw! I was so looking forward to this, as well!

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-Never mind. Off we go!

-OK.

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And we're off. Whoohoo!

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How often do they poo?

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Nobody knows.

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Sometimes, and sometimes no.

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Let's see if we are lucky!

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Here's hoping!

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-They really get up some speed, don't they?

-Yes.

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-Six dogs - we're going so fast!

-Yes.

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Well done, dogs. You're doing well, and no poos yet.

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We're not far from their bottoms, that's the worry.

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THEY LAUGH

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I'm dreading them doing a poo

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because it might get kicked straight into our faces.

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SUSI LAUGHS

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-Dog poo is not a good smell, is it?

-No!

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What a way to travel.

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But then the inevitable happened.

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Uh-oh. The one at the front's I think's going.

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Oh, it is, it is. Oh, there's poo coming out! Ugh!

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Because it was the one at the front that did a poo,

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-all the others then ran over it.

-Yeah.

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It doesn't take long for the track to become peppered with stinky poo.

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I dread to think what might happen if you fell off!

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SHE GIGGLES

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Oh, dear. Disaster! I'm lost. I'm lost!

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Wait for me!

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Oh, no!

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Just worried I've got poo all over me now!

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And if I hadn't, there was still plenty of time for THAT to happen!

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Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Back left, back left.

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Oh, it's pooing, it's pooing!

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Whoa, whoa, whoa. Oh, shall we stop?

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Just stop for it. A wee and a poo all at once!

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Ugh!

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Urgh, it's so smelly!

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Oh, yuk! Hope I didn't just tread in it.

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That is NOT a nice view!

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That is not something I want to see from this angle!

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SHE LAUGHS

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Eech!

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So these racing huskies, they have to eat about 12,000 calories every day

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to keep up this stamina, this speed and this power.

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That's like me eating 24 burgers in a day.

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so I guess what goes in, must come out.

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This is so brilliant, though.

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Whoo!

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Whoo, and stop! Oh, wow!

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So that was about 5km through deep snow in about 20 minutes!

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That is a magical way of seeing this wintry world.

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I mean, initially, yup, they look like

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a slightly scary pack of wolves, but they are adorable!

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And they work so hard.

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But their toilet habits are utterly revolting.

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And that's why this experience could be

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a seriously strong-smelling contender for my worst nightmare.

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Finland's forests are still home to some of the biggest

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and baddest predators on the planet.

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There are wolves,

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brown bears,

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lynx and probably the toughest of them all, the wolverine.

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WOLVERINE SNARLS

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Now, it would be really rare to see these animals in the wild

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because they're so fearful of people,

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but I'm somewhere where there's a hunter that's a lot less camera-shy.

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And it's up in the tree over there.

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It's clearly great. It's very grey.

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And it's obviously an owl, hence its name - the great grey owl.

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It is enormous.

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And it has really magical looks,

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but it's actually a razor-clawed,

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snow-smashing, vole-munching nightmare!

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The great grey owl is a super-powered predator.

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You can try, but there's nowhere to hide.

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The feathers on its face funnel the faintest rustles of a rodent

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hiding under the snow.

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And with the target located, it's game over.

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This Ninja of the North is the ultimate aerial assassin.

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OWL HOOTS

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It might not look it, but this is a wild bird.

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Over the last few weeks, people have been putting out bait

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to tempt the bird a little closer so they can take photographs of it.

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And I'm told it's become bold enough

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that I might be able to see it hunt at very close quarters.

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The crew install some cameras to hopefully give us

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a vole's eye view of the owl in full hunting mode.

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Time to get into position,

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sit very still, and wait.

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(Oh, it's looking, it's looking.)

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I can see its big, round, dish face through the trees.

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Yeah it's definitely seen the bait.

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It's coming, it's coming, it's coming!

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Wow!

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The view I had as it just soared in,

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its massive, round face like a sawn-off log,

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even with the rings that a tree has inside it.

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And those piercing yellow eyes and massive wings.

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That was amazing!

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Amazing, yes. But it just got better

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and better.

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Here it comes, here it comes.

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And this time, it decided to hang around!

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(It's looking me straight in the eye.)

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Hello!

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And it's tucking in.

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Oh, down in one! Gobbled that up straight away.

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Furry boots, jumping through the snow.

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It looks really sweet until you see those needle-like talons,

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then it doesn't look quite so sweet.

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It's like a big fluffy toy, isn't it?

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When the wind blows I can see how deep those feathers go.

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Such thick plumage.

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Oh! Dainty little footsteps.

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(Pounce!)

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(Yes, you've got it.)

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(There's a piece by your foot, there's a piece by your foot.)

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(Right by your foot.)

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This is wicked.

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You found it!

