Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games have all the latest updates from the Springwatch animal stars in Wales, including herons, redstarts and warblers.
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I offer you a redstart. Raise you a barn owl. Surely a Royal flush of
herons will win any hand. Not so fast, my fine friend. I might have
a black-and-white ace up my sleeve. But there's no need to gamble at
all. True. If you want the best of British wildlife, you are in
exactly the right place. Stay tune Hello and welcome to Springwatch.
Coming to you from the beautiful RSPB reserve at Ynys-hir. Just rook
at it. What a fine evening we've got. A bit of sunshine raining down
on the hills behind us there. A bit of geography at the start of the
show. Let's see where we are. Here is a map of the UK. We are in Wales
towards the west central. Zooming in, that's the spot where we are
and here is an aeriel view of the whole of the reserve showing its
rich array of habitats and all of those home to some fantastic
animals. It is. Although we have only done one show so far, the
wildlife has completely taken over our lives. Well, there's one family
in particular, this one, the great spotted woodpecker family. If you
were watching last night, you will have seen two chicks fledge. This
is the third. Did it go? Are there any more? We don't know. We'll be
finding out a bit later in the programme. We've also got some
potentially now great stars for you, stars of Springwatch coming in the
form of one of Britain's most favourite animals, barn owls. Take
a look at these. We have a nestful of birds here and they've been
active over the last few days. so exciting to have barn owls back
on Springwatch. There's been a long time since we have had them live in
the nest, so something for us all really to enjoy over the next few
weeks. Now, we also have one of these. It
is of course a badger set. Mr Packham made a prediction about
this set last night. Was he right or was he wrong? I was a bit
sceptical. Let you know in a few minutes' time. But I can be
absolutely certain that Charlie Hamilton-James has got to grips
with some of Britain's most exciting new mammals up in Scotland.
All right, guys, I'm investigating the first official trial
reintroduction of beavers. We have some cracking stuff lined up for
you tonight so come back to us. We certainly will. Now, let's start
with one of our new families, the great spotted woodpecker. Let's go
great spotted woodpecker. Let's go straight to the nest now. There's
nothing there at all! But... Just teasing us, one of the chicks. Now,
Chris, when we were watching them yesterday, we saw the adult birds
feeding and tempting out these very grown-up looking chicks, two of
them fledged, but we actually have no idea how many chicks are in that
nest. No, we haven't, no. There is a narrow diameter to the hole, only
one chick can get out at a time. There are six, maybe seven out
there. Two came out, another is visible, so there are three, but
could be even more inside. I've got to tell you, it's not a pleasant
place inside that nest. Really? the adults don't remove the foetal
sacks, so you are looking at two weeks potentially of perhaps six
baby wood peckers pooing away. That's not clean, like many of the
nes we've seen so far. So you would think that the chicks would be
absolutely desperate to go out. -- nests. We have had our cameras
fixed on the nests all day. This is what happened earlier. We saw the
two fledglings from yesterday and I'd asked you, Chris, whether the
adults would be able to cope with having chicks in two separate
places. They don't go too far and they make a lot of noise. It's very
easy. That was the second one leading. That was the third bird
leaving, immediately another one's head appeared so we knew there were
four in there. It's almost like a conveyor belt, one goes, the next
pops out. This could run and run because we don't have any idea how
many chicks are in there, you don't know how many chicks are in there,
so keep your eyes on the wood peckers and we'll try and get a
final count at some point later today, tomorrow, who knows. We have
another species though which we met yesterday. For my money, one of the
best looking birds in Britain. It joins us for the summer from Africa.
It's the redstart and here is a view inside one of the nest boxs
with a family of redstarts, six chicks in there, not far off
fledging actually. It's a real shame because we've never had this
species on Springwatch before. It is a shame that we've come in quite
late in their development but we are getting wonderful views of the
adult birds there and great views of just how quickly they develop.
You saw the adult taking out that foetal sack there and how clean the
nest was to contrast it with the conditions inside the woodpecker.
Beautiful male. A stunning bird. Look at the wing flapping going on
here. My goodness. I don't think this one is even trying to fledge.
It's trying to do this, look. It's getting itself into an optimum
position to get the food first. It can see the food coming in the
entrance with its parents so it's hopped up to have the first go at
it. Such extreme confirm tition. They will all successfully fledge,
but it's a case of who gets fattest first to get out -- extreme
competition. That's the nest box you can see against the tree.
Inside, we can see the chicks all looking still quite alert, Chris,
despite the fact it's late in the evening. Yes, it's not that cold
here, quite a few insects still active and the adults have been
visiting many times during the course of an hour. Look how quickly
they've grown. Since yesterday, they've lost all traces of down now
and the flight feathers are getting ever stronger. Could they go
tomorrow? Well, I'm not a gambling man, Kate, but I would say that if
they don't go tomorrow, they'll go Thursday. I think I'm going to put,
yes, Thursday, Thursday. Not a gambling man but I say Thursday.
