Episode 3 Springwatch

Episode 3

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We don't need to hold auditions. know that our stars will be wild,


unpredictable and enchanting to watch. They sing and dance, some of


them can turn their heads to almost 360 degrees. This is Britain's


great wildlife, live and uncut. Hello and welcome to Springwatch


coming to you live from the beautiful reserve in Wales. We were


hoping to see the sun. There will be no chance of that. What we can


promise you is real wildlife in real time and lots of it.


absolutely, can. If you have been watching over the last couple of


days you will remember this delightful little family. It is our


great spotted woodpeckers. Three had fledged while we were on air


yesterday. Two left, or are there three, or are there four? Who knows.


Wait to find out. We will be investigating the psephology of one


of the largest mammals to visit our shores. A sperm whale stranded


itself in Kent, we went to investigate. I love that word.


a big word. A proper word for a proper animal. We would love to


introduce you to a brand new family to Springwatch. Here she is. Let's


to Springwatch. Here she is. Let's have a look at her. A delightful


little bird. Well, what's she sitting on in that nest you will


find out in a few moments. We want to try and do something with some


of the 48,000 photographs that you have already sent into the


Springwatch Flicker site much we will ask you to vote on them. We


have selected six of our favourites. If they have to vote on 4,000 that


will take a bit of time. I got it wrong. These are the photographs we


have selected. You can now vote. Come on to the website. Look at


that. There is an action theme going on. A badger on the air.


the website, or you can tweet us or use our brand new Facebook site and


tell us which of those was your favourite. Can I vote? You are,


absolutely - He can't vote. Also tonight, we will have our


first unsprung. What is unsprung? We answer your questions, look at


your photographs and some of your videos. You make it sound like it's


well planned. To be honest, that is the programme right now, I kid you


not. Can I leave you and flesh it out? We will join you in an hour.


That would be good. See you later. Let's go north to Scotland to see


Charlie Hamilton Jones investigating his beefrs. Good to


be back. We have a fascinating show tonight. We will look at the


response of people and animals to beavers being back in Britain. Kate,


no doubt that is, at the moment, a very controversial debate. I'm keen


to see what Charlie finds out there. It has been busy down here. It has.


Let's go to our great spotted woodpeckers. Yesterday, we watched


as three of these, absolutely, delightful chicks were persuaded


out of the nest, one, two, here is the third. We knew there was a


fourth in the nest, it stuck it's head out in a convenient way. This


morning, as you can see, the adult was tempting it out. There was a


fifth, fantastic. So, we watched as the adult, you can see there,


tempting it out with food. Was it going to fledge? Lots of calling


and noise. There it went. Chris, five chicks fledged. How many can a


great spotted woodpecker lay? or seven wasn't common. There was


every chance there could be another woodpecker in there. Let's go live


to the nest. There isn't. There is not another chick in. There I can't


blame them. They have been in there 20 to 24 days. It's a small chamber.


It's been smelly and Mesicy in the last couple of days. Where are they


now? Our cameraman has been following them all day. They are


being fed by the adults. We will shut up for two seconds. Have a


listen. There is so much noise, Chris, from those fledglings,


calling, constantly calling the parents. The parents calling. I


would have thought that was a disastrous strategy. I thought the


whole point was that they got out of the nest and hid and kept as


quiet as possible. You would think so? If you are walking in the woods


and you hear this you know you have a fledged group of woodpeckers


there, they make noise. The hawks will hear it and come and farm the


woodpeckers one by one and take them away. The adults will fight


off predator fs they come in. Nevertheless, woodpecker ferss


goshawk, I don't think so. We have all five at the moment. Don't


despair. Let's meet our new family. This is a beautiful, beautiful


little bird. One I'm particularly excited about. We have had them on


Springwatch before, only once, it was a very long time ago. Can we go


inside the nest. Don't tease them any longer. There she is. She is a


pied flycatcher. She's not giving us her best view at the moment.