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Well done.

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Are you my new friend?

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Fancy coming back to England with me?

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An unforgettable experience, but if I was a vole, I'd be very afraid.

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You just imagine, you're hiding out under the snow,

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minding your own business, then all of a sudden,

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a giant flying monster like that smashes through your roof

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and plucks you to your doom!

0:19:550:19:57

And for that reason, the great grey owl could fly away

0:19:570:20:01

with the title of my worst nightmare!

0:20:010:20:03

Wa-ay! Bye!

0:20:090:20:10

This far north, the temperature can be much colder

0:20:150:20:18

than the freezer in your kitchen.

0:20:180:20:20

And, whipped by bitter winds,

0:20:200:20:22

it's a place where only the hardiest survive.

0:20:220:20:25

But all the animals up here are perfectly built to withstand

0:20:270:20:31

the worst that the arctic weather can throw at them.

0:20:310:20:34

But even with a gorgeously thick coat of fur or feathers,

0:20:360:20:39

I can't help but feel a bit sorry for them,

0:20:390:20:41

having to spend the night out here.

0:20:410:20:43

Must be absolutely freezing!

0:20:430:20:45

Good job I've got a nice, warm hotel to go to tonight.

0:20:450:20:49

Oh, I might have a hot, relaxing bath. Maybe even a sauna!

0:20:490:20:53

Ow! I thought you were supposed to be nice!

0:20:530:20:56

"To experience what it is like for the wildlife, you'll be

0:20:560:20:59

"spending the night underneath the stars, in a snow shelter.

0:20:590:21:03

"No bath. No sauna. Just snow. Warm regards, the crew."

0:21:030:21:08

Well, that's just brrrilliant(!) What a nightmare!

0:21:080:21:11

Now, I may have built a snowman or two.

0:21:170:21:20

But I've never built a snow shelter in my life.

0:21:200:21:23

But this man has.

0:21:230:21:24

Hi, there!

0:21:250:21:27

Chris is a survival specialist who knows exactly what's needed

0:21:290:21:34

to brave the freezing conditions.

0:21:340:21:37

So what have we got here? This must be some sort of igloo, is it?

0:21:370:21:40

Well, actually it's a quinze and er...

0:21:400:21:43

-A quinze?

-Yeah, a quinze is a mound of snow. Stamp it down,

0:21:430:21:46

and then you start to hollow it out.

0:21:460:21:49

It's one of the best things to sleep in, if you're out in the Arctic.

0:21:490:21:53

And you need all the protection you can get.

0:21:530:21:56

What sort of temperatures can it reach out here?

0:21:560:21:59

Well, we can have temperatures down to about minus 45,

0:21:590:22:02

something like that.

0:22:020:22:03

So that would be a problem if I stayed out in that all night?

0:22:030:22:07

Yeah, it will be. A great problem.

0:22:070:22:09

You can freeze, yeah. So...

0:22:090:22:13

In one night, that could happen to me?

0:22:130:22:15

-In a matter of minutes. Yup...

-NO!

0:22:150:22:18

..without the right clothes on.

0:22:180:22:20

But in here that's not going to happen?

0:22:200:22:22

No, it won't happen inside. Inside, you're fine. Warm as toast.

0:22:220:22:26

When you say "really warm", how warm?

0:22:260:22:28

Well, about minus one or two.

0:22:280:22:29

Anything that's got a minus in front of it,

0:22:290:22:31

I don't describe as really warm!

0:22:310:22:34

That sounds cold.

0:22:340:22:35

It's quite a tight squeeze!

0:22:350:22:37

I can just about sit up in there.

0:22:390:22:42

Shall we dig a bit more? Make it a bit bigger?

0:22:420:22:44

It might not seem that sensible sleeping under the snow,

0:22:480:22:51

but many arctic animals use this strategy, too.

0:22:510:22:54

Snow is a very good insulator,

0:22:550:22:58

and animals like voles

0:22:580:23:00

and weasels spend the winter hiding away

0:23:000:23:03

in what's called the subnivian layer, where, out of the wind,

0:23:030:23:06

the temperature remains a balmy minus one or two.

0:23:060:23:09

Only problem is, I'm a little bigger than a vole!

0:23:100:23:13

Ooh, it's not even long enough for me to lie out straight.

0:23:140:23:18

Ow! I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy this.

0:23:190:23:22

And this is it? Is it done? It's a bit cold.

0:23:230:23:26

We'll have an insulation layer, layer of insulation.

0:23:260:23:28

Then we'll have a reindeer skin here.

0:23:280:23:30

Then your thermal sleeping bag.

0:23:320:23:34

Oh, I'm going to be boiling!

0:23:340:23:36

Down to minus 30, so you'll be fine.

