Episode 7 Springwatch


Episode 7

Reporting live from mid Wales, Chris Packham, Kate Humble, and Martin Hughes-Games catch up on all the animal dramas.


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Transcript


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It's Wednesday, so that means... We've got 90 whole minutes of

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wonderful wildlife. Including punk herons. A gluttonous buzzard And an

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insect that builds its own disguise. And that and this little guy too.

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Hello and welcome to Springwatch, coming to you from the beautiful

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wooded slopes of the RSPB reserve in Wales. Tonight we've got all the

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usual ingredients, the best of British wildlife coming to you live

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in real time. You can't beat that, so stay tuned. If you were watching

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yesterday, you watched an extraordinary draum yawn fold in

:01:19.:01:25.

our pied flycatcher nest. What happened today? We'll tell you

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later in the programme. We need your help to solve a mystery, what

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is scaring our barn owls? The spiky quiffs and the naughty undertones

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of these herons are going to allow to us bring fantastic music into

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the show a bit later on. They're teenagers and they kick each other,

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that's a clue. Normally at this time, I'm setting a quiz for you.

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We're going to do it differently tonight. We'd like you to ask us

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questions. If there's any question, any question about anything that

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comes up tonight, then ask us. We'll try to answer the questions

:02:05.:02:12.

live as it happens. What can you do? Ask them on the web, on Twitter

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or on our Facebook site. Get them coming in. If we can't answer them

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on this programme, we'll try to answer them on Unsprung. Talking of

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that, hop it. Get it ready. I hope he'll leave a trail of breadcrumbs.

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As well as all, that we have got everybody's Welshman Iolo Williams

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on an island not too far from here. Welcome to magnificent Skomer

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Island. Today is United Nations world oceans day, when we should

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all be celebrating the wealth of our seas. That's exactly what we're

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going to be doing here on Skomer as well as catching up with our

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puffins. We're looking forward to that. If

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you were watching last night's programme, you'll know that we had

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a very real drama here. Some of the birds that we've been watching over

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the last couple of weeks, well, they got into all sorts of trouble.

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It was our pied flycatchers and It was our pied flycatchers and

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this is what we saw happening until last night. This was the female.

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She had been looking, not entirely well. Her chicks were OK. She was

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feeding them. Then she left them for a long time. Sadly one of those

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chicks perished. She came back with food. Sadly she left them for so

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long that they'd got rather chilled. As you could see they weren't

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taking the food then. The male came in and tried to feed. Sadly another

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chick had died. By the end of last night's programme we just had two

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of the four chicks surviving. However, we finished the programme

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feeling cautiously optimistic because the male had been in and

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fed and the female was still brooding them, but in the middle of

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the night, she started to lock a bit twitchy, as you can see here.

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She left the chicks again. Now this was very bad news. She shouldn't

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have been leaving them in the middle of the night, particularly

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if they were already feeling a little bit cold. She was back.

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Still brooding. We kept everything crossed that maybe they were OK.

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But as you can see here, this was this morning. Three chick has died

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and one was looking very, very unhealthy indeed. On the brink. She

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continued to come in. She's got food. Obviously they're not at this

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stage able to appeal for that food. She has nothing to do with it. She

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tried to brood them. I'm afraid that the last chick had frankly,

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run out of energy and despite the fact this she was now trying to

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keep it warm, when we looked at them at about 6.30am, it had died.

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This is what's happened through the rest of the day. Both parents are

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confused by what's happened in here. She's continued to come in and

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brood them. The male has been in and out a couple of times. But

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sadly, those chicks have finished and the nest is over for this year

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at least. It is a great tragedy, nobody wants to watch the great

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loss of an entire family like that. The confusing thing is that we've

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seen chicks die over the years. We've been doing Springwatch for a

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very long time. It's just one of those things that happened, but

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they seemed so robust, when we first met this family. They do. I

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have to tell you that 30% of all the pied flycatcher broods that

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hatch are destined to fail before they fledge. Weather is one

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contender for why. We haven't had weather that's too rough. It hasn't

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affected the abundance of food. The adult washlers have been in and out

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with food. The female's body weight, goes back a few days, as to when

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the male wasn't attending. You think, she's got a lot of energy

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into producing this. She'd laid the eggs, sat there brooding them, unk

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baiting them until they've hatched. Not able to feed at maximum

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efficiency. What she was hoping for is that as soon as they hatched,

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the male would help out, so she could build up her reserves again.

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But it didn't happen. If the male had been more atentive, she could

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have fed herself. