Episode 10 Springwatch

Episode 10

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Where do you get tales of incredible journeys? What happens


when a little bird takes a mouthful to pick? A what did we see deep in


the woods last night? Find out on Hello, and welcome to Springwatch,


coming to live from Wales. This evening we have Ben sconced


ourselves in the rich woods of the RSPB's beautiful reserve. We have


all the ingredients to promise you a top show, the best of British


wildlife in real time. The we will be looking at one of our favourite


little birds, dippers. How have they been getting on? And we are


going to be bringing you news of these little babes in the ward. Did


they survive the night? Our nest hang earth coming over from last


night was this - wood warblers. The big question was what they or would


they not fled to the lest -- the nest. Shall we have a quiz. There


must be something round here. that do? What a spot of good luck.


Here is the quiz. What British animal did this come from? Get your


answers in now, live on the web, on Twitter or Facebook. 10 programmes


in, you are getting brilliant! Just look - it has very big guys. And


something else that has big guys is Louis in Essex. A welcome to


landfill live coming to you from Essex. We are making our way down


from the active part of the landfill, and tonight is a mammal


extravaganza because we are going to bring you a fox watching


experience to remember, and we are also looking for Britain's fastest


declining mammal. I am also going to show you what that is about - a


green industry taking place on landfill.


When queue. If you have been watching the programme over the


last couple of weeks, you will know we have been watching warblers. We


had grasshopper warblers, they left, but we also had other warblers


which were doing terribly well. The adults had been very busy bringing


a wealth of food up to 80 times an hour. Let's refresh our memories of


just how active they were. We were talking about a brood bursting out


of the nest. And sometimes bursting, and not being able to get out what


they should out of the nest. It was unfortunate, but what I loved about


this scene yesterday was that you can see just how those chicks are


growing up, and that wonderful distinctive yellow stripe around


their eyes has developed. It is already there, matching the adults.


It is quite a cramped interior at this stage. They are hanging on for


exactly the right time to go, making sure they have enough food.


I think it was a slightly more adventurous exit than the


grasshopper warblers, which scuttled off into the grass. Yes,


they just decided to sit somewhere different! Of course we were


keeping a very close eye on those wood warblers, and this morning


this is what the story developer has caught on camera. At 8 o'clock,


the first one took the plunge and flew the nest. Then, just


afterwards, this mysterious shadow appeared in the corner of the frame.


You can see the chicks have noticed it, they don't look overly


concerned, but what is it? It is a blue tit. Clearly no threat to


those chicks, but it was perhaps enough to encourage them out and


the second chick left very soon after the blue tit left. Followed


swiftly by the third, then let's have the 4th. We have one more to


go, and there it goes. All out in a very energetic fashion, Chris. As


we said, nothing like those grasshopper warblers, a much more


decisive exit. The grasshopper warblers had been in the nest for


11 days, these had been in for 15 so they were that much bigger. When


we sent our cameraman out to find out what had happened to these


birds - after all, they may not have made it - he observed this. He


found the birds not on the ground, but already right up in the trees.


Presumably because they have had that little bit longer in the nest,


their flight feathers and their wings are looking almost as fully


developed as an adult's wings, they were able to fly up into the can't


be out of harm's way. Lookout its tail. The wing feathers are there


tail. The wing feathers are there but the tail is still very short. I


think this is because they don't want to develop the tale too much


in such cramped space with the jostling going on because it might


be damaged. I think they are putting their resources into their


wing feathers, and it is now they will be growing their tails.


Growing the tale is very important because these birds will not just


be having a lovely lazy summer holiday. They are migratory species.


What happens - do they migrate with the adults? The next few weeks they


will be very busy. They have got to forage for themselves, the adults


will feed them less and less. That will be possibly in another week to


10 days. Then it is about putting on body weight because through


until August there is a conspicuous migration when it comes to wood


warblers. They kind of drift out of the UK and hang out in northern


Italy, down through Spain, put on more weight before they make the


leap to their wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa. Sierra Leone,


through Niger, the top of Uganda, through to sit down. It is a


phenomenal journey and now it is all about building up muscle


strength and body weight. Do we know whether those little chicks


that have been born in this ward, after that migration will they


return? I don't know that but there has been a study going on here in


these wards for the last few years. I wouldn't mind betting they do


come back, although I have read reports of wood warblers turning up


in other parts of the country, even southern Scotland. We will check it


out. Those of you who have a very good memory may say hang on a


second, there was wood warblers, I am sure they had six chicks but


only five left, so what is going on? I will tell you - nature


doesn't like hanging about. Look at this. One chick for some reason


didn't make it. It was found in the nest, but you can see it moving.