He's not a gambling man for a jolly good reason. Because yesterday, Mr
Packham made a very wise, considered wildlife prediction.
Look at it. Absolutely derelict. I would never met on a badger turning
up there in a million years... was Mr Packham, our own Mr Packham,
badger expert, talking about our very own badger set. Let's go live
to that badger set now. Martin, I really want you to be with me to
bear witness to this moment. sorry, Chris. There we are live.
Shall we have a look at the other view. Always going to be empty for
a million years. Yes, it is. So, we could obviously have listened to
Chris and gaveen up on the cameras on the set and maybe put the
cameras somewhere else. But something just told us, no, just
leave them be. Good job. Look what happened at 11 o'clock last night.
What do you think this is, Martin? It's a sort of stripey thing isn't
it. Black-and-white?! Could be a fox, stripey fox. A bit squat,
hairy. Tiny bit familiar to me. think it could be...... Wait a
minute. What's this?! It could be a badger!? Has a million years passed
since yesterday to today, have we been in a time warp? Maybe it was a
fluke, maybe not a badger at all. Hang on, a second badger. Entering
a derelict set. There was never going to be any badger activity.
Isn't it great to see? Great to see! Isn't it, Chris?
It really is, yes. I've never ever been so pleased to see any badgers
in all of my life! So, if you would like to continue... What's that?
Humble pie. Just in case he wants a slice. A slice of Humble pie. Can I
make a point about the badgers. quick one? I would suggest the set
isn't terribly busy hence the derelict look to it. These are
probably visiting badgers. The second one looked like a cub, so
they're probably coming from another part of their territory
popping by, the chances of seeing them again are... Well, I'll leave
that out. Whatever he thinks, I would suggest you keep an eye on
the webcams, they keep running until midnight and start again at
4am. I'm going to bet one thing. You won't see a tyrannosaurus Rex
arrive at that badger set in a million years! You've blown it.
Martin's got a quiz for us. Last night's quiz was successful,
reliked it. We'll try another one which is germane to tonight's
programme. It's a sound quiz. Have a listen to this sound, please. And
again. Do you know what that sound is? Get on the website, get on
Twitter and you can get on our Facebook site and tell us what you
think that sound is. I've got to go to another part of the reserve.
Catch up with you down the magic television line. You are not going
to make it. I am, just talk slowly. Egg all over my face and badger
down my trousers, so I'm doing a walk of shame over here. I studied
badgers for five years, you know. There's the buggy and there goes
Kate and the team. Bye, see you in a bit. Drive safely. If you were
watching last night, you will know that we have invited some guest
natralists to be with us. Charlie Hamilton-James joins us today. He's
in Argyleshire in Scotland. Let's zoom in on south-western Scotland.
Right the way in. This is where he is. What I like about this is the
detail. Last night he was here, but we've tracked him and we know he's
here on the side of the lock. He's in pursuit of another mammal,
having a bit more luck than me, I hope, Charlie.
Yes, it's actually raining! Welcome back to the Napdale forest in the
heart of rainy Argyleshire. I came up here with the Springwatch team
to reacquaint the British public with a creature that was once
extinct here, but now is back. It's the beaver. We've joined up with
the Scottish beaver trial team to get to know them again, to get our
hands on one. We even went out and caught one. So, what have we got in
store tonight? Well, we need to film beavers, that's why we are
here, so we have been out, they come out at night, very secretive
and nocturnal, so we've rigged the place with infrared lights and
cameras so we can see what they are doing and they can't see us. We got
a shot of Christian the beaver trying to fell a tree. Now, did he
fell the tree or get squashed by OK, we are picking up where we left
off yesterday, look. Christian, stop. He's been beavering away.
He's listening for creeking. What he doesn't want to happen is, he
doesn't want that tree to fall on him and squash him. Quite a decent
sized tree, this. And it's very Stiltonite, so there's no wind to
assist the felling. He's got to do all the hard work himself. What
he's doing is, he's trying to cut the tree so that it falls into the
water because it's safer and easier for him to have the tree in the
water. He's almost through it, hanging on by a thread. He's got to
be really careful now. Oh, there it goes. Look at the speed of him!
Never seen a beaver move so fast. But the tree missed him, he just
got out the way in time. If you look back, here it goes. Catches
him completely by surprise. Leaps back really fast and then just gets
out of the way as fast as he can into the safety of the water. And
he just gets away with it. But now it's in the perfect position for
him to get in there safely and start eating the leaves in the
water. That's brilliant. It's the first
time anyone's ever filmed a British beaver felling a tree. But, wasn't
very close, we didn't really see what was going on, what was
Christian doing? We didn't really see the physiology of Christian's
jaws, as he cut down that tree. So, we invited along Simon Jones, who's
the project manager of the Scottish Beaver Trial, to go through this
footage and show us exactly what's Simon, we know that beavers chop
trees down. Can you explain to me exactly how they do it? They have
really perfectly designed teeth for cutting wood. Incredible incisors
which the front covers, as you can see, is orange, which is hard
enamel. Behind is a softer den teen. It erodes at a slightly different
rate, so as the beaver bites and chews, the harder eman Elle create
this is natural chisel front on it. And that's sharp isn't it? How is
that working on a tree stump like this, say? The top teeth are used
more as a grip and it's the bottom incisors that do the cutting.
can see all the tree felling is good for Christian, the beef, and
his buddies. But how is it benefitting the trees -- beavers.
