Gordon Buchanan takes household names on a wildlife adventure. Gordon and Sara are in Dartmoor, famed for its rugged landscape and tough little wild ponies.
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I'm Gordon Buchanan.
I've filmed the most amazing creatures on the planet.
These are animals that have killed people.
But for me, some of the best wildlife
is right here on our doorstep.
And I'd like some of our best-loved household names to experience it
as I do.
It's just awe-inspiring.
-God, that was unbelievable!
Oh, what an experience.
'I could spend weeks or even months tracking down these elusive creatures.
'This time, I have just three days.
'This could be the biggest challenge of my career.'
I'm in Dartmoor,
with someone you wouldn't normally associate with the natural world.
'Television presenter, radio DJ and once-legendary party girl.'
But Sara's moved on from her ladette days.
She grew up on a farm.
She's crazy about horses
and she has a real connection to the great outdoors.
When it comes to wildlife, what's your knowledge or wildlife interest?
I've got my robins... You know, "Booo!"
..that come to our back garden, so I put food out for them.
I've got some live mealworms that I kept in the fridge,
because they're dormant in the fridge, aren't they, the mealworms?
-And then they come alive...
-..when you put them
on the bird table, but then I started to feel really bad,
because they were like, "Ooh, this is nice! Where are we?
"Ooh, it's lovely!" and then they're like "Argh!" as the robins land.
So, you know, I love the birds in my garden and try and point
stuff out to the kids, but I don't really know what I'm on about.
I've been on holiday to Devon. I didn't know Dartmoor was in Devon.
I didn't strictly know where I was when I arrived.
Dartmoor is one of our national parks.
A unique, historical landscape of 400 square miles.
Over the next few days,
we'll be travelling across its wildest parts.
Today, we're on the lookout for bats and ponies.
Tomorrow, it's dormice and badgers, if we're lucky.
And I'd love to show Sara a beaver.
My dad's a bee farmer,
so I know a bit more about farming and about keeping animals.
But with wildlife, not much. I think it's an age thing.
Where now, I'm really taking more of an interest in the world around me
and I was thinking maybe it is, like, your 20s
for sort of growing up a bit and partying and your 30s are a bit of
partying, but mainly parenting, and now I'm 40,
-I kind of feel like I just want to learn stuff, which is weird.
-I mean, this space is amazing, isn't it? It's proper countryside.
But we've only got three days to track down these animals.
So let's get cracking.
-Right, Dartmoor. Do you know this part of the world?
Good, me too, because this is like going to a foreign country for me.
So here in Dartmoor, it's the largest area of
-relatively wild land...
-..in southern England.
I suppose for me, it's about picking a kind of relatively small area that
we can cover in a few days that has the most amount of opportunities.
I suppose one of the easiest animals to find... It's not a wild animal,
but it lives wild... Dartmoor ponies.
So you couldn't come to Dartmoor without looking for ponies.
But badgers, all these little woodlands, there's going to be
badgers roaming about here, which I would love to be able to show you.
-Are they building stuff all day, or is that just...in the cartoons?
They... No, they will build stuff when it needs to be built, but they're always kind of busy.
-They are busy, aren't they? Beavers are busy animals.
-They're "busy as a beaver".
-Is that an expression?
-It is now.
So, what's first?
The first thing that we should do is set up our little camp.
You always try and camp as close to the animals that
you want to see as possible.
-Let's get back in the car.
I'm hoping it won't be long before we come across our first animal.
They're Sara's favourite.
And a fairly common sight on Dartmoor.
I just love horses. I love riding so much, I love horses.
I feel like it's just part of who I am. Like, when I'm not riding,
I feel like there's a bit of the jigsaw missing.
So I'm always looking out for ponies or for horses, really.
-And I just like...
-There's one down there.
I can't believe you spotted it!
We're going off-road, because I want to get as close as we can.
Ooh, look at those beautiful ponies.
# Wolf mother, where you been?
# You look so worn, so thin
# You're a taker, devil's maker
# Let me hear you sing, hey-aye, hey-aye. #
Sara learned to ride when she was little.
It was just such a big part of my childhood,
just pootling around on the little fat farm pony, you know?
And I just feel like... I just love them.
Around 1,500 ponies live here on Dartmoor.
Over hundreds of years,
they've adapted to survive in this wild place.
And their grazing keeps the pasture healthy.
There's something very joyous about horses.
Just kind of like... I don't know, really majestic and kind of... noble beasts.
But they're also semi-feral and a bit unpredictable.
I think they've lost interest.
This is as close as we're going to get. For the time being anyway.
So, we're going to be camping somewhere sheltered, down there.
So our nearest neighbours are going to be these Dartmoor ponies.
-That's really lovely.
-They won't eat you or anything.