Not because it is alive, but because it is being recycled by one


of nature's most extraordinary creatures, it is a beetle and I


happen to know what is your favourite. It is, by a long way.


This is the Sexton or burying beetles. The males are tracked the


females, the females lay their eggs on it, but then they stick with the


eggs and a kind of power over the top of them until they hatch. Then


they still stick with them because when the young hatch, they don't


have functional mouth parts for the first two growth stages of their


development so the adult beetles tulle up the decaying meat and


feeds it to the developing larvae, showing parents will care. How


fabulous is that? If I were a dead wood warbler, I would want to be


recycled by one of those Beatles. Let's remind you of a very dramatic


story which we witnessed yesterday. This was the nest of friends which


was raided by a at jay. The jay went round the back of the nest and


started removing some of the nesting material, and with it one


of the chicks. It forced out the five remaining tricks and they have


left earlier than they would have done naturally. They ended up


hidden in the undergrowth just below the tree in which they were


nesting. We wondered if they had any chance of surviving the night,


because Jays are very clever birds. We sent our cameraman out on a


mission to see if they were still there this morning. He spotted the


adult bird with food so we thought that was a good sign. As it turned


out, we were right. The chicks had survived and he found all five of


them in the undergrowth. When we saw them last night, I thought life


become a landslide frankly, a downhill slope but they seem to be


OK at the moment. I have got to stick up for the jape at this stage.


They typically only predate eggs and young birds during their own


breeding season. Through the rest of the season they eat


invertebrates and acorns in the wintertime. They are not all bad.


Martin has a film coming up later in the programme about another


member of this family, the magpie. Enough from us, let's move on to


the guest naturalist this week and see where she is. She is in a


landfill site, and I have got to say we have a very fine evening up


in Wales. Is the weather beautiful for you down there? It has been a


scorcher all day, so much so I had to put my sunglasses on. We are


still on a mission to find out how landfill can contribute to wildlife


conservation of the 21st century. Yesterday we found out landfill is


not just about dumping rubbish, it also provides food and shelter for


wild animals and we got a glimpse of those foxes. More about them


later on, but you might be wondering what the noise is about.


Shaun Taylor is over here, the site manager here. What is this? We have


over 1000 wells in the landfill. All that gas is brought down to


this compound here. What do you turn the gas into here? It is


turned into electricity and then we have installed a cable that runs


out of the front of the site, and then it is turned into electricity


and taken off-site. How many homes do you provide electricity for?


to 20,000 homes. How long will it last for? We expect to create


electricity here for up to 50 years. Thank you. It is great to see how


the strains of the modern world can be put to use. Remember those foxes


yesterday that the cameras caught shots off over the spring? We


decided it was time to get a little bit more up close and personal.


Phil is an ecologist who works with the company that runs this site. As


part of his work, he photographs foxes here and has studied them for


30 years. I am hoping his long- standing relationship with them can


help me and the adventure team have a close encounter we will not


forget. How are we going to do this? How can we approach the foxes


carefully? We are going to walk up to the bank here, and sit there and


wait until they come out basically. This obviously helps. We feed them


bits of pork to encourage them to come to the camera. I know what is


a great incentive for them to come out, but does that mean we can


bring the whole group? What is the maximum we can bring near to the


foxes? We will just start with the two of us. Can they creep forward


eventually? Yes. We will go ahead and see how it goes. Ready? Let's


do this. OK. This isn't just for fun. We want to know how likely it


is that we can film the foxes live at the end of the week. Call it


field research, if you like. It soon becomes apparent that getting


a film crew close to foxes here really isn't a problem. When I say


So pretty. That's a cub chasing away an adult. He is bold as brass.


