Episode 2 Springwatch

Episode 2

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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


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