That tree doesn't look very benefitted to me? Fair enough, but
we have to remember that millions of years worth of evolution's given
this tree the ability to regenerate. This tree will regrow. In the
process, it's opened up a hole in the canopy which creates a
different habitat for other wildlife that can use these little
coppice areas within the forest. What species will benefit from this
more open woodland habitat? Because there will be higher temperatures
in here, the ininvert grate braits do well. -- invertebrates do well.
This regrowth is important for the birds. It's a temporary woodland
created by beaver coppicing and over time, it will close up again,
but a new glaid will be created somewhere else a they work round
the water's edge -- glaid. -- glade. It might not all be doom and gloom
if you happen to be a tree that's been eaten by a beaver. I hope some
of you at home learn how you can chop a tree down with your teeth if
you don't happen to have a chainsaw or axe handy. Right, once the
beaver's felled his tree, the first thing he wants to do is eat it. We
have some gorgeous intimate close- up shots of them doing exactly that.
Come back to us in a bit and we'll show you them.
Thank you very much, Charlie. Now, I've made it, just, from the studio
to quite the other side of the reserve absolutely spectacular spot
here. This line of oak trees has proved very productive for us. We
have got a buzzard nest which I think we can go to live now. We are
seeing chick and adult, both of them. Lovely. If we go to the end
of the oak trees, you can possibly see a little black dot there at the
end and that is our river cam just inland from that, there is another
camera on a really handsome bird. Let's go to it live. It's the
oystercatcher. One of the adults there. They're brooding two eggs.
We were a bit worried because one of the adults has a limp and we
thought that would make it very easy to be pre-dateed and if that
happened, sadly those eggs would fail, but the good news is, both
adults have been seen on and off that nest all day. But the real
reason that I've made this epic journey is to come and meet up with
Nigel Bean, one of our mini camera team and, you have managed, the
team has managed, to crack a really great first for Springwatch this
year? We have. It's herons just nesting in these oaks over here.
what is it that makes herons and getting cameras on a heron's nest
so challenging? For a start, they're high up, they nest very
early in the season and it would be very easy to disturb them, to turn
up when they're already nesting. So So we've had to go in very early.
How early? Mid-February in this case. Right. I think we got some
footage of you and the team starting to rig this nest. Let's
have a look at that. So you can see a very wintry scene there. Those
blobs up in the tree, are those the heron nests? They are, yes. You can
see the wonderful dummy camera which we put in early on some
camera mounts so that hopefully the birds will get used to them when
they arrive. The birds aren't using this at this stage. You are putting
these cameras in and the birds can come in, see these weird black
blobs and thinking, they're fine, nothing to worry about? Exactly.
And did that little bit of intrigue work? Well, it seems to have.
Yes, we have got them live for the first time, so really pleased.
is brilliant. What did you do? You had to go up and take the dummy
cameras away and replace them with actual cameras? Exactly. Because
we'd done the work, it was simple, we had take the dummies off, run
the cables and let them do their thing. Fingers crossed. So you
think that at this very moment, we could go live to a heronry for the
first time ever on Springwatch? hope so! Well, Chris and Martin,
are you there? Can you see me? We can. Here we are. Let's all
witness this together, let's go live to the heronry. Yeah!
Fantastic. Look at that. What a fantastic sight. Little halos
around them with the light. Beautiful birds. When I heard we
were going to do this, this got me going. Up trees, what are herons
doing up trees? These are a couple of youngsters, the one closest to
you has the devil's hair cut. rock outfits. Looks a tiny bit
familiar, mate! It is, yes, that was me in the '70s and '80s and
'90s. There are 1,300 henonrys in the UK and 13,000 fair pairs of
them. Because they are easy to find and count, always in heronrys, they
were one of the first group of birds that will have been censused
over time, so we have watched the numbers fluctuate. They don't like
hard winters. Let's see what was happening in this very henonry over
the last few months. Here is where it is. You can see it's in this oak
tree. This is a dentry... They started nesting when it was very
much alive because they like to choose trees which provide them
with some shelter. You can see the cameras which are looking at the
birds. They know there is no leaves and the weather we've been having,
it's very, very exposed. Yes and the number of herons nesting here
has gone down over the years. In 2004, there were 12, now there's
only four active nests there. Here is a nest with some young one doing
wing-flapping exercises. We are seeing a lot of wing-flapping
exercises. We have been watching some of the nests can greater
detail. Let's take alike at one that we have stuck our camera into
in the last month or so. Wow, what a view! Here are the chicks. One of
the four chicks. One of them is very small. Yes, the one on the
left. That's typical because they will lay five eggs, up to five eggs,
but the survival rate can be incredibly low, you know, 40% of
those birds might perish. That's not unusual. It's basically the one
that's the largest one gets most of the food, the idea is to get one of
them out of the nest successfully. There's bullying here. They look
like dinosaurs, pteradactyls, fantastic. Stunning. They probably
act them them as well. This is grabbing the beak of the adult to
get it to regurgitate the food into the nest. Here is the adult trying
to avoid being grabbed by the youngsters by holding its beak up.