us her best view at the moment. There she is From the top. I can


tell you, that she laid six eggs. Four of them have hatched. And,


Chris, before we go to the chicks, Chris, before we go to the chicks,


can we look at the bird. Take a look at the male. This is what I


call a stonker. What a stunning little bird. These are sub-Saharan


migrants. They spent the winner in the Congo. They have flown 6,500


kilometers back here. They migrate at night. They get here around 19th


April. When they arrive they take up their territories in the


woodlands. The oldest males get here fist first. They advertise


themselves to females. The females choose the male. Normally, they


will look at three or four before they make their decisions. They are


striking little birds and typical of these really productivity Welsh


oak woodlands. Which is why we haven't seem them before. Not many


around Norfolk area. No. Plenty around here. We feel very, very


lucky we can bring you privileged lucky we can bring you privileged


views like these. This was early days. We didn't even have the light


on the nest. You can see beautifully there six eggs, and we


watched, absolutely entranced, as they began to hatch. She was coming


in, brooding them as they hatched. We are seeing the exact moment it's


emerging from the egg. She was behaving like the perfect mum. She


would come in, remove those eggshells. Why is that so


important? If they fell out of the hole, prams knocked out, and


dropped outside the nest hole they are a sure sign to a predator there


is a hatch brood inside much she will carry them 100 meters before


she drop them. They will eat them sometimes to recover the calcium.


We will look at a brood here of four youngsters. Four, is that


four youngsters. Four, is that decent? Yes, it is. Many of the


others have fledged. This is a clutch has been re-laid or there


might be something else going on. In the past, you have had unusual


behaviour? Our story developers who watch the cameras almost 24-hours


aday have noticed a certain bit of behaviour. Have a look at this.


Both BT on Monday, there's the male, pops out of the box, has a look


around. He disappears. Nothing unusual about that. Might be


unusual about that. Might be collecting food. The female


continues to come back to the nest. No sign of the male. There is no


sign. He could have nipped in and we misted him. It's female, female,


not much sign of the male. looked into the box, as if to say,


"everything all right"? He was off again. You may remember, if you


have a brilliant memory, what happened the last time we had pied


flycatchers on the programme. The males, well, they can behave badly,


can't they? We will not make a snap can't they? We will not make a snap


judgements. We will keep watching this nest. Let's have another look


this nest. Let's have another look at them. You can keep watching it


We loo keep an eye on it and see what story emerges. I think, Kate,


you will find it happens all the time with those pied flycatchers.


The prediction of the Packham. Dangerous, given last night. Each


week we will be joined by a guest Prenter. Each one of them a great


naturalist. This week we are joined by Charlie Hamilton-James. He is up


in Scotland in Argyllshire, just about here. If we zoom in we can


get his precise location. I like satellite tracking our Prenters.


satellite tracking our Prenters. Here he is. He's on the side of


this loch. The reason you are up there is that you are looking and


exploring the habits of our Take a look at this. This is a


small loch, created by this dam, built by the beavers. Now, that is


a monster dam. It's a real feat of engineering, by anyone's standards.


Not everyone is as excited about it as I am, the idea you can flood the


landscape. Some people have concerns. I met a guy who had a few.


I can advisualise this blue bell wood being swamped. This farm has


never had beavers, as fas far as I'm concerned, it never will.


clear that not everyone is as - think it's a favour of having


beavers back in Britain. There could be a business opportunity in


there. 56% of tourism in Britain involves some kind of wildlife


watching. In rural areas, that I'm on my way to meet Lynn bruise


who run as local B&B. She thinks beavers could help herpes. She has


one iconic animal bringing in the bunters. I have come along to grab


a glimps. Gsh glimpse. You will show me video footage. This will


eclipse anything we can get. Yep. Look at. That did this happen by


mistake that she started coming here. Did you see her and encourage


her in? We bought the bird table because we expected red squirrel.


We noticed the food we were putting out was clearing over night, which


wasn't bird behaviour. We came out from the kitchen and we noticed it


was a py Martin. It's a unique selling point. That is one of the


two babies from last year, feeding on rasins. Pie Martins normally eat


small birds and mammals. They also like Lynn's home baking. That's it.


That is all you do. That is feeding them. What is that?Muffin Left over


from breakfast this morning. guess now we just wait? We just


wait. She will come soon. Soon, how long is soon? Is that - How long is


a piece of string. I have only seen one before. It ran out in front of


my car. I almost ran it over. Hopefully, today I will get a


better view. Yeah, I can see her. She comes at least once a day.


Every day? Every day. She's bigger than I imagined. About the size of


a small cat. She is. It's really windy. She gets skitish when it's


windy. She can't hear what is going on around her so well. She looks


nervous. She is sitting right under car. Do you get lots of people


coming up specifically to see her? Yes, many do. We have people who


come back time and time again, they want a second look. Do you think


beavers will do the same thing? imagine so. Many people have come


here to stay here who are keen of seeing the beavers. Have they?


have had to come back because they didn't see them first time. It will,


hopefully, keep them coming back again. It's another dimension to


things people can see and enjoy. I'm chuffed cos I saw a pine Martin.