How did these foxes become so tame in the first place? There were a


crew of earth movers here, big truckers, you know, they never ate


their crusts, right. They just threw their crusts where they were


eating on site. There were two cubs like this, who were pretty bold,


they started coming. What happens is, the foxes learn from each other.


They watch what other foxes do and they learn. If one sees another one


getting food, then it must be able to think, well, maybe I could do


that as well. What are your thoughts about feeding the foxes?


Feeding foxes, I think, is extremely controversial. I've got


no problems with people feeding foxes, you need to think it through.


If you are feeding foxs in your garden, then you need to think


really about what your neighbours might think about that. On a site


like this, then, I think, there's no harm in it. The population, you


know, isn't sustainable without the food source up on the landfill,


perhaps, without the handouts from people like me. There are more


foxes per square mile here at the landfill than there are anywhere


else in Britain. Being so tame, there really couldn't be a better


place to try and get a film crew an intimate encounter. We succeeded


today, they're all around the crew, take a look. So beautiful. Safe to


say, that was a fairly successful afternoon. I didn't think we were


going to see so many foxes altogether. Now, the big challenge


is to bring all of that to you, I still cannot believe that


actually happened. I want to bring those foxes to you in the best


possible way that we can. That does mean bringing them to you live. So,


bear with us. We will do our best. By the end of the week we will be


able to do just that. Thank you very much, Liz. Amazing to see all


those foxes. Densely in the whole of the UK? Amazing. Beautiful


animals too. Hold a torch to a tiger me the fox. Stunning creature.


Shall we look at some of our foxes? Let's do that. This was yesterday


night. Young, surprised to see such youngsters. Late in the year like,


this they must have been late. It's difficult to age them. I would say


they are probably about 12 weeks old. Maybe a little bit older, 12-


15 weeks old. They are still quite young for this time of year. What


surprised me, they seemed to be going into that badger's sett.


Shall we look? Yes. This is what we got last night. I had said that, if


I ever find that another badger turns up on the at the sett I will


eat my coat. It did. Highlighted behind the foliage. It goes down


one of the holes. Half an hour later, this wasn't immediately,


carrying food and goes down the same hole. There is co-habituation


going on here. It amazes me they will live side by side like this?


They get something out of. It the badger Escude ka vaited a fine


living space. Here they have luxury accommodation, lots of chambers.


Well cleaned out. Foxs are famous for bringing lots of carrying and


food back to the den area. I wouldn't mind betting that the


badgers might scavenge some of this. Both are benefiting? Badger is top


dog. Stronger jaws and powerful teeth. So the badger will come off


top. Would win. Definitely. Now a little bird that is loved by anyone,


the dipper. Let's look. This was filmed by Lindsay again. This was


filmed but the deluge on Sunday. He is learning his craft, he or she.


He has to learn to hundred hunt under the water, hasn't he? He has


to do it pretty quickly. After they fledge they can become independent


from the parents in just a week. Parents still here now. I think


that's the male. The male will sometimes continue to feed. It's


funny you say that, I think that is comctly -- exactly what will happen.


A big pause. He hand it to the youngster. The female may have


started another clutch of eggs. They will have up to three in the


season. That was before the deluge. They were doing very well. Over the


course of the weekend we had a tremendous amount of rain. The


river where the dippers are living went into full spate. They can't


hunt in that? They say that. In the less turbulent parts the adults


would do well. The youngster is no fool. It hasn't been able to learn


how to hunt blow the surface. It is picking around on themoss. Walking


around on the rocks. They have extremely dense plumage. They can


slow their heartbeat down when they go blow the water. They have strong


legs. These are fantastic under water creatures. We have to say


that. You would never guess it. What about the skull? Shall we do


the skull? I think so. Where is it? Here is the skull. Answers have


been coming in thick and fast. Would you hold it for me, Becky,


please, thank you very much. Some people got it wrong. Lucy and Crazy


Blue think it's a sheep. Show him the teeth. Facebook, Debbie thinks


it's an otter. Interesting. Not quite there yet, I'd say. This is


the largest mamalion carnivore you will find in the UK. You will


notice that Martin managed to tempt me away for a boy's weekend.he


crammed me into the side car of a motorcycle. He kept trying to go


faster. I managed to slow him down. He tempted me to a port hole that


led to a beautiful place. You know, I have to say, I've been rather


impressed with Martin's boys' weekends so far. I've seen seals,


and a species of dipper that I've never seen before and, frankly, I


never want to see again. Barking, barking, barringing mad. Now, he's


taken me off-roading. I don't think my bum's going to take any more!