It's so violent. We don't surely have to go through this? We do,
it's just that when they're teenagers, they're grabbing your
wallet instead. They want to get that adult to regurgitate the
valuable food that it might have flown up to 30 kilometres away to
collect. 30 kilometres? 10-30 kilometres, yes, probably not here
because there is a wide estuary for them to forage over. But if they
are in an isolated henonry, they will fly that far. It's essential
that that food gets to the young. If it were to be regurgitated in a
fracas, it could go over the side, so they want to get the adult to
regurgitate it right there in the cup of the nest so they can grab it.
That's what the beak grabbing is about. So that acts like a bowl.
Then they peck the feathers off the head and it looks shabby, pretty
rough to grow up with. Over the last few weeks, Kate,
Martin and myself have met a great number of fantastic natralists.
Yesterday, we met Mark ef regard, a man who likes his fish. Today I'll
introduce you to an extraordinary lady, Sylvia She wouldon, she lives
in the countryside, where I went to meet her -- Sylvia Sheldon. # Go
wild in the country # Where snakes in the grass
# Are absolutely free... # Those were the days, go wild in the
country where the snakes in the grass are absolutely free. If only
it were true. We only have three species of snake in the UK and
pretty much all are in trouble today I've come to a quiet corner
of the West Midlands to meet a lady who is a true champion of the adder.
The adder is Britain's only venomous snake and has very few
friends among the general public. Yet it's a very secretive snake and
adder bites on humans are rare. Their striking zig-zag patterning
helps them blend into their favourite habitat, but it's also
now being used to help identify individuals. It's as unique to an
adder as a fingerprint is to a human. This remarkable discovery
was one of the insites into the snake's world made by 74-year-old
Sylvia Sheldon. How did you get into adders? I started
photographing them, cutting their heads out and sticking them in this
ancient little book. I was aware that they were very individual.
many do you think you have identified over the years? Hundreds.
Joo they're all different? Yes. I've got to say that this is one of
the most incredible documents I've ever had the privilege to handle. I
was once able to handle some of Darwin's notes and Wallace's
specimens, but this is right up there, it really is. It's so
obviously a fantastic work of natural history. You must never
ever lose this. This must be handed down through generations. It's
absolutely exquisite. Do you have a favourite adder? Years ago, we had
Pawn, followed him for years. ago I had porn but my mother threw
it away. Now it's time for adder mastermind. Oh, yes. Think you know
your adders? I do. That's Marie. Marie is correct. And that is Hue.
And that's broken birch male. Superb. Thank you very much. I'm
going to test you now on punk rock albums. What a slippery customer.
Once upon a time, the singles. done. It's the Jam. Oh, right.
Mod Cons. Well done. Ten out of ten. Surely we are both feeling pretty
smug now. I think we should be. Shall we go and see some snakes?
Yes. It took no time at all for Sylvia to lead me to one of her
study snakes. Yes, this is Marie. Only a young female. Could be a
first breed here. How old is young? Six-and-a-half. If six-and-a-half
is young, how old is old? oldest one we have on the site, I
think he's about 32. I first recognised her in 1984 when she was
mature. Beautiful creature, don't you think? Stunning. Sylvia's
dedication is infectious and it's rubbed off on her grandson and her
close friend Chris. They've joined her in a new project to radio tag
some of the best-known snakes and map their daily movements.
Interpreting the maps is helping reveal much, much more about how
adders use their habitat. So it started under this tree? Yes, went
up here and was mating and combating. This is quite a
traveller, the Marco Polo of adders. This is also a unique opportunity
because we can get underneath the skin of the adder. That's right.
And we charter that course ourselves, can't we. We can. Let's
see what happens. Right. This is remarkable because it's going from
what I would call adder habitat into, look, oak woodland...
woodland, yes. This is the pond here, he crossed over the stream
further up. Yes, this project's given us so much information about
the habitat that adders will use. Really, it's going to help a lot
with manage. -- management in the future, we hope. I hope so.
Sylvia's work and the insight into adder life it's revealing is truly
worthy of geek status, so I struck a deal involving a cup of tea and a
stuffed oodle. You kept your side of the bargain, a fine cup of tea.