It was under a car. It was alive under a car. It was. She was


stunning. She came out the other There you go, a pine marten


benefiting local tourism. Could a beaver do the same? Beavers don't


just possibly benefit people. They also benefit animals, and there is


one that is very close to my heart. Come back in a bit and we'll meet


I don't want to tell Charlie, beavers are OK, but pine martens!


know. Did you remember when we were in the Cairngorms filming? They are


just magnificent creatures. We look forward to hearing more from


Charlie later in the programme. Now then, I think it is about time we


went over to another family that we introduced you to yesterday. They


were miff sent. They are big. They are leggy. They are grey and they


are herons. Here they are, live pictures of a heronry, a real coup


for our mini camera team. Two youngsters here, Chris. They also


look like fully-grown adults. we are not entirely sure how old


they are. I'm going to guess 45 days. They do spend quite a long


time in the nest, but they are doing what they should be doing,


preening, making sure their feathers are coming through


correctly. They were in the throes of fledging. They one of those


birds, like birds of prey, that take their time fledging? They will


leave the nest, come back, hop to another tree, and then come back?


When the herons are reliant on the adults they rely on regurgitation.


At the moment they were very nestcentric. We've been watching


them over the last few days. It has been windy up here and they've been


exercising their wings as it has been blowing. That's fantastic.


Wouldn't you love to be able to do that? I wouldn't like to be trying


at the top of that tree. No, but look at the size of that wingspan.


Nearly 2 metres. About 1 metre 95. The feathers are almost through.


They typically leave around the 50 day mark. That one dismered


completely! And then gravity saves him or her. You can't tell them


apart at this stage. It is difficult to tell female and male


herons anyway. When they leave the nest they will probably come back


for a time before they disperse to the south and west. You mentioned


feeding and it is quite a sight to behold. We've got various time


where is the chicks have been fed by the adults on camera. This is a


particularly extraordinary view I think. This is where the chicks...


think. This is where the chicks... This is typical, they drag the beak


down of the adult to try and encourage the adult to regurgitate.


To ensure that it ends up in the nest. That's a whacking great fish.


It is, but Chris, I know you are not a gambling man, but if you were


to put money on it, could you identify that fish? Not given that


blurry view. Luckily though, we have a story developer who, like


our team of story developers who watch our cameras all the time, who


clearly has a slightly unnatural knowledge of fish, his name is


Robert McDougall Davies and he gave us notes on the stuff that he had


seen yesterday. Listen to this. loving this. Between fish came in


we slowed down the footage and I was able to identify the fact that


it was a brown trout. Because of the position of the fins, and,


crucially, the colour of the fish. I can't even see the fins on that


fish. But anyway yellow hue to the belly showed that it was brown


trout. It is called a slob trout, but slob trout is usually more gold


no-one appearance. The interesting thing here is that it tells us that


the heron almost certainly caught that trout in fresh water rather


than in the estuary. And heed that the stream that runs past our site


contains trout, and in brackets, "I've seen them." Frankly if I had


a hat I would take it off to him. knew you would be impressed, so I


took it upon hie to award himself with the honour of the geek. And


here is the photograph of him with his award. Robert, thank you very,


very much indeed stkphrflt Good on you, I -- good on you, I say.


Does it swallow the fish? I bet it does, because they have a wide gape.


That young heron gets that brown trout right down its throat. Will


they feed that trout in the same way that we've seen with


kingfishers, where we go down the same direction of the scales?


Headfirst. Because of the direction of the scales they don't want it to


go straight down, so they switch it round so it goes headfirst. We've


had one tremendous geek. I think it is time for another, because when


you think about it, you've got to eat these greasy, slimey fish. If


you are a heron, how do you stop that mess ruining your plumage?