Wild camping is legal on most of Dartmoor.
And I just hope we manage to get our tents up
before it starts raining again.
You've obviously got a glamorous side to you, but you're not like...
Camping is not something that obviously terrifies you.
-You're quite up for it.
-No. Yeah, I'm totally up for it.
My heart is the beating heart of a tomboy, really.
When I was growing up, it very much was.
I still can't walk in high heels.
I'm much more comfortable in wellies or riding boots or trainers.
-This is beautiful.
-We'll be happy here.
Right, this big one...
..is the one that I'm...
-I'll carry it, yeah.
-I can get my pillow.
Yeah, you take your... LAUGHTER
..little jazzy, festival...
So has most of your camping experiences been at festivals?
Yeah, kind of at festivals and then...
-Sorry, just stereotyping you.
Look how clean and clear it is. It's gorgeous.
Even if there are one or two obstacles.
There's quite a lot of cow muck here, isn't there?
Do you want a big cowpat next to where you sleep? Are you bothered?
I'm not. I don't really care, they don't really smell.
-No, but you can stand on that.
-I'm a vegetarian anyway.
Feed that one through from the bottom.
If that goes in the eyelets.
-I really love sleeping in tents.
-Because you're snug, aren't you?
As long as you're warm enough. As long as you're warm and dry.
But I don't think a tent is going to be much protection
against another animal that could be prowling these moors.
I hope that Sara doesn't scare easily.
This area has the highest numbers of big cat sightings in the country.
You must have heard stories about big cats being sighted?
Yeah, but I don't think it's something that's going to eat you, though.
-The Beast of Bodmin!
-Like a "Beast of Bodmin".
-That's not far from here.
-What, is he going to get a taxi from Bodmin and come here just to terrorise us?
No, but then, I think in the last sort of ten years,
there've been numerous sightings of big cats in this area.
When the Dangerous Animals Act came into force almost 40 years ago,
big cats needed a licence.
And the theory goes, many were just released into the wild.
Is pegging your favourite part? You seem to have just completely commandeered all the pegs.
SARAH LAUGHS "Um, yeah, I'll do the pegging."
If big cats do exist here, they have everything they need to
survive, given the size of Dartmoor and the number of grazing animals.
There are photographs of horses from this area with kind of
scratch marks on them.
Quite suspicious-looking sheep carcasses that have been eaten.
So far though, the evidence has been inconclusive.
So, look at that.
This is like somebody has taken this picture and they've said,
-"Ah, that's a big cat!"
-That's a fake, isn't it?
But for every person that genuinely thinks that they've seen
something, I bet there's going to be ten people that think,
"Oh, yeah! I'm going to take a picture of my domestic cat or my dog
"and try and pass it off as a big cat."
OK, so this one is... This is quite interesting.
Can you see that?
This is a guy that was taking a sunset shot.
And when he got home and looked on his computer...
..that was sitting on one of the tors. It looks like a puma.
But it's got that intense stare that cats have.
It's too far away to tell if it's cuddly toy or not.
-Do you want it to be true?
-I kind of do want it to be true.
So with that in mind, I'm going to get my camera traps.
'I've often used camera traps to film elusive big cats
'and almost always, I've been successful. But do they exist here?
Anything that comes through, it will trigger this motion sensor
-and it will record a clip of it.
-Do I need to test that?
Do you want me going past? Cat-style?
I'll tell you what, I need... I'm going to put it... Can you pull
these bits of grass, so the image is kind of roundabout there?
So if you pull those out
and I'll run down and get some stones from the river.
I'd be quite happy with a rabbit.
That'd be wild enough for me.
Or a hare.
It'd be quite fun to see what actually is pottering around
while we're asleep.
Um... And it's going to be a bit of an anti-climax
if there's nothing going on.
You going to be the cat?
That's going to work. That is going to work.
I'm absolutely feeling it. It's going to happen.
This is a little thing that I do.
Give it a little kiss! THEY LAUGH
I do it a lot with different pieces of equipment.
It's getting dark.
So I'll leave the camera traps to do their thing, while Sara and I head
off to a top-secret location and one of our most mysterious animals.
-So, um, are we going to bat country, then?
-We must be guaranteed a bat?
-We're guaranteed that we are going to see a bat.
You've got to guarantee that. Yeah. Going to see a man about a bat.
Greater horseshoe bats have declined by whopping 90% in recent decades.
This part of Devon is one of the few areas where they're found
in any number.
And that's why they're a protected species.
It's a criminal offence to disturb them.
So, guaranteed, this is the most fun that you will have at sunset
in Dartmoor. SARA LAUGHS
-Really? Are we going to see some bat action?
-Inside this building...
-..is the largest indoor
roost of greater horseshoe bats in Europe.
'There are over a thousand bat species worldwide.