Here is mine, the very prestigious geek award, you can make your
acceptance speech now, I'll sit back and enjoy it. Oh, I feel very
privileged to have Mr Scratchy. stoodious one. Very privileged to
have this award. Thank you, Chris. What an amazing lady. She is
absolutely amazing. I couldn't believe... Welcome back. This
reserve is so huge. Wasn't that heronry amazing. Yes, I've been
looking forward to seeing that. How could she have identifyed the
adders from the pictures? I couldn't believe it. To me, every
adder I've met got exactly the same. We didn't fake it, she knows all of
them. I suppose to an adder, me and you will look very similar. Smell
very different. Snakes? Yes, we have reptiles here and here is here.
This is an area just outside the reserve and Lynn zirbgs one of the
wildlife cameramen spotted this -- Lynsey, one of the female cameramen
-- wildlife cameramen spotted this. Surprisingly, one of the birds has
been having a snake bite, or in fact the bite of a snake. This is
the buzzard. Now, they feed a lot on amphibians and have a broad diet.
Occasionally, given the opportunity, they will take snake, not only
grass snakes but also adders too, obviously without being affected by
the vemen. This one is enjoying the grass snake, I'm not sure I'm
enjoying it. Like a noodle. This was like a bonanza. If the snakes
come out in the morning and they're cool, basking in the early sun, the
buzzard sees it, it's an easy catch. That's true. There are other
species which specialise in taking snakes. So the buzzard is actively
hunting, not picking up a dead one, it's actively hunting and nailing
them? Let's go to them live. I wanted to show you something, Chris,
I noticed, just looking at the nest. It's got a lot of new green leaves
in it. They weren't there yesterday. Oak leaves I think. Yes. This is
typical of some raptor species. They decorate their nest with fresh
greenery, not to make them look good, we think it's because the
leaves contain substances which control the parasite population in
their young. So oak leaves here have a lot of what we call tannins,
not very edible for the caterpillars that try and eat the
leaves. Perhaps if they get trampled around the nest, they
release something and that keeps the insects down, that's the theory.
We should try it out here for midges. Let's see and remind
ourselves about that sound, that quiz that we were having. Let's
hear it once again, please. Has anyone been getting us right? Got
any, Becky? Let's have a look. Becky?! Wait a minute. Wrong, lots
of people think a curlew. Kate Derwent on Twitter and Ian on Blog
thinks it's a different species. sounds a bit like a wader. I can
understand why someone went for curlew. Those pipers have that call.
It's an introduced animal and is quite small. We've seen the grass
snakes being eaten by buzzards. Now we'll go over to the eating habits
of the beaver with Charlie Hamilton-James in Scotland. Tell us
about their table manners, mate? Well, haven't got many. Welcome
back to Napdale. We have been filming beavers doing all the
things that they do, chopping down trees, working hard, I think the
phrase is beavering away. But, all of this hard work makes them hungry.
Now, a beaver can get through up to four tonnes of plant material a
year. That's a hell of a lot. That's the difficult of four
Springwatch Land Rovers in food. So, how do they process it all, how do
you deal with four tonnes of leaves and sticks? We got sigh moan Jones
from the Scottish Broofr Triel Scheme back to have a look at the
footage and to explain how they do it -- Scottish Beaver Trial. Simon,
here is the footage we've got. Nice big juicy close-ups for you to look
at. This beaver is looking for aspen leaves. They are really
palatable. Something like an oak leaf which beavers don't like very
much, they have tannins, toxic compounds that plants have evolved
to protect themselves from beefs. So it's like a sweet cup of tea
compared to a builders' cup of tea. So it's the same for beavers as
it's for us. Coming to another area, having a sniff around. There's an
aspen leaf there. This is interesting. You can see, this is
actually the little finger on a beaver acts like a thumb. It allows
the beaver to grip and turn, which is an essential skill for it to be
able to manipulate that closely. So see that little finger has been
used again to grip this branch. Checking it, as it goes, and
nibbling it as it goes. Little twig here. It will nip the twig off,
feeds it into its mouth in one go, like a bread stick effectively.
Sometimes beavers wash the food as well. That's a great shot, it's
nipped it in half and it's effectively got two bread sticks
and it's feeding in bigger stuff. It will strip the bark off. It's
checking along because that's had the bark stripped off it already.
It's made its way to tend of the branch and the beaver will rotate
that branch around, a bit like us eating a corn on the cob or
something, and it will peel the bark off and eat that. Fantastic
footage. Really, really good. Thanks, Simon. I never knew eating
leaves was such a precise art. We have been making it easy for the
beefs here by giving them their favourite food, aspen -- beavers.