When it comes to staying clean we've got things off to a fine art


Our kitchens we have dishwashers. And when it comes to our personal


plumage a range of gels and lotions which do the trick. But what if you


which do the trick. But what if you are a bird? Like this rather


magnificent Drake. When we think of feathers we think of the contour


feathers which give the bird its form. Then its flight feathers,


which allow it to fly. But there is another important group of feathers


called the plumules or down feathers. Some of them have


ratchets but radiating off that is a lot of soft, flexible, insulating


material. This is all about keeping the birds warm. You will know that


if you have a feather-filled duvet or kues. But what if you want a


fish supper? The likelihood is you will get that oil over your


feathers. What are you going to do about it? If you are a heron, you


have specialised down, powder down. They grow it on their chest and


backs, and when they preen it the barbs turn into a scaley dust, a


bit like talcum. It is there to be preened in all over the body, where


the oil is, so it soaks it up into a coing a lated mess -- coagulated


mass. If you are a heron you've come up with a solution and it


comes in the form of the centre toe, which is pectinated, which means it


has a comb on it, so you can comb that coagulated mass of powder down


and fish oil out of your plumage. Fantastic. What's the point of


being a human? I would much rather be a bird, and if I were to be a


bird I might choose to be a Drake's Let's look at this. These are our


Let's look at this. These are our herons preening.


They were absolutely doing... have their powder on their chest.


What I'm wondering, one of our viewers might know, are their toes


already pectinated? Let us know on the message board. From herons to


something smaller, perhaps a little brighter. This is the time of year


to celebrate one of our most beguiling insects. Bask in the


the emergence of a true British treasure. Symbolic. Objects of


fascination. Inspiration for artists. And adorning our


countryside with colour. Seeing your first butterfly gives you the


sense that spring has arrived. And the warm days of summer lie ahead.


I look forward immensely to seeing each new species of butterfly every


season, because we have spring butterflies and high-summer


butterflies and late-summer butterflies. And its reacquainting


and strengthening of relationships with old friends. And there is


plenty to get to know. We have over 50 species of butterflys in the UK


and they've been living alongside us for thousands of years in our


woodlands, field margins, parks and gardens. But butterflies aren't


just pretty faces. Oh, no, their private lives can be complex and


fascinating. Take the large blue for example. The caterpillars hatch


out and feed on wild thyme. But then they trick a species of ant


into taking them into their nest underground and here they eat the


ant's own grubs before emerging again the following year. You've


got to agree, butterflies are butterflies have been in serious


trouble. And the statistics are fairly sobering. It is really bad


news for British butterflies. Over the past three decades or so three


quarters of our butterfly species have declinds. It is a massive loss


of many different species. Five species have become extinct in


Britain completely and many others are threatened with extinction.


understand why our butterflies are suffering we have to uncover their


complex and fascinating lives. To do that we have to start at the


beginning. Female butterflies are notoriously picky about exactly


where they lay their eggs. Some butterflies only breed on a single


species of plant, white Admiral for example only breeds on honeysuckle.


But most of them breed on plants from a single family. Purple


Emperor breeds on a type of willow. They are choosy, these butterflies,


and that makes them sensitive. As soon as that plants has gone they


become extinct in that place. They lead fast lives, so they respond


quickly to these change. And the reason they are so fussy? It is


because of these. The key to a butterfly's success is getting the


right food plants for their hungry catter pillers, and unfortunately


these plants have been disappearing from our countryside. The big


problem that our British butterflies have faced is the loss


of traditional ways that we manage our farmland and our forests. They


are now increasingly restricted to small pockets of habitat, small I


flands a sea of otherwise inhospitable terrain. It might be


intensive farmland, housing, roads and so on. They really need to be


able to move through if landscape. But with that landscape changing so


fast and such specific and different needs, it is no wonder


that they found it difficult to cope. But there's a simple solution


to their complex problem. Understand the species and then


make space for its needs. We are lucky we know a lot about


butterflies in brings probably more than any other country in the world.


They respond so quickly to change. We can reverse some of these


declines. The perfect example is the heath fritillary. Its food


plant, common wow weed, grows in sunny woodland grades. When


traditional forestly methods stopped, the clearings covered over


and the butterflies came close to extinction. But by changing back to


the original practices, in Kent the heath fritillary is thriving once


again. It's not all bad news for butterflies, by in means. The truth


is they pliv in a different dimension to us and their


populations yo-yo up and down depending on weather cycles and


what's happening to their habitats. They can boom or bust. We want to


They always make you smile a butterfly. They certainly do. There


was an under current of bad news for butterflies. This year started


well for some species. Orange tips and holly blues have been in


abundance. We had this dry and warm spring. That might have killed some


of the fungal inflections and some of the parasites. It might change


now. If it's so dry, then the bramble flowers, which are coming


out, an an essential nectar source might dry out and not do terrible


well. It could be a mixed season. It will be interesting to find out.