Honestly! Honestly, what am I doing? I have to stop you now.


Before we go through this doorway, I might almost call it a, "port


hole". We have seen a few cormorants. It's the middle of


their breeding season. It gives us a great opportunity to have a great


look at these splendid seabirds. Local expert, Chris Sharp, has been


monitoring the colony. Hi, Chris. How do. Nice to see you. What is


going on? It's quite quiet it at the moment. Birds are sitting tight


on eggs. Birds are flying to-and- fro with nesting material. The male


does all the work of building the nest. Pretty much. She just lays.


Takes her time and makes the decision and decides if he's the


right one. Extraordinary colours on them. They have electric green eyes.


Yellow under neath the bill. I like their backs, burnish green and


bronze like armour. They rfplt you can see the plates of the armour in


the black. I haven't seen that before until we got this close.


Stunning birds. They are very hot. Basically, they pant because,


obviously, birds can't sweat. The thing, is they have interesting


displays, don't they, they flip their wings back and tip all their


way back to their tail? Yes. Occasionally still now there is


demonstrating going on, pair bonding and showing off,


effectively, attracting the mate. Securing the partnership for the


season. I imagine they are not good flyers. Do the cormorants who live


they move further afield No, they move further afield. Birds have


been found dead on the A30 in Devon. Not very good drivers. They got


down to Devon and up into Scotland? Absolutely. I will no idea they do


that. They use inland water bodies. They go to fresh water as well


asthma rein. On that account, they will often be seen far from water


as they move from the coast to reservoirs and things like this. I


had them flying over the house. They are a long way from water.


They are hopping from one food resource to another? Yes. High,


good at gliding. Powerful flyers. They fly like geese. They are


staggeringly beautiful. I could watch them all day. It's


wonderfully peaceful up here on these cliffs. What a great weekend


I've had. I've thoroughly enjoyed myself. More importantingly, has


Chris? I've had a fantastic time. Great. It's a fantastic place.


People were very friendly. The landscape is stunning. Highlight,


it will go to the should haves. What have you got lined up for me


have something lined up, there is one thing I can assure you, there


will be no camping. No camping or reckless driving. I have been


driven by the seat of my pants. lent out. I was getting good at the


leaning. Just for a moment, a tiny moment, I thought you had become a


bit rugged. Not me me. Wait until you see tomorrow. Everything ends


up more domesticated, we end up in a gallery. He will become civilised


by the end of my boys' day out. These are our buzzard chicks. Two


extremely well fed, well cared for chicks. Doing that astonishing bird


of prey transformation, changing from little Downey things, the


adult feathers are emerging. That is their second down coat


disappearing fast. Their contour feat feathers are coming through.


When they stand up they have their primaries and the stump of their


teal tail. An amaids mazing transformation. We have seen some


very good parenting. Perhaps this little chick bit off something


rather more than he can chew. The leg of a rabbit. It seems to be set


at a right angle. Uncompromising one, as you can see the chick


thought too. Many people saw this on the webcams over the weekend and


were concerned the chick was choking. Yes. No need to be


concerned. They have adapted over millions of years to swallow large


items of prey. Their throats, as such, have changed. Their windpipe


as such a stiff covering of cartilage it's almost like a boney


tube, when you look at it. It does manage to get it down. It doesn't


look very happy afterwards. It's like calling for the heart burn


pills, definitely. I had an Indian at the weekend, I did the same


thing at the end of it, I have to say. Their throat has a series of


very powerful longer muscles which crush and compress the thing as it


is going down the throat before it gets to the gizzard. No worries. If


it were to shobg choke it would recourage Tate it or and try again


or give up hope altogether. Sometimes there are eating things


that, sadly for me, are easier to get down. We have seen, during the


course of making the programme, a whole stash, every time I look at


the buzzard nest there was another grass snake. It's only five that


they have eaten. This is all today. You know, they were bringing in


grass snakes. This adult was bringing in grass snakes, it seemed,


throughout this morning. She must have fond one of those bundles.