But it's not always easy to find food if you're a beaver, but where
there's a will, there's very very often usually a way. Nowadays,
canals are generally just used for pleasure, but in the past, they
were vital for transporting goods all around the country. They were
an extraordinary feat of human engineering. This is the remarkable
feat of beaver engineering. This is a beaver canal. The beavers have
created it to transport goods around their territory. Exactly
what we used to do when we built canals. Now, when you look at these
canals in detail, you realise just how complicated they are. This
looks just like a big pile of sticks, but it's not. It's a mini
dam, essentially a lock gate. It's holding water back here. You can
see there they've built the sides up and created a pool. This is
flooding right back into the forest which is allowing them to go up
into the forest to feed and allowing them safe passage back
down their canal with their cargo. Of all the things that beavers do,
to me personally, this canal building is the most fascinating,
because to have that foresight to be able to manage your landscape
like that in flood areas of forest when you are a massive rodent, I
find quite extraordinary. I'm going to get some camera traps out there
and see if we can get some shots of them actually building their canal
Aren't those canals just a bit cool. We got all the camera traps out,
they're a bit ropey because of the camera trap, but they revealed what
we wanted to see, the beavers using their canals. Now, look at this guy.
He's going up the canal. That's what we want. It's about 8.30 at
night, so it's not quite dark, he's out early because they're usually
nocturnal. He's come up to this dam. I say the dam, this is the big pile
of sticks I showed you earlier. He's inspecting it, checking it's
still intact. If it's not, he's going to fix it. He wants to go up
into the forest beyond into that water above his gate. And there he
goes. Now, looks promising. He's gone into the woods, but is he
going to get a branch and bring it back down the canal. Well, wait and
see. Absolutely extraordinary stuff from
Charlie. I had no idea that beavers were such engineers, high doe
engineers, is that the right word?! Anyway, let's resolve our quiz.
Let's hear the sound once more. OK. Now, on the blog, Craig R got it
right, on Twitter rosy got it right and on Facebook Gill got it right.
It is of course a little owl. Well done.
We'll have a bit of an owl fest tonight. I'm going to start off
with my personal favourite, the little owl.
The little owl really is little. Only about seven inches high.
They're not native to the UK, they were introduced in the 1870s and
1880s and they're visible because they sit on top of telegraph poles
and things, even during daylight. We have been luck you in you have
to catch up with Emily who's doing a research project at Reading
university. What she's doing is, trying to fit cameras into the nest
boxes so we can get a really intimate view of their private
lives, something we have been trying to do for years actually.
And here we are, right inside the nest with a little owl. And so now,
let's catch up with the very latest news and see what's happened.
Now, here is a little owl bringing in food. That's a worm and a vole.
Very Catholic diets. This is interesting. Here is the female.
She's just laid her first egg. How many is she going to lay? She
lays one egg every two days, quite staggered. There's the second. And
now let's have a look. What's she got in there? Three I think, yes.
Four. You can see she's got four in there. She'll start to incubate
them and the male will bring food for her all the time she's
incubating them. Of course, we'll follow the
fortunes of those little owls waul the way through Springwatch for the
next three weeks. Back to Chris and Kate -- owls all the way through.
An owl fest tonight. Time to introduce a new set of stars for
Springwatch, as I mentioned at the top of the show. 200 or 300 metres
away down in the woods there, we have our barn owls nesting. We can
cut to them live now. There they are. You can see the
adult bird is there with a family of four chicks. Looks like the
adult bird has just brought some prey in, perhaps. Some food.
the chicks are feeding. One of them's got it. Probably just about
at the stage where they might be able to swal row that whole. What
you will notice is the one on the right looks significantly big tore
some of the other ones -- swallow. It's not, Chris, because it's the
greediest, is it? No, when she laid her eggs, she started incubating
with the first or second egg, meaning that the last egg that got
laid has longer to wait and it will hatch later. This is a deliberate
ploy. Many birds try to start incubation with the last egg so
they hatch at the same time, particularly if they have to leave
the nest like ducklings. Owls want a staggered set of sizes because
there is a strategy there to make sure that at least one gets out of
the nest. To explain what Chris means, we had exactly that story
played out on Springwatch a few years ago. We had a barn owl family,
it was the last time we had them live in 2007. Originally, there was
seven chicks, two died, so we were left with five, and then
mysteriously, the male bird disappeared. There was quite a lot
of bad weather and the pressure on the female bird to keep feeding
those five chicks just became too much. And so, the survival
mechanism of having smaller chicks in the same brood became very
evident indeed. Have a look at this. This is from 2007 and you can see
one of the bigger chicks, I'm afraid, it looks a little gorey,
but it's eating its siblings, and this one, cies, was the next one to
go -- Chris. Its destiny was to die in the summer time, frankly. It
makes sense, you see, because they've got to get their genes into
next population, meaning they've got to invest in the biggest chick.