'And 18 of them are in the UK.
'Although we have permission to be here, it would disturb them'
if we went in. But night-vision cameras film the bats continuously.
At sunset, almost bang on, they'll start to come out.
So we'll have 2,000 bats kind of wheeling about our head.
Oh, my gosh!
So the biggest bat that we have in this country.
And the wings...
-The wings are 16 inches.
-Whoa! That's quite big, isn't it?
I was thinking like diddy ones that look a bit like swallow sizes.
-No, 16 inches.
-Oh, my God!
-2,000 of them.
'Did I mention that Sara doesn't like flappy things?'
-This used to be a pigsty.
And then they had started roosting in there, but then it was
renovated to suit the bats, to provide a safe place for them.
The other thing that bats need,
-they need somewhere to hibernate in the winter.
Do bats hibernate?
Yeah, when you start getting cold weather and frost,
insects stop flying about, insects start dying off,
and so there's nothing for the bats to eat.
So their survival strategy is just to conserve as much
energy as possible.
-Do all bats hang upside down?
So they give birth upside down, they feed their young upside down.
-They do not give birth upside down!
-Yeah, they have sex upside down!
-Do they really?
The male's got this kind of specially adapted penis that
kind of is like a big hook. So they're upside down, it comes..
-Oh, it sounds lovely.
-Yes, very peculiar.
-Very Mills & Boon(!)
'Like all bats, they make a high-pitched call as they fly.
'And use the returning echoes to build up a sonic
'map of their surroundings.
'It's called echo location.'
You won't have one of these. You don't have a bat detector, do you?
-Is that an actual thing?
-It is an actual thing.
We can't hear the frequency of the bats' echo location.
-It's too high.
-It's kind of beyond our audible range.
But with this, what this does is it tunes in to their range.
There you go. Go in there.
BEEPING ON DETECTOR
-Can you hear it?
-Oh, my God!
HIGHER PITCHED SOUNDS
So that's their echo location.
'When it's dark enough, they'll come out to feed.
'They can eat up to 3,000 insects in a single night.
'The only way to see us is with these night vision cameras.'
I'm quite worried that I'll like just freak out and run.
'But I'm excited.
'These bats are really rare and it's a sight few of us
'will ever actually see.'
As long as they're not going to hit me.
They won't hit you, I promise.
-If a bat hits me, you give me £100.
OK, well, that won't happen. You might get a...
-You might feel a waft. SHE GASPS
But I doubt it.
They come this way. Stop worrying.
You're not going to move off from me, are you? Seriously, Gordon.
-No, no. I promise.
-Don't leave my side, please.
What they're doing at this time is just having a look,
so that's like one of the bravest bats cos he's thought,
"Right, OK, it's still a bit light, there might be birds of prey about,
"there might be other predators, but I'm kind of brave
"enough to come out and just see what the light levels are."
-So when they go back in, they will literally be...
-Telling the others.
-Telling the others. At the moment...
There's a woman clinging to a man, just out in the courtyard.
They're coming out at a real rate now, aren't they?
The braver the bat, the faster it can start feeding.
The ones that disappear over the roof,
they don't have to travel that far.
They can probably just start feeding as soon as they get up over
this patch of forest.
So you can imagine them flying at that speed, echo locating,
sending out that kind of warbling sound, that will
bounce off a moth, bounce back at them,
for enough time for them to adjust their flight and catch them.
Every animal kind of takes a calculated risk,
so these bats, "OK, tonight might be my last night on Earth
"because I might come out too early and a sparrowhawk nobbles me
"or I might run into a tawny owl and get nailed that way."
-Hey, Tony Owl!
Tony Owl, Mafioso, Italian owls, they're so vicious.
I whipped myself open to a bat frenzy beforehand.
I just didn't quite know how intense it was going to be,
pinging out at like four or five at a time at one point,
which was pretty cool, but that was enough for me.
And so, when we get back to our little camp,
all these thousands of bats will be flying about, filling their bellies.
Yeah. Bless them, little things. I do wish them well.
Good luck, bats!
-Yeah. And I want to see if any...
I'm not staying in that tent if there's a cat.
'It's almost 8am and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some sunshine.'
-Are you all right?
Oh, lovely, ta, darling.
-Did you sleep OK?
-Yeah. It was good. You know what? I slept brilliantly.
I'm worried that you might have sparked some like new
thing in me now where I just want to be a nomad and that
and like just live like this, but in North London, and my children will
have to come and knock on the tent every morning and go,
"Come and feed us now and get us to school."
-Speaking of which, are you hungry?
-Yeah, I am. What have you got?
Do you want...? I could do some eggs.
'At times, it can be really grim looking for wildlife
'when the weather's bad.
'It's why I always have a good breakfast to set me
'up for the day ahead.'