Interesting to see how Martin is coming on with the programme. How


is it going? Thank you. We are getting ready for Unsprung, have a


look at this. Can you see that? Amazing skeleton. We always have a


really fantastic guest on on Unsprung, the programme after the


main one. Come on in, if you would, here is tonight's guest, Ben. Thank


you for coming along. Look at this. This is a, sort of, what would you


call it, Ben, a season that you have cheat created? Yes. This is a


season. What can we see her, please? An adult male fox here,


with a tiny rat under neath. It's the bit before the rat - Highly


drama. It's pouncing in skeletal form on to the rat we will find out


why and how he does it and whether he has a sense of smell, later on.


Don't forget that picturemontage. Let's look at the action pictures


we have selected. We would like you, please, during the programme and


into Unsprung later to vote for your favourite of these action


photographs. Brilliant. Back to Kate and Chris. Thank you, very


much, indeed. Just something. The ever lasting shame. It must be


relinquished. That was only last night. And, it may, may I remind


you, we will a conversation about one of our characters yesterday,


live on air. We talked about the red star chicks and you said


Thursday. What day is it today? slipped my mind. It's Wednesday.


This is the scene that greeted us in our red stark nest today. There


we are, six chicks. One leaps into the hole, does it go? Oh, I would


say that was a fledgling. It fell out accidentally. Hang on. Is it


going for food? No, I think, maybe, it likes the great out doors. Two


of our red starks have fledged. On Wednesday! When I predicted they


would go. Yes, all right. Sorry. The smugness, it's's raid ating


like heat. Three-bar fire alongside me. It's true. Can we go live there


to see if there's any left. There they are. Four of them still in


there. I don't think they will go this evening. They have, as we have


been talking to Martin, jumping up and peeping out of the hole. It's


hung they're is thriving them. It tempts them to leave. It would be


unwise to leave at this time in the evening. I think they will probably


stay there until tomorrow. What's my opinion worth?! What's Lovejoyly


about looking at them is you see the colour that gives it its name,


that real red in the tail. Pretty little chicks. If I were you I


would keep an eye on them early tomorrow morning. Chris, one of the


things we noticed about watching these birds is just how often they


have been fed. Both adults have done an excellent job. Have a look


at their development over the last three days. So, we've got the


three days. So, we've got the adults coming in and out. There's


the male. Such a handsome bird, and the female. They are really busy.


Coming in at least every two minutes for an hour. Certainly, in


the middle of the day. Bringing in a great range of prey. Look at the


young. It's a test month to the richness of this environment.


is what I was going to say. It's not like they are going outside and


picking up ready-made foods. They have to find their prey and catch


it. The prey doesn't want to be found. A lot of it is camouflaged


and mobile and active. There must be so much active insect food out


there. You know what, Mr Packham would quite like a graph to show


would quite like a graph to show the feeding rates. It's not unusual


to see me cry. I'm so pleased to to see me cry. I'm so pleased to


see this. This is comparing the feeding rates between the male in


feeding rates between the male in blue and the female. Throughout the


course of the day, morning, afternoon and evening, the male is


feeding almost twice as much as the female. More feeding, of course, by


both sexes in the middle of the day. It's warmer with more insects about.


What a graph. If this is how much they are feeding, what are they


they are feeding, what are they feeding on? Let's have a look at


this. We've got the footage of them being fed. And, there we go. Now,


you can see, it does seem to be a you can see, it does seem to be a


huge variety of winged and squiggy and more winged and long-legged.


All sorts of things, Chris. sorts of insects coming in there.


Our story developers have been keeping a keen note and a skilful


eye on a tricky thing to spot. That was a very large going down the


throat there. A mixture of insects which they have been recording, all


of the an animals seen brought in. I have the world's first fly pied


programme. Bottrill What surprises me are the number of winged insects.


Could it be that the redstarts are competing with the pied


flycatchers? Are they feeding on something different? We will keep


our eyes peels to find out. Let's head back to Scotland to see what


head back to Scotland to see what Charlie has for us. Welcome back.


Tonight, we are discussing the debate surrounding the re-


introduction of beavers to Britain. But first, let's indulge ourselves


in beaver magic. I'm canoeing my way around a beaver loch. A loch


created by beavers when they made this dam here. Now, with all this


water trying to get out of the dam, how do they maintain it? How do


they keep that dam in tip-top the area from all these ripples by


the dam. There's one. He looks nervous. He is having a sniff.