Those knots of snakes. She must have thought, "I will have that one


"requesting. They develop what we call a, "search image" they can


find the prey more easily than if the process was random. Once they


found, it they are easy to catch, they are going back for more and


more and more. Let's move or over here. This is where our snake cam


is set up. You can see the camera here. It's set up on this compost


heap. It has seen a tremendous amount of activity. Before we see


what we caught on snake cam this morning, let's just have a look at


where this compost heap is and why it is good for grass snakes. One of


the reasons they are attracted to it is that it's out in the open.


It's not boxed in. Boxed in compost heaps, in plastic, no good for


Enough light coming in so it really does warm-up during the day.


doesn't get too much sun, but this rotting vegetation is fermenting,


which is generating heap. The reason the snakes have come here is


to lay their eggs, this is like a natural incubator. If we came back


in a couple of months' time, there could be as many as 200 eggs in


there. Let's see what we caught on camera this morning because it was


a beautifully warm day and the snakes were basking in the sunshine.


Quite active as well, and we saw snakes moving about on the compost


heap, but also leaving the compost heap altogether. Presumably, are


they going off to hunt? At a think they are. May have laid their eggs


and now they're moving off to hunt. Laying eggs is a very energetic


exercise. These snakes will get some meals in them before they


hibernate for the winter so that is what we are seeing them do now. The


activity over the next few weeks I think we'll go down. If you have a


garden pond and you have ever seen a grass snake, make a corner of


your garden a place to dump your grass cuttings and they might stay


to breed. We had another sighting of the great creature here on the


reserve today. Again, thanks to the sunshine, and it was this little


dinosaur, a common lizard. Look at this, they seem to be crawling


along the wood and lifting up their feet. You have seen that with


lizards in Africa in the desert, lifting their feet to cope with the


hot sand - do you think that is what is happening here? It could be


a display, but it was a very hot day. Those pieces of wood will be


scorching so I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't similar


behaviour. It is a bit like us walking on to the baking hot sandy


beach. Some people put sandals on, I stick to my boots because I don't


like sand between my toes. Let's go back to Liz at the landfill site.


I'm sure you have some pretty rugged footwear on down there. I


her got all the gear, the boots, the jacket, the hard hat, it is


under control. Below me, that gas generation plant, using carbon


dioxide generated from the landfill. I looked at another by-product of


landfill earlier on. Again, not the first thing I would have expected


to see at a landfill site - what is this? We are probably getting on


for half a mile away from the tip face which we saw today.


Nevertheless, this is part of the landfill site which we have to


control. What we have here is best described by, if the bin man


doesn't come for a couple of weeks, when he finally does come you drag


the backs out and the liquid that drops out of the backs, that is


what we have here - the breaking down of the waist, and it is a


liquid that you get on landfill. can imagine that is a lot on a


landfill site. The two is also the rain fall because any rain that


hits the site, we have to control that as well. That comes from the


waist. Yes, so that permeates through, and we have a ditch that


runs all round the site. Eventually it ends up in these two lagoons.


we have a very watery world around the land deal, but can anything


live in this? It is looking fairly murky, but it is quite toxic as


well. It has a lot of ammonia and no oxygen in it whatsoever so it is


bad news for anything it wants to live in it, but there are a lot of


reed beds surrounding these ditches and they are an important part of


this land fell because they are part of a natural filtering system


that cleans up this stuff. Within those reed beds, the bird life get


very interesting. Cuckoos love to lay their eggs in reed warblers


nests. They are such an attraction that we have more than just this


one here. Look at the posture, the lowered wings and the wagging tail


are a threat to another male working nearby. Both want to claim


this territory, knowing it will be very attractive to a female looking


to lay her eggs in a warbler nest. The cuckoo is clearly agitated, and


just watch as he looks down to avoid a dive bomb by the other male.