0:23:360:23:39

-Good.

-Yeah.

-All right.

-OK.

0:23:390:23:42

OK. Yeah, I'll... Going to leave me to it?

0:23:420:23:44

-I'll leave you to it. Well, sleep well and...

-Thank you.

0:23:440:23:47

-..no nightmares, eh?!

-Hope not.

0:23:470:23:50

-Ha-ha!

-Goodnight!

0:23:500:23:53

I think the chance of having nightmares would be a fine thing.

0:23:530:23:56

As night falls, so does the temperature.

0:23:560:24:00

Question is, will I freeze my socks off?

0:24:000:24:04

"Dear Mum.

0:24:160:24:19

"Having a lovely time in Finland.

0:24:190:24:22

"It's a bit cold, though."

0:24:220:24:23

Just give you a little tour of my quinze.

0:24:260:24:29

Snow,

0:24:290:24:31

snow!

0:24:310:24:33

I've now got a cosy reindeer skin that I'm lying on.

0:24:350:24:40

On a layer of insulating plastic to keep me off the snow.

0:24:400:24:44

Got my nice, cosy down sleeping bag.

0:24:440:24:48

Pillow, of course.

0:24:480:24:50

I could sleep like a baby!

0:24:500:24:52

Actually, babies don't sleep very much, do they?

0:24:520:24:56

I think I might sleep just like a baby.

0:24:560:24:58

Ah! Think of sunbathing on a desert island.

0:24:590:25:03

Sitting by a nice hot fire.

0:25:030:25:06

SHE SIGHS

0:25:060:25:07

ECHOING: Radiators.

0:25:070:25:10

Hot chocolate.

0:25:100:25:11

This could be a long night.

0:25:130:25:15

OWL HOOTS

0:25:150:25:16

Good morning.

0:25:300:25:32

Well, actually quite an enjoyable experience, surprisingly.

0:25:320:25:37

I think I must have got about six hours' sleep on and off,

0:25:370:25:40

once I got rid of all the lumps and found a nice comfortable spot.

0:25:400:25:43

That was the most tricky bit, but it was not cold at all.

0:25:430:25:46

In fact, I was quite toasty in that sleeping bag,

0:25:460:25:49

maybe just a little bit cold on my nose.

0:25:490:25:52

But all in all, a very unique, totally different experience

0:25:520:25:56

and there is no way I can call this my worst nightmare.

0:25:560:25:59

And just to prove that a night in these frozen forests

0:26:010:26:05

can be dream-like...

0:26:050:26:06

..I got to see something utterly unforgettable -

0:26:090:26:14

the Northern Lights.

0:26:140:26:16

Always wanted to see the Northern Lights.

0:26:170:26:20

Tonight my dreams come true.

0:26:200:26:23

No nightmares.

0:26:230:26:24

Phew!

0:26:250:26:27

My adventures here in the frozen forests of Finland

0:26:410:26:44

are coming to an end.

0:26:440:26:46

I've had a feast of winter wildlife watching

0:26:460:26:48

and met an amazing cast of sub-zero survivors.

0:26:480:26:51

But which nightmare has left me the most chilled to the bone?

0:26:510:26:54

Was it my sleepover in the snow?

0:26:540:26:57

No. Absolutely loved that. Wasn't cold at all.

0:26:570:27:00

Oh, it's quite a tight squeeze!

0:27:000:27:03

Or was it my sledding adventure with those marathon mutts,

0:27:030:27:06

who like to go in the snow?

0:27:060:27:08

Or will that be pushed to number two?!

0:27:080:27:10

I'm dreading them doing a poo

0:27:100:27:12

because it might get kicked straight into our faces.

0:27:120:27:14

Oh, it's pooing, it's pooing!

0:27:140:27:17

Or was it my close encounter with the snow-smashing

0:27:170:27:20

aerial assassin, the great grey owl?

0:27:200:27:23

It's coming, it's coming, it's coming, it's coming!

0:27:230:27:27

If I was a vole, I would be very frightened of these animals.

0:27:280:27:31

No, it was none of those.

0:27:330:27:35

My worst nightmare here was definitely my sub-zero swim,

0:27:350:27:38

dipping like a dipper.

0:27:380:27:39

Urgh.

0:27:400:27:42

Ow! Ow! That's so cold!

0:27:420:27:45

That was a finger-freezing, heart-stopping, skin-burning,

0:27:450:27:48

teeth-chattering nightmare!

0:27:480:27:51

All being tested to their limits in these sub-zero temperatures.

0:27:550:27:59

Sorry!

0:28:020:28:05

LAUGHTER

0:28:050:28:08

I told you I was a bad shot!

0:28:080:28:10

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.


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