These beavers are cautious because there is the scent of a cameraman


in the air. Yes, loo rook look at. That that is classic nervous beaver


behaviour. That is a tail snap. That is what they do to warn other


beavers there might be something dangerous around. It looks like


it's relaxing that one. It is. OK, that is a classic more relacked


beaver role. You can see a bubble trail by the tree. That is the dam


on the right at the back, where that tree is growing up. What is


this guy doing? Look at that. Amazing. He has come ashore with a


load of mud. He has collected it from the bottom of the lake. He is


piling it onto the dam. Putting his whole body weight behind it. Not


all beavers build dam. Only two of the four beaver groups in Knapdale


have built dams. If you have plenty of food there is no point. It takes


huge time and energy. They only really need to build them when they


need to. This dam needs constant maintenance. Look at. That they are


maintaining it, building it. The more they build it, the more stuff


they are taking out of the bom bottom of the lakes, the deeper the


bottom of the lakes, the deeper the lake is getting. Now, he's off.


Pretty cool stuff, isn't it? But it gets cooler. We had our cameras out


on this dam for four nights. You have just seen some of the best


stuff that we got. But, there was one thing that happened, another


animal appeared. Have a look at dark. We are right here, exactly


this spot on the loch. It's getting out of the water. Running up the


dam. What is it? It's an otter. So, the otter has come out of the


beaver loch and over the beaver dam and heading off into the night.


Then, later on, the otter returns. It's swimming past here. Having a


look at the camera. He can smell the cameraman. Otters more nervous


of people than beavers. He is not going to hang around. Instead, he


going to hang around. Instead, he will head off into the loch. So, if


you saw a beaver and an otter, how would you be able to spot the


would you be able to spot the difference. Top -- It has ears


poking up and eyes pointing forward. The beaver on the left low, flat


head. Eyes on the side. When the otter is swimming along, the


otter's whole back of its body is out of the water. You can see there,


it's head, its tail, everything. When the beaver is swimming along


its head and shoulders. Otters spend more time time under water


than beavers. Beavers generally swim around on the surface. Those


swim around on the surface. Those are the key differences. So, why


are the otters using this lake great created by the beavers? It's


simple. They are full of fish. The beavers are helping the otters


because they are creating a place for oters to catch fish. Simple,


isn't it? No, because nothing in nature is ever simple. Some fish


might not benefit from beavers being back in the landscape,


blocking up rivers. Come back to us in a bit. That is another bit of


the debate that we will look at next. Thank you very much, Charlie.


Now, it's closing in a bit, to be honest with you, this evening.


Let's cut live to our buzzard's nest to see what is happening over


nest to see what is happening over there? She is doing what I thought


she might be doing. She is doing a good job of brooding her single


youngsters. We can't see it at all. We can't see it now. We have lovely


footage of her feeding this youngster. Which is thriving in


front of our eyes. We had grass snake yesterday. We have a frog


there. Is that rabbit? That's a grey squirrel. It is, I can see the


tail. That might please some people seeing a grey squirrel going down


the inside of a buzzard. Well, now, that, surely, Chris, pose as


problem. We have been following the fortunes of another bird of that


isn't nesting on the reserve. It's a little way away. It's an iconic


bird for whales, -- Wales it's the red kite. The Red Kite Trust have


given given us access to film this. A magnificent bird. She has a


single chick. She is feeding rabbit. Do we now have a situation where we


have kites and buzzards, potentially, out competing each


other? Competing for the same resource? An interesting question.


It's difficult to answer. We had a period when both the kites were low


in number, and the buzzards were in number, and the buzzards were


low in number too. Buzzards sunk through persecution and misuse of


pesticides. They have bounce bounced back. Kites have been re-


introduced they are commoner than they were. We will have to wait to


find out. Both of our birds have one chick. This has to be test


month to the amount of food that is out there for them to eat, perhaps


the number of rabbits. The adult will need to build up its reserves


to produce a clutch. If there is wunge in each there are a lot of


competition or not enough rabbits to go around. Good point. A story


to watch. From the skies to our seas. We do have some absolutely


wonderful biodiversity in the seas around Britain. Sadly, it's


wildlife that we tend not to take much notice of until it gives us a


surprise. On the 3rd March this year, at 7.30 am, coastguards were


alerted to something unusual in the water in Kent. I have never seen


anything like this before. When I saw the tide was going out, I


thought, I must come down and take the opportunity to take a look.