-They look delicious, actually.
-Do you like smoked salmon?
I do, yes.
I've brought these little candles for last night.
The midges would have been bothering us,
so this candle would have kept them at bay, but..
As it was, we just had whisky
and hot chocolate under an umbrella really quickly and went, "Night!"
-Here we go.
-Would you like salt and pepper?
Oh, I just presumed this was your make-up and concealer
when I saw these little pots.
The other one, that's what's in there.
If the egg doesn't fill me up, the pepper will! Big chunks!
'I think I spoke too soon about the weather though.'
God, it's really rainy, isn't it?
I missed the window of dry weather to pack away the tent.
I'm amazed at how well Sara is coping with this
because I think when I planned this little trip, I had kind of blue
skies and perfect weather in mind
and it's kind of been far from that, but she's just super chirpy.
She's still up for it, still having fun,
so I think that's a result in itself.
'The rain finally stops and we're heading off to
'Fingle Woods on the northern edge of Dartmoor.
'It's where we've got the best chance of finding dormice
'and badgers and I think I did promise Sara I'd find her a badger.'
I love a cattle grid. My dad's got a cattle grid at the end of his farm.
-Really? Has he got a hedgehog kind of recovery system in it?
Because with cattle grids,
there's a problem with hedgehogs kind of crossing them
and falling between the bars and then they just die in there.
The hedgehog friendly cattle grid has two little ramps at either
end, so if they fall in, they can just walk up the ramp.
No, what he's actually got is tiny rope ladders.
For the hedgehogs.
So they can get back up.
There's not a lot of hedgehogs actually
because the cows eat them all.
-Yeah. That's what we've found.
'Fingle Woods date back to at least 1600
'and are now owned by the National Trust and Woodland Trust.
'There's an astonishing diversity of wildlife here
'and that's what makes them so special.'
-Lead on, Macduff.
-Is that a spa Jacuzzi I hear?
-Yeah, just head for the Jacuzzi.
If it's dry, I'm happy.
If it's wet, I'm happy, but I'm happier if it's dry.
Here we are. I'm just at one with nature. I'm loving this place.
'After last night's bats, I want to show Sara something more cute
'and cuddly. With its woods and hedgerows,
'this is a prime stomping ground for dormice.'
If we go through the woods here, we'll look for signs of dormice,
so what we're looking for is the food that they've eaten.
-If we start looking on the ground for cherry stones...
..that might have been gnawed away.
Dormice are really like meticulous, tidy little eaters, so you find
nuts and these stones with perfect circular little holes in them.
There's one there, I can see.
'The name may come from the French word "dormir", which means to sleep.
'And dormice do spend three quarters of their lives snoozing.
'The most likely place we'll find them is up a tree.'
-How high up do they go then?
Some dormice can spend their entire lives in the trees,
in a cherry tree like this,
so they'll come out of their little nest at night time
and then they'll start clambering up, so like for a little
critter, that's like us scaling the Empire State building.
Are we going to see any of these things, Gordon?
-Are we going to put a little camera trap thing?
No, we're going to meet a nice man, Matt, from the Woodland Trust
and he's going to kind of hopefully show us one
because they are protected, so there's a project to try
and encourage dormice to breed and to give them not just habitat,
but to give them sort of actual places that they can sleep
and so the Woodland Trust has got this project, putting up nest boxes.
-They're not for birds, they're for little mice.
Has he got any badgers we can look at?
'I'm not sure how committed Sara is to waiting
'patiently for wildlife to show up.'
You ain't going to find me a dormouse.
More likely find me a unicorn
than a dormouse and they aren't going to come out, are they?
I think there's a man who has got a box of them though.
I hope he's got a crate of badgers and beavers as well.
And an otter. Then we can go to the pub then.
'It doesn't really help that the creatures on my list
'are mainly nocturnal.
'And it's started raining again.'
-Can we go and see a dormouse then?
-Let's find Matt.
-There's been a bit of a build up to this dormouse.
'Wildlife expert Matt Parkins is one of the few people
'in the country legally allowed
'to handle these lovely little critters.'
So, levels of excitement,
-obviously never having seen a dormouse before..
-I mean, I'm nudging at a strong 6.5.
-That's good. I'm happy with that.
If a unicorn's a ten.
-It's a strong 6.5.
-We'll creep up to this box.
-She's not very good at that.
Was that directed at me? "If we're quiet" bit.
I'll gently take the box off the tree..
I feel kind of bad for them.
Will there be mums and babies? Oh, not this time of year.
No, there could be cos the babies stay
with their mums for like ten weeks.
And then to stop them running away, we capture them in this bag.
-Oh, my gosh!
Look at that!
So, we've got one here.
Oh, look, look, look.
Got one there. Very, very lively.