It's not unusual. Up to 40% of barn owl chicks in any year, that's a
high year, might get eelten by their siblings. This is actually
relatively common behaviour -- eaten by their siblings. Let's go
back to our barn owls now. We have footage of them feeding, Chris,
they seem at the moment to be doing pretty well to be finding plenty of
prey animals and so we hope that this scenario won't have to play
out again? That's right. We spoke to barn owl expert Colin, he really
knows his barn owls and he said it's likely to be a vole year this
year. Voles go up and down in their numbers. When there are more of
them about, there's more feud for owls. Each one of the chicks will
be after four or five voles an evening. Wow. If there are lots of
voles about, they all get fed and then the sibling infanticide just
isn't playing a major part. Let's hope that doesn't happen. Let's
have another look live at the barn owls. These are going to be a
family that we hope to be able to follow entirely over the three
weeks of the series. While you are enjoying that view, let me say that
we've had a lot of questions on the message board about finding small
chicks, apparently helpless chicks. A moorhen was found by Mo and Suzie
Q has told us about hand-rearing a bluetit. Did they do the right
thing? Well, Martin Hughes-games has been to investigate this common
string conundrum Out for a walk, it's a beautiful
spring day. Suddenly, you hear a rustle in the grass or see
something. This is actually happening and it's happened to me.
It's a baby animal and looks like it needs help. What are you going
to do? You need to think very hard before you decide to pick up a baby
animal. You might not think it, but leaving it alone might be the best
thing to do. I've come to the RSPCA rescue centre in Somerset, to meet
manager Pete and his staff to find out more.
So, Pete, we've come here at probably your busiest time of the
year? Yes, this is definitely the busy season. It's babyboom really
for animals out there, for wildlife. The centres get about a 400%
increase in baby animals coming in at this time ofier. Let me put you
on the spot now. I rode along on my bike and saw a baby rook at the
bottom of the rookry, tiny and I thought, what should I do. What
should I have done? First thing to do is watch and see if the bird is
in danger and if there's no obvious sign of a parent and no nest that
it can be returned to, the best thing to do is to seek advice,
failing that, bring it into us, the best place for it to be. So it's a
matter of watching and making the right decision. If you are unsure,
seek advice from the experts. When it comes to baby birds, if you
spend time observing them, you will probably see the parents come in to
feed them. Some fledgeles will spend two or three days on the
ground before they learn to fly, so they may not have been abandoned at
all. That's something animal nurse Ellie West knows only too well.
They're beautiful. What's happened to these tauny owl chicks?
suspect most should have possibly been left where they were. Because
this is a classic one for the mistake of bringing them in isn't
it because they sit on branches? Yes, they branch. And people think
they've been abandoned but they haven't at all? No, that's the
biggest problem. So there are birds here that really shouldn't be. And
it's worth remembering that whether they need to be here or not, all
these baby birds require a huge amount of work to look after them.
How often will this wren have to be fed? At the moment, every 45
minutes. Different birds need different food, different feeding
times, they're all different, you've got to know exactly what to
give them? That's right. It's very important, so therefore it's not so
easy for a member of the public that's just picked up a baby bird.
How long is a shift? We start add 8am in the morning and finish at
9pm in the evening, but certain things like this little wren
ideally we are probably going to be taking home and start to feed it
about 5am because that's what mum would do. If somebody was to try to
do this at home, they wouldn't have a hope, would they? No, it's a lot
of hard work. Ellie tells me that over 70% of the baby animals they
get here are birds. You will also see baby mammals alone at this time
of year. Again, that's not always a bad sign. Newborn deer fawns are
left in the long grass by their mums for up to eight hours a day.
It's a deliberate strategy to keep them hidden. So deciding if a
fawn's been abandoned is no easy task.
How did he come into you, this little one? He was found by some
members of the public. They heard him crying during the day, they did
the right thing, stood away from it. He was in fact left for 24 hours so
unfortunately he was still crying, a clear indication that something
is wrong, so he was brought into our care.
And you have sadly had an xmpl where things didn't go so well
recently with a deer? Yes, we had a roe deer, probably about a week old,
some members of the public found it and tried to hand feed it
themselves and by the time it got to us, it was severely dehigh
drailted and sadly that one has to be put down because it wasn't a
viable animal -- dehydrated. can see why people do that to help,
but it's an expert job? Yes, it's a huge, huge responsibility. But with
this little one, looks like he'll be all right? He's doing really
well. I know from personal experience just how hard it is if
you find an injured or apparently abandoned baby animal. You just
want to step in there and try to help. But what we found out today
is it's generally better to leave it, just watch the situation,
definitely try to get some advice because by the simple act of
picking it up, you could be doing more harm than good.
Wise words from Martin there. If you are still a bit confused about
anything to do with finding apparently abandoned young animals,
please go to our website. There's lots of information on there.
We've had a fantastic response when it comes to sending in photos. No
less than 48,000 have come in to our site, inClaudeing some baby
animals. I've got some. This is a glorious one, a fox cub taken by
Philip. I love that. This is, I have to say, if you are allowed to
have fauf Ritz, I love this one, this is one of lovely wild boor
taken by Ben -- favourite. Finally, a fluffy wader, a lapwing chick and
it was taken by Julian Sawyer. Thank you very much indeed. I
picked out a few that were great photographs in my opinion. This one
is a turn, taken by Keith, super picture that one. This one, a bit
more interesting than beautiful. These are wasp larvae and were
photographed by Trevor and Dilys. Lastly, how about this for a close-
up view of an orange tip butter flay's head. Keep the photo shots
coming in. Now back to Napdale and to Charlie.