Incredible sight. It makes you feel insignificant, looking at something


like that. As the water receded, it revealed what had washed up on the


beach that morning. The locals couldn't believe it. Everyone was


quite shocked, weren't they? They have been texting and phoning


people. To see this, it's amazing. It's so sad. It was identified as a


sperm whale, nearly 14 meters long. What was it doing there? How did it


It may surprise you to know that sperm whales aren't foreign


visitors to our waters. In fact in northern Europe the greatest number


of sperm whale records came from the British Isles. They were the


largest of the toothed whale family. Maems can grow to 18 metres --


males can grow to 18 metres. They can dive to 100m, and remain


can dive to 100m, and remain submerged for up to two hours. The


Pegwell whale is a mystery, and its appearance raised interest not just


from the general public but from a team of specialist researchers.


team of specialist researchers. Today we had a phone call on the


way into work, one of my colleagues, to say there's a stranded sperm


whale on the beach in Pegwell bay, which took me by surprise and the


rest of the passengers on my train when I started talking about it.


This is our day job really. We help to co-ordinate a Defra-funded


research programme to identify strandings around the UK of


dolphins, whales and porpoises. We think this is a juvenile. Just to


put into it context, every year around the coast of the UK there


are 500 strandings of citations. Each year there are five or six


sperm whale strandings in the UK. We are here to examine the animal


and find out what may have happened to it. Around our shores sperm


whales are generally found around the north coast of Scotland. But


one wrong turn south can lead to disaster. We see commonly


strandings of sperm whales around the East Coast of the UK. They seem


to lose their way. Once in the North Sea, which is shallow, they


can't feed. They can't get food into their diet and become


dehydrated and go downhill quickly. Although it is ufts for this


individual, it is a tragedy that this animal has died, we can learn


a lot about them. We can learn more about their biology, their ecology,


what they have been feeding on. That feeds into conservation of the


species per se. By sampling skin for genetics and blubber for marine


contaminants Rob and his team can learn a great deal in just one day.


Sperm whales spend very little time at the surface. Revealing only a


fraction of their lives, as they stay mostly at depth, feeding on


squid. So strandings provide an amazing opportunity for research.


One sperm whale tooth. Obviously quite a gory process but it is


important for us to get the tooth, because we can age the animal,


count the growth rings, like you would with a tree, the annual


growth rings, and this gives as accurate assessment of the age, how


many contaminants has it absorbed over its life span, so it is


important to get this, albeit a messy procedure. The Pegwell whale


will now be taken for a full autopsy to find out why it ended up


on this beach in Kent. Thank for joining us this evening.


Let's kick off with an important question. Broadly speaking, what


have you managed to discover so far about that whale? We had a juvenile


male sperm whale which strand, probably alive, on the bases of the


post mortem. There was no evidence of feeding. Starvation effectively.


Because they get all their fluid from their diet, it was dehydrated.


Unfortunately the animal got lost and went the wrong way and


eventually stranded. Can we look at the tooth, in its less gory state.


This is the one you removed? This is from another animal, from 2003.


We were prepping the other one. was fascinated sen you said you can


age the animal from its tooth. Does it mean the tooth that it has from


when they are born they have all their lives? That's right. The same


set of teeth can last their life span. We can count the annual


growth rings and see how old the animal is. It is a lengthy,


laborious process. And there's been another stranding, at Redcar.


You've been up there already. You've had a busy 24 hours. We had


another stranded sperm whale yesterday. What was interesting for


me personally was the similarity of the one in Kent. A similar animal,


a 14-metre male, probably juvenile. No evidence of recent ingestion of


prey, staining in the intestinal tract which showed it had not eaten


for some time. If they go the wrong way in the North Sea, it is a


ticking clock for them. Both these strandings have been males. That's


right. And both of them you think have got lost. Why the males, first


of all? We only ever get males in the UK, there seems to be an


element of population structuring, so we seem to have juvenile males


hanging around off the Continental shelf. We have matriarchal


societies and bachelor pods, so we only get male strandings. What


causes them to come into the North Sea? We don't know. Wood cuttings


from the 16th century show strandings all around the North Sea


coasts, so this will carry on happening. What we don't know about


them. These animals are living out there, they are large mammals and


so many of their physiology we don't understand yet. Absolutely.