We watched this fighting go on for several minutes and it turned into


With cuckoos in steep decline across the UK, it was a real coup


to get not one but two birds on camera, and really encouraging to


know they seem to be doing very well in this unusual part of wild


Essex. It was a big surprise to find one of Britain's most


endangered birds here. It is a land fill that just keeps giving and


there is even more wild life to come from those ditches a little


bit later on. Thank you, Liz. Martin, I know has got a bit of


cocoon news for us in a bit, but hold on because I want to share


with you one of my favourite birds and it is this one. It is the red


kite, and these were filmed - thank you to everyone at the Forestry


Commission of Wales. This was just for me, I have to confess. I said


we haven't seen enough of these birds and they are so beautiful,


particularly in flight. Those long fingers of their flight feathers


and that incredibly easy to spot tale which just allows them to be


so acrobatic in flight. That was just for me, that is it. You


obviously want to know about the red kite chick. It has grown up


quite substantially since we last caught up with it, and so today it


was a big stage in its little life. Tony Cross went up to the nest to


ring the bird, he was doing this and as you can see he is attaching


attack to its wing. That is the right hand wing and I believe the


letter stands for Springwatch. Tagging birds is very important for


general research, but for anybody visiting this area of Wales, it


allows them a very good chance of identifying our very chick. It does


indeed. With the wing tack, they are highly visible. If the bird is


perched, you will be able to see that. It is important, if you get


records, to send them into the appropriate organisations.


probably will stick around because they do tend to stay in the area


where they were born. They do, they move away but then they come back


to this area. He gives a problem when they are reintroduced because


they are not spreading quickly. There are better birds in my humble


opinion however. I have a crazy love for one called the woodcock.


Last winter, I was fortunate to meet the scientist called Andrew


who works for the game conservation and wildlife trust, and he went out


in the night, court a woodcock, and I was able to hold the bird whilst


he attached a data logger to the bird. He then released this bird


and it disappeared into the night. What was it all about? The 74%


decline in would Cox had been measured, they are now on the Amber


List and we want to find out more about them. Andrew caught another


bird in Cornwall, and in the springtime it flew all the way


across to Austria, then it flew across to part of southern Russia,


and then by 23rd April it had returned to the south of Moscow


where it bred. It then came down to part of the Ukraine, across to


Belgium where it stayed only for a fleeting visit. It then moved to


Kent, before going back to Cornwall where the data logger was recovered.


This was a journey of 9179 kilometres. I used: it is because


most of it was across the modern world. That was 5702 miles. An


incredible piece of technology telling us so much about these


birds. It is not the only piece of gadgetry helping us through this.