Hi, guys. Welcome back to Napdale. Earlier on, I show yod u my
favourite piece of beaver engineering, the beaver canal --
showed you. We rigged the canal and got some ropey footage of a beaver
going up it. But have a lack at this, this is what happened later.
Now, this is a beaver out on the land, dragging this huge stick,
heaving it across the land, pretty hard work and really, he doesn't
want to be doing that. It's not safe, there are predators out there,
he wants to be in the water. So, back to the canal. Here is a shot
of him using the canal and look, he's heading off down the canal,
it's easy, perfect, back to his lock with his food. That's pretty
amazing stuff. As much as I love beaver canals, some would say it's
not their most impressive thing. Beavers are famous for their
ability to entirely change a landscape. Now, how do they do it?
Look at this! This used to be a forest, but now it's a lake.
The reason is this. This is a beaver dam. It's massive. It's
about 15 metres long. And over here, it's about two metres deep. What's
amazing about it is that this was made by a rodent. It's quite
unbelievable. It's by far the biggest structure I've ever seen an
animal build anywhere in the world. So, how do they do it? How does a
redon't create this monstrosity? I'll show you. It all started here.
Now, this used to be a small Forestry Commission drain. Now,
here is the interesting thing about beavers, when they hear trickling
water, instinct tells them to stop it. They have to block it. So, just
here, they started bunging on big sticks, tree trunks, anything they
could get to block the flow and stop that sound of trickling water.
Then they started adding smaller sticks and leaves and mud and
anything they could get their paws on and behind that grew a pool that
started overflowing, so they made it bigger until they ended up with
this. This is 1.5 football pitches of water. It's held back by these
sticks, these haven't been put here pi people, these have been put here
by beavers holding back this vast wall of mud and dirt and anything
else they can get their hands on -- put here by people. They're still
doing it. This is last night's. I get very excited about this. The
ability of an animal to flood its landscape. But, not everyone's as
excited as I am about it. I went to meet a farmer who had a few more
concerns. Robin, what do you think of
beavers? Not a lot. Beefs do several forms of damage, that being
one. Another being the lagoons they make, each family unit requires
something like a hectare of water. That's a lotment. That's a trainage
ditch, I could visualise a dam going there and in time the water
blowing up and this lovely bluebell wood being skramped and all the
trees here, their roof would be under water and the trees would die,
the roots would be drowned -- swamped. It would be like a
battlefield. Amageddon! I have a lot of low-lying farmland. I spent
my life trying to get rid of water and keep the pasture. The last
thing I need is beavers stopping the water going away. So Robin, do
you think beavers should be released back into Scotland? That's
up to others. I would defend the right of Scottish Wildlife Trust to
release beavers as long as they're held on the land belonging to
Scottish Wildlife Trust. Once they get out and adversely affect
somebody else's land, then that's not so good. This farm has never
had beavers and, as far as I'm concerned, it never will.
So, clearly this is a subject that's being watched by landowners
all across the country who probably have similar concerns to those that
Robin aired there. There may be positives though. It's said that
beavers can help the environment and help other animals and possibly
even help the economy. It's a complex debate and one that we are
going to cover in more detail tomorrow. Join us then.
It is a complex debate isn't it? Fascinating. Can I just interrupt
briefly. I have my copy of Gerald of Wales, his journey through
Wales... Never without it! walked through Wales in 1188, a
long time ago, and he says "the river has another remarkable
peculiarity of all the rivers in Wales, it's the only one where you
can find beavers". They had beavers here, wild beavers here in Wales in
1188. I hope they're back here by 2088, I have to say. Let's go and
do a final check on our lovely redstart family. Let's join them
live now. There are the chicks. Looking very Bonnie indeed. Will
they go tomorrow or will, as Chris predicted... Thursday. He
reckons Thursday. Shall we have a look at the gorgeous herons.
Fantastic. Herons with the setting sun with that hair cut. Terdack
tolls. Wing flapping. You can keep an eye on the characters by going
to the website. That is how you send us your photos and videos and
you can get all the information you need. If you have had your finger
on the pulse, you would have noticed a sad story of 0 tonne
sperm whale washed ashore this morning on Redcar beach. Tomorrow,
we are also investigating a stranding of our own where we delve
into the physiology of these remarkable animals. We'll also be
looking at beautiful, British butterflies and how they're faring
this year. We'll be going up and looking into the world of the barn
owl. Yes, loots to look forward to. Now, don't forget, 7.30 tomorrow
Catch the latest updates from the Springwatch animal stars - herons, redstarts, warblers, swallows, egrets, red kites and many more - as their real-life family dramas unfold daily. Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games have an update on all the news from Wales.
In Scotland, Charlie Hamilton-James is getting to grips with the beavers, which are making a comeback after being extinct in the British Isles for more than 400 years.