It keeps Rob in a job! It does. Every case is different and


interesting. There is so much more to learn about them. Sperm whales


spend 90% of their time underwater. Every time an animal strands we can


learn so much about them, and help improve their conservation status.


Thank you so much for coming along. We are going to head back north to


hear the rest of the fascinating beaver argument. Charlie.


Welcome back to the big beaver debate did. Now, tonight we are


looking at the positives and the negatives of reintroducing the


beavers back into Britain. We've seen the otter and we've seen how


it can benefit by having beavers around. Beavers create lakes, fish


like lakes, and otters eat fish. But, there might be a problem,


because not all fish benefit from this. Some fish are migratory. Fish


like salmon and sea trout, and they may not like all these dams put up


in their way. So the other day I went to meet an expert on these


things to see what le had to say effects that beavers are going to


have on fish trying to migrate up the rivers? The main problem is the


building of these dams, which create obstacles to fish migration.


Salmon and tea trout need to have access to the upper rivers in order


to spawn. And indeed we spend a lot of time and money removing


obstacles that were created by man. We fence off livestock, encourage


tree growth. The problem with beavers that whilst we've been


planting trees and removing obstacles, they remove trees and


build obstacles, so it's the obstacle issue that's the prints


pal concern. Not only is Andrew worried about


the disruption that beaver dams might cause to migrating fish, he's


concerned about what happens when beaver numbers start to increase.


We don't have any of the top predators that would control beaver


populations. We are looking perhaps some years into the future when


these populations might become well established. It is going to be, how


does one manage to population in the absence of top predators. We


need to make sure all the risks have been assessed and then make an


informed decision. Let's look at the different aspects of this


debate and try and sum it up. We met Robin Malcolm, a farmer and


landowner. He's worried that beavers on his land could cause


problems by flooding it. We've problems by flooding it. We've


looked at otters. They can benefit from fish and the ponds created by


beavers create habitat for otters. And then we met Andrew, a fish


expert, who said they could cause problems for migratory fish,


including salmon and sea trout. But let's not forget Lynn, the B&B


owner, who thinks they could be good for business. What do we do


with this information? Don't we need someone who has thought about


it all? We have. We've got Simon Jones, project manager of the


Scottish Beaver Trial. Her is what he has to say about it. I'm mon,


we've had a little taste of this debate about whether beavers should


be back in Britain. But is there any overriding thought we can take


from the whole bigger debate? It is perfectly understandable that


people are going to have concerns about the return of the beaver. The


main thing to really force home is the fact that this is a trial.


There are many organisations involved to try and produce the


science and the information that we need. So as well as the trial


partners, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the


Forestry Commission. It is monitored by Scottish heritage who


will answer to the Scottish Government. It is a monitored trial


process that will run for five years and hopefully provide us with


answers. These are your beavers, in a sense, your babies. You don't


really want to see them go at the end of the trial, surely? You've


invested so much of your time into getting them here. Exactly, and


with many other people and organisations as well. And I'm sure


many local people and people nationally don't want to see these


animals go. We know that the beaver has many benefit for wildlife. The


loch behind us was produced by beavers. We've seen the amphibians


and dragonflies. It is not just about the beaver but what it does


for our native wild life. That said, we know there's a cost of living


with beavers which we have to accept and be upfront about it.


They may occasionally build dam where is we don't want them to or


fell trees where we don't want them to. At the end of the day the


Scottish people and Government have to examine the benefits of living


with the beaver, and the costs, to decide whether we should live with


this animal again. Personally I think we can, but time will tell.


hope you enjoyed that debate as much as you enjoyed the beavers.


What have we got for you tomorrow? I've been set the ultimate


challenge - can we bring you live pictures of live beavers here on


these lochs in Knapdale? That's the big question. Will they be out, or


will they be in bed? You'll have to come back tomorrow to find out.


Thank you Charlie. Kate, to beaver or not to beaver?


would say owl. Let's look at our owls, which we haven't seen. The


adult there with her gorgeous chicks. And while you are looking


at that, you can keep on eye on them by going to our webcams on


bbc.co.uk/springwatch. What have we got tomorrow? Tomorrow


Matt Hamilton has made a beautiful film about the mayflies on a river


in haimpshire. It is stunning. we will have everybody's prickly,


spiky friend, the hedgehog, and answer some of your questions about


this little animal. I'm throth to mention it, but will or -- I'm loth


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