can talk your technology. We saw some fantastic pictures of cuckoos


from Liz, but what about our cuckoos. They had been tagged with


a very special Tracker. This is where they were yesterday. Slightly


bad news for me, but first of all - remember they had been named after


Chris and myself - Chris is down here and almost ready to make the


jump. That is how I feel! I was ready to move north. It was like


this on the Isle of Man, always moving in one direction. But this


one has gone further south. What I love about this is that you get the


data and then that tracker switches itself off and it takes 48 hours to


recharge the batteries, then we get another dose of data. We can follow


this on our website. We have had only one winning recovery from sub-


Saharan. In a few months' time we will have so much data, it is so


exciting. Now, the quiz. Correct on the website, Nicola, Louise on


Facebook - it is a grey seal. To all of you who thought it was a


badger, here is a badger. A lot smaller. There are badgers this big


out at night, I wouldn't be walking...! It is now time for


another Springwatch investigation, into a bird which court controversy,


one which we all have an opinion on. Magpies. None of us likes to see a


little trick being killed in the back garden by a magpie. But do


they have any overall effect on our songbird numbers? Should we kill


Magpies, like the rest of the crow family, are known for their


intelligence and adaptability, but there is no getting away from it -


they are also unpopular with many people because they raid nests


taking eggs and chicks. Magpie numbers have doubled since the


1970s, whilst many farmland and garden birds have suffered dramatic


declines. So, is there a link? Are magpies responsible? I am going to


ask the experts, first up the RSPB. Here is the crucial question - do


magpies make any difference at all to overall survival rates for


garden songbirds? No. That is great, how can you say that? My pies have


lived alongside songbirds for millennia and songbirds can deal


with the present. Their strategy is to have lots of youngsters. They


are masters of probability. They know that having lots of youngsters


means they can cope with the presence of predators. Simple as


that. That seems pretty clear cut but there are still many people


culling magpies. I am here to one of them from the Conservation Trust,


who trains people to use these traps. There is the catching half,


and that is the half where the decoy bird lives. How does this


work? We put this out in the countryside,


and the crow or a magpie comes to trace the intruder away. In the


process, they get themselves caught in one of these catches. So it


lands on that and it is nailed in there. The captured birds are


killed but Mike is convinced Colin magpies is necessary. We are


confident that this is important in mushing populations of -- managing


populations. Your main focus will be on game birds which you are


breeding for shooting round here, but are you also concerned with the


I don't know how important the control might be in relation to the


other species. It turned out to be more complicated than I thought


this question, now I'm about to go to the BTO, the headquarters of the


British Trust for orntholing. If we are going to clet clarity, it's


going to be here. The BTO undertook some very, very detailed research.


Here is the paper. Can you summarise, what were the results of


that research? We looked at 3 0 song bird species and seven


predator species, both predators on adult birds, sparrowhawks and


kestrels and predators of eggs and nestlingings. There were very few


significant relationships between the growth in the predator


population and decline in the song population and decline in the song


bird population. The bottom line, from this evidence, seems to be


that magpies, which is what we started off looking into, probably


have little or no affect on overall countrywide population of our song


birds? That is right. Another organisation isn't convinced that


it can be dismissed entirely. don't pretend it's the major factor


necessarily because habitat, nest site, food supply is probably as


important, if not more important. It's an important factor which


hasn't been looked at thoroughly. That's really tricky. There's paper


after paper, this is 21 different organisations, all of them are


coming up with the same, the principle cause of song bird


decline is more about changes in land use use. More likely to be, is


that actual? Even though song bird survival aren't yet satisfied


nearly all the papers I have read conclude that song bird declines


are duh to habitat issues. It seems it can be a problem at local level.


Even the RSPB control magpies and crows on some of their reserves.


Some occasions the bird populations have fallen to such an extent duh


to changes in habitat that a predator can be the final straw.


You are talking about a small isolated population that is on


their knees. There we look to reduce the potential impact. I have


spoken to the experts. One thing is clear, unlike the magpie itself,


this issue is far from black-and- white. I still think there is an


overwhelming weight of evidence to show that magpies have no overall


effect on our song bird populations. Last night I was at home, looked


out the window, at the nest box, a magpie flu in and sat on the branch


next to. It I knew what was going through that magpie's head, it was


checking it out. I was outraged. I would have rushed out and knead fly


away. I stopped and thought, it doesn't matter how much I know, my


I have to say, I agree with Martin. It's one of those issues use. You


know magpies are doing it to survive. Every bird has a right to


survive, it doesn't make it ease wrer when you see a magpie raiding


the rest in the garden. Under dogs I'm a fan of magpie and nature


finding its own balance. This debate could go on and on, it will


do. You can join our message boards. Take a bg a look at this piece of


Take a bg a look at this piece of film that has been sent in this is


a sparrowhawk chased off of its eggs by a crow. The crow then comes


in, the hawk grabs hold of it and pulse it away. It comes back for a


second attempt. When you think it's about to peck, in comes the female


sparrowhawk again. A great tussle takes place. It's very brave of her.