Will they nip you?
Dormouse are relatively friendly and they don't tend to bite.
Oh, my gosh!
'It's Matt's job to monitor the dormice
'and keep an eye on their numbers.'
I need to put the scales on the bag there.
And you can tell me how heavy that one is.
I'll hold it and you do the... Oh, my goodness! It's really light.
So it's like 20. Is it 20 grams?
What you need to do is actually work out whether it's male or female.
-Is that a female?
-So that one's actually a female.
-So, you are expert already.
-There we go.
And interestingly, there's a little white tip on the tail as well.
-You see its little...
-Look at its little face!
-There we go.
-Don't move, anybody.
Stay still. Behind...
-I didn't. I stayed still.
-Try not to move your feet.
I didn't move my feet. It just made me jump. I'm so sorry.
-Oh, there it is. Right there, look.
-Where is it?
Right between my feet, under my boot. I'm not going to move.
-I'm so sorry.
-You said it was just things that flap.
Dormice don't flap.
I really like rodents as well, but it just made me jump.
-So that's the one.
If you'd squashed one, you'd have been off the job.
I think I would have had to send you home.
-The dormice police knocking at my door.
Thanks so much, Matt. That was super cool. That was exciting.
'There's another animal that lives alongside the dormice,
'but they're a lot more elusive.'
So I think maybe head up under here cos there's lots of tracks coming...
-Little trails coming down out of the woods, onto the path.
Here, badgy, badgy!
It's dark, isn't it?
So, look for holes in the ground.
How big are badger-sized holes?
About the size of a badger,
but, yeah, there wouldn't be just one hole, there'll be several.
So, will it be at the foot of a tree or something?
No, quite often in a raised mound of earth
because some of these sets are used for generations and generations.
Look! Bingo! bingo!
'Just what we're looking for - a badger's set.'
It's kind of magical.
This is definitely, I think, a main set.
'Badgers have a really good sense of smell
'and they won't come out if they know we're are around.'
We want to be downwind from them. Hang on, let me do the old...
No, there's, like...
Yeah, there you go. See how the needles are blowing towards you.
-So, we want to sit that side of the set.
I'll just double-check. Yeah.
-Yeah, you happy now?
I'll set the camera traps up, you're on peanut detail.
'I don't normally put food out for animals,
'but it's raining, it's late in the day
'and this might be our only chance of seeing them.'
On the prominent bark, so, like, that log, on stones.
Just dot it around. A good dollop.
-Like a good, big teaspoon?
-And then you can start to scatter the nuts around.
Oh, it's lovely. Lovely stuff.
Here we go.
It's like I am the Delia Smith of the badger world.
To be honest, if I was a badger I'd be suspicious of this.
I'd be like, "Who's left all this peanut butter everywhere?
"I am staying in tonight, some weirdos about!"
And they wouldn't be wrong.
-Got the peanuts there?
-Stop eating them!
Take a couple of big handfuls.
Like you are sowing.
Like a swing?
No, just scatter them around in any way you see fit.
The one issue, I suppose, with any badger set
is that there are holes all over the place, so you never know.
When I'm in a situation like this...
In a situation like this, I'm always really desperate to see the animal,
but, for Sara, I really want her to see a badger, I really do!
I could be minutes away from my first ever live badger experience!
I feel pretty...
Or I could be looking at a few hours of cold disappointment.
Oh, here he is.
The nut man of Dartmoor.
'We retreat to a safe distance and wait until it gets dark.
'The only way we'll see the badgers now is with night vision goggles.'
You take these.
Other way round!
So, can you see where the set is?
If they're completely relaxed they'll have, like, a whole family
moving about over the set area and grooming.
A badger's number-one favourite pastime is grooming
because underground in the set they pick up
parasites and ticks and lice.
Come on Mr and Mrs Badger!
Some badger sets can have up to 50 exits.
I just hope we've chosen the right one.
The are not, like, 30 badgers over the side of the hill right now
having a barbecue, giving each other piggybacks?
I doubt it. But you never know.
And the other side wasn't an option because...
Because it can't be downhill?
..the wind direction.
Lovely perfume would be wafting towards the badgers
and they won't like that.
I have got a box set I could be getting on with, you know?
I thought I saw something.
'That was a rat, not a badger.
Wildlife can be so unpredictable.'
-Are they just taking a while to come out?
'I'm well used to waiting in the cold and rain and seeing nothing,
'but Sara is a novice at this.'
Oh, God! That's not good!
The first yawn!
'And just when I think it can't get any worse...'
-Is it raining?
-I think so.
-Hey, hey, hey!
-No, there is.
-Yeah, there was.
It ran up the bank.
-I saw a badger.
-Do you think more will come now?
It is hard to say because it actually ran off.