She is smaller and lighter than that crow. She is. She is trying to


protect her resource. Neither seem to want to give up. There is a sad


end to this story. We don't see it here, the crow came back. They are


so persistent. It came back and was seen pecking out the sparrowhawk


eggs. They have a place in the grand scheme of things. He is


absolutely heartbroken. Another bird we have been following, since


we have been here on site, is the osprey. It's not actually on this


reserve. It's a kilometer down the estuary. It's part of the Osprey


Project. It is incredibly exciting. This is the first time that ospreys


have nested here in Wales for 400 years. That is four centuries. She


hatched out three chicks. We were worried initially. This is a first


time mum. She didn't seem to be getting feeding very right. Chris,


we can see, not only are they catching fantastic prey, this


estuary is full of fish, particularly at the moment, after


all that rain, sea trot and salmon running up the estuary, those


chicks are doing really well indeed. Productive waters here. We are


running short of time. Liz down there in Essex, are the Pitsea


waterways proving fruitful too? They really are, Chris. Not just


the Riverways, the ditchs as well. They form part of a water treatment


system. When it's clean enough it returns back to the Thames. Within


the ditchs we found cuckoos, rumour has it that a special little mammal


is lurking in amongst the reeds as When you are tracking wildlife you


have to know what signs to look out for. This rare mammal makes its


small burrows around four to eight centimetres in die amateur on the


bank's edge. If the burrow is inhas been ated there may be a grazed


area around the entrance. The animal I'm looking for is the


elusive water vole. It might be the UK's fastest declining mammal,


there is plenty of evidence of there is plenty of evidence of


their presence here. This is really interesting, classic tell-tale


signs of water vole activity. This is one of the favourite food of the


water vole. All around here are nice broken munched on pieces.


Small piles of cut rushs are good clues, to be 100% sure it's a water


vole look for the tell-tale 45 degree cuts to the stems. Niche


areas, full of scat, mark breeding territories with droppings around


eight to ten millimetres lock long with a distinctive green colour


when you crush them. That is, definitely, definitely very fresh.


Which means there's lots of water vole activity here. Time to get the


traps all over this area. I'm going to put some bait down, in the form


to put some bait down, in the form of apples, let's see what we get.


So all the signs were there. We had our cameras set up, everything was


looking rosy am we were putting apples out there it attract the


water voles. There is another well- known rodent who is partial to


coming up to the bank, what is it? It's furry, it's a mammal. Look at


the tail. It's very long, it has no fur on it. Those ears are fairly


obvious, they are protrudeing, the nose is long. That is a brown rat.


Look at what it's trying to do. It's trying to get into the water.


That is why it's often confused with the water vole, like the vole,


with the water vole, like the vole, it likes water, it likes to swim.


Yes. No real surprise there. Where ever you find water voles you tend


to find brown vat rats. You will find it happens all the time. So


did we give up? I tell you something, the Springwatch


adventure team never gives up. It's a mantra of ours. Take a look at


a mantra of ours. Take a look at this. Now, it may have taken them a


few days, our specialist camera man, Sam, I think, has got what we are


looking for. Where did you get these images? Earlier this morning.


R Look at that. You can see it coming out of the hole there.


Devine. A little water vole face poking its head out. Ah! That is


the apple we baited. Finally. cute is that? Excellent. Such a


result. So glad to see that. It's very clearly a water vole, not a


brown rat. Look at that rounded blunt nose and orange teeth and the


lack of protrudeing ears, all a dead givaway. How many days did it


take you to get that? About three. That is good footage here. How


gorgeous is that? Brilliant. Good job, well done, Sam. That is lovely


to see. Our ditchs do have lots of ammonia can live in them. Insects


living in it because they can get oxygen from the air. Mammals are


living around the water at PH, it's not really toxic. The bacterial


load would be our problem with our humans. We couldn't handle that.


Mammals are tougher than that. The wildlife here is tougher. Water


voles can live around this area. That is good news. They are the


UK's fastest declining mammal. Great to see them making a home


Great to see them making a home So where are we so far with our


landfill adventure? We have seen how we throwaway far too much


rubbish. We have seen how it provides food and shelter for


wildlife. We have seen how the landfill produces gases leechate.


We will see how the land is giving back to nature. We are also going


to laugh in the face of fear because we are taking on the curse


of Springwatch Badger watching. We will see you tomorrow. Liz, you are


one brave girl, I can tell you. If you get badgers, we will be


extremely happy. Can I say thank you to ab ris with University for


the loan of this skull. Let's go to our herons. Yesterday both were off


our herons. Yesterday both were off the nest. Now the two are back.


Maybe being attended by their parents from time to time. If I was


a heron I would head back there too, frankly. Have a look at our


oystercatcher. Let's go to it live now. The reason that I want you to


look at this bird. You are thinking, "Kate, it never really does


anything" tfplts has been behaving Audley. I think those eggs are


about to hatch. Keep an eye on them. I might be completely wrong. Never


in a million years. Bbc.co.uk/springwatch. Now


tomorrow? Tomorrow, after three weeks we get to grips with some


plants. I meet astonishing orchids. Chris and I leave the Isle of Man


and go somewhere else to continue our adventure. Four! Why play golf


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