Maybe it's gone to tell its friends about the peanuts.
OK, come on, show yourself again!
I can't believe I missed it.
'Come on, you badgers!
'You're making me look bad in front of Sara.'
-I'm bloody cold.
Just because I'm damp and sitting still.
I have got, like, "Twitcher's Neck" or something it's probably called.
-I've got Badger's Bum.
'OK, so we've been here a sum total of one hour and 27 minutes.
'I caught a glimpse of one, but it was too quick for Sara.'
I hate to say it, Gords, I just think we should go.
-I am so cold.
We're done here.
I'm a Northerner so I'm used to rain,
but this has taken the biscuit.
The biscuit, the plate and the doily
has all been taken by the weather today.
I've been dripped on, drizzled on,
showered on, rained on,
It's just been horrible.
I kind of got a sense when she got into her tent
that she is, like, "Argh..."
She's not having fun any more
and that, for me, kind of feels like a failure.
Tomorrow is beaver day and I'm not convinced now...
..about seeing anything...
..if I'm honest.
I think more than ever before,
with any single species in any part of the world,
I'm feeling kind of feeling a huge amount of pressure
to show Sara these animals.
'It's 7.00am and it's still raining.
'I really hope it turns out to be a better day than yesterday.'
I thought I might get up and you'd actually just decided
to walk back to London, you'd had had enough.
I do worry that my reputation isn't holding up too well.
'She was really disenchanted last night.
'I was losing her fast!
'So the fact that I still have her with me, on day three,'
after two very rainy days, two very rainy nights,
maybe that's what I've got to cling on to - that Sara is still here.
Oh! The first thing I feel is that drizzle.
I'm kind of worried that there might be loads of, like,
little woodland creatures stuck in that peanut butter.
"I'll just go and find an acorn...", and, "Argh!"
And then the badger comes along, "Oh, peanut butter!",
-And dormouse stuck in it.
If this habitat is as teeming with wildlife as you keep alleging...
It is teeming world with wildlife, like, oak tree...
It just hides, doesn't it?
I didn't even see the frog, did I? I wasn't quick enough.
I love a frog, as well. Go and get us a frog!
I'll set you challenge now.
Could you get me a frog in, like, four minutes?
Gordon Buchanan, one frog, four minutes!
Time starts now!
-Almost 30 seconds gone.
Look at you, disturbing all the habitat for a challenge.
Two and a half minutes.
-To find this frog.
-Where is the nearest pet shop?
-Come on, frogs.
-I'm really rooting for you here, Gords.
You've got two minutes, that's a long time to find a frog.
-This isn't where you went for a pee, is it?
-No. I went the other side.
Ssh! Ladies don't pee in the undergrowth.
60 seconds? Is he going to do it? The crowd are on their feet.
Come on, froggy. Where are you?
Will he succeed?
Or will his reputation be in tatters?
Says me, with a massive Velcro roller in me fringe!
Looking like a...
Come on, froggy.
The great Gordon Buchanan frog spot challenge.
Such a happy sound but marking such a sad event.
Set it for 24 hours, I'm going to find you a beaver.
You've got 12 hours to get me a beaver. Go.
Ironically, me ringtone is "I've Had The Time Of My Life".
From Dirty Dancing.
-How this trip's gone.
I know this is not the original challenge
but I'm going to give it another few minutes.
-For a frog?
Gordon refuses to give up.
Nine hours later, Gordon is still searching for a frog.
-No. I don't believe you.
I thought you were winding me up. Hello! What sort is he then?
-He's a common frog.
-Oh. He's nice.
They're not constantly swimming about in the water.
The reason I, kind of, looked in all that vegetation is
that's where the frog would be...hunting.
-Get that, and you'll see how beautiful its eyes are.
-Oh, my gosh!
Made her scream again!
It glanced off my eye.
This frog. It's, kind of, way past the mating season.
-There will be lots of froglets...
-Is that what they're called?
Froglets, yeah. Baby frogs.
That... You'd be...
"Actually, I'm not going to kiss it and see if it turns into a prince"
because I think it's quite attractive.
-As it is.
-I'm already married. Sorry, froggy.
-Shall we let him go?
-Yeah. Let him go.
I'm going to put it back where I found it,
as you should always do.
Off he goes.
I was actually very pleased that he managed to catch that frog.
Like he was an actual eight-year-old.
Well done. You caught a frog.
It was fun.
I am interested in wildlife, it's more interesting when there is some.
Not here to look glamorous, people. I mean, I know I do, accidentally.
For me, it's not just about looking for wildlife
but experiencing nature every way I can.
-So, I'm going to go for a swim.
-Are you really?
I haven't had a shower for a couple of days.
You see, I'm just warming up and I just feel dry
for the first time in, like, 48 hours.
No doubt, you're feeling the same.
You're feeling warm and dry for the first time.
So, now, you're going to get wet and cold on purpose?
Whoo! Ooh! Aah!
-How is it?
-Is it not that bad?
It's a bit chilly.
Imagine if he just got pulled under now, like shark style.
-It's a bit, sort of, Rambo movie.
It's not the vibe I'm getting.
I'm thinking more Mr Bean goes wildlife.
The thing with Gordon, you see,
he's such a lovable character cos he's genuinely passionate about,
you know, everything from, right,
a hole that's been chewed in a cherry pip to, like,
living with polar bears.
So it's the whole spectrum of nature and wildlife that he just loves.
So, you've got to hand it to him. He's a complete barmcake.
But that he means it. He's dedicated in his madness.
-I'm really cold now.
-Yeah. I bet.
Did you see anything?
There's lots of little minnows.
I can't really talk to you without looking at your nipples
and it's making me uncomfortable.
Do you want me to get a couple of Elastoplast.
-You won't see anything interesting.
-Come on, young 'un. Do you feel invigorated?
I feel invigorated.
You see, an otter would be just up and away.
Thank you, darling.
Before we look for beavers, there's just time to check the footage
from our big cat camera traps.
Who knows? We may just be lucky.
What if we suddenly hit it
-and there's a big male puma staring at us.
-Be amazing, wouldn't it?
Shiny, shiny puma.
Yeah. No wildcats.
Sadly, no pumas.
But we were lucky with the other camera we set up by the river.
-Ah! Little wagtail. Look at it.
Out doing it's little waggy taily thing. Coming for its close-up.
-That's good. I somewhat feel I've redeemed myself.
And, as for the camera on the badger set. We didn't see a badger.
But we did spot something.
-Oh! Look at him.
That for me is a result. Because we got something. We did get something.
-It wasn't at all what we were expecting.
-The wagtail was the best.
-I'll always look know what a wagtail is now.
That's what I'll take away from this.
You get different species, by the way. They all look the same.
You've got pied wagtail, a grey wagtail, yellow wagtail.
-Let's go. Let's go beaver.
-Let's pack up and find these beaver.
# Upside, inside out, living the beaver loca! #
Who's your favourite movie star?
We're heading towards the northern edge of Dartmoor
to another top-secret location.
-# Then I saw her face, now I'm a be-beaver. #
-You are a genius.
-So many of them.
-Um, costume change.
You big into waders? Size...14?
Why are we putting these on, by the way. I've not even questioned it.
I've just put them on.
Don't want to be hampered by our inability to...
You want to go where beaver go, you've got to get like a beaver.
-Ooh. They are quite warm, actually, aren't they?
-Yeah. They are.
We're getting to that age, anyway,
where we'll start wearing elasticated waists.
Soon, all our clothes'll be like this.
Speak for yourself, dear.
Let's find some beaver.
-# I've been waiting...
-For a girl like you.
# To come into... #
-Can you do a comedy, like... You know, one of them?
-A heel click?
Beavers were once widespread
but were hunted to extinction in the 1500s.
Over the last few years,
there have been several schemes to reintroduce them.
In 2011, the Devon Wildlife Trust
released a male and female into this dedicated beaver area.
Yeah. This is a, kind of...
a trial with beavers in a, kind of, wild...environment.
To see what impact they have on the spread of vegetation,
but also, kind of, what they do to the flow of water.
So, this, is called V-notch.
-It measures the quantity of water that is flowing into the site.
And also the quality of the water.
But to get correct readings with quality and quantity,
they have to keep this free.
But the beavers, they hear running water and they want to block it up.
As a job, you're, sort of,
helping this research project by clearing out the V-notch.
-The fence has been put around to stop the beavers...
-Who is? I am?
Yeah. You want to do it just, kind of, hop over...
-Right. Good job.
And get as much of it out as you can.
"What did you do today, darling?" "Oh! I cleaned out a V-notch."
-I hope I've not plucked my waders.
-That would be disastrous.
OK. Up! Nine stone? Are you serious?
Ha! I do like you Gordon, cos you could have just let me go then.
Look at that now.
We're getting close to potential beaver o'clock, Sara.
-We are. We are.
At just under seven acres, this site is massive.
And there are signs of beavers everywhere.
Even if there's no guarantee that we'll see one.
Oh! Look, look, look!
-What is that?
-That's their lodge.
That's their home.
So they've piled up mud, chewed off all these branches
-and created a beaver lodge.
-A lot of stuff's going on here.
-But, you see, it was really well disguised.
You can tell something's made that.
It's not just fallen in that cluster of mud and sticks.
So, the entrance will be underground.
-So, for example, if you're...
-Under the water?
..a bear or wolf coming along and you spy a beaver
going into its hole, it could dig you out,
whereas, if your entrance is underwater,
you can get into your home without anyone seeing you.
-You know, they are, kind of, nature's engineers.
It's a bit James Bond-esque, isn't it?
Right, let's go for a wander.
'Beavers are a vital missing link in the UK's ecosystem.'
I mean, for a little animal to do all this stuff...
-Yeah, it's amazing.
You wouldn't get these flowers, you wouldn't get the insects
that feed on these flowers, you wouldn't get, you know,
the bats that feed on the insect.
It is phenomenal what they do.
'The beavers have created a whole new habitat
'by damming parts of the water flow.'
To talk about beavers as being kind of destructive,
they're not creating some kind of desert.
They're totally enriching the wild environment.
Classic beaver activities is strip the bark.
Oh, and is it eating it? Or is it using it to build stuff?
Eating the bark.
What they'll do, you know, for the wintertime,
is drag food up to the lodge
-They don't hibernate, do they?
No, they've got storage food, so they can feed through the winter.
'I am willing a beaver to show up.
'After the badger no-show, we can't have a beaver no-show.'
'Definitely don't want to leave Sara disappointed.
'And I'm just hoping that the beavers'
are going to be, kind of,
the cherry on a slightly soggy cake.
Oh, it is cold.
So, this is not something that would be encouraged.
This is something that not everyone gets a chance to do,
is wade to a beaver pond.
So, this in itself is a treat.
Does it feel like a treat?
Feels like my waders are leaking a bit.
It's just the cold water.
OK, so I'm going to do the splits.
This is definitely different from Radio 2,
from what I'm normally doing.
You've got a good, intrepid story there.
"When I was wading through a beaver pond..."
I really don't want you to fall over.
No, I mean...
I'm straight back to my luxury Winnebago
if I go over in this.
I've not actually got a luxury Winnebago.
-There's a beaver there.
Stay really still.
Oh, my goodness.
Isn't that something?
Oh, my goodness.
I have never been so close to a beaver in my life.
It's big, isn't it?
-That's the adult male?
All of them...
Do you see how the eyes, the ears...
-You're not worried, are you?
You haven't screamed yet.
When he comes up again, you'll see that the nostrils,
the eyes and the ears are on this same line.
-So, it can pop up.
-Yeah, so it can keep its entire body
under the water, but all the important senses can come above,
so it can smell, it can see and it can hear
without having to reveal itself.
I'm so, so happy.
I couldn't believe my eyes.
I was just like...
I'm welling up.
If it comes here, what do we do? Just stay still?
Just stay nice and still.
Oh, look, there it is.
We obviously wanted to show Sara a beaver
and I would have taken a glimpse, so I could just say,
"Oh, there you go, there's a beaver."
But to actually be sharing this experience, like,
something that I've never experienced or had before,
it's like just mind-blowing.
I will never forget this.
He just was gliding along.
I'm so relieved.
I've never been in a beaver pond with a beaver.
I've never been so close to a beaver,
so this is like the number one beaver sighting of my life
and I'm sharing it with Sara.
The lovely Sara Cox.
-What an amazing way to end.
-I know, brilliant.
-God, that was unbelievable.
-Yeah, it was brilliant.
-I'm so happy.
I feel slightly overwhelmed by that,
coming to the end of our wildlife weekend
and I don't think I've turned you into, like, a wildlife watcher,
or a twitcher,
but I think, you know, you can look at the wild world
in a different way.
I'm going to know what a wagtail is when I see a wagtail.
I don't think I'll ever have an experience like that
of bats flying out and towards me again.
-Badger... I'll have to come back and do the badgers.
You know what? We've laughed a lot.
We've done well cos we've had rotten luck with the weather.
It's been fab, it's been really great.
We've had an encounter, mind-blowing.
Unless it gets out and does a tango with us...
I don't think that's going to happen.
-..we're not going to improve on that.
Just leave him to it cos he's given us such a big gift, hasn't he?
By giving us a little swim past.
Have you got your phone?
What did I say?
I had 12 hours, I forgot. I said I wasn't making any promises,
but I've achieved the mission
with an hour and 20 minutes to spare.
Thank the lord.
I can now turn off the beaver alarm because we got the beaver.
I would put that as one of my top five wildlife encounters.
-Yeah, I do.
-I'm genuinely really flattered
cos you've had a lot.
You're still better.
Gordon and Sara are in Dartmoor, famed for its rugged landscape and tough little wild ponies. But they discover that it has a lot more to offer as they witness a secret colony of rare horseshoe bats leaving the roost at night, and Sara has an encounter with a frisky dormouse.
The rain is relentless and threatens to dampen Sara's enthusiasm during a badger stakeout. But will their search for a beaver prove to be worth all the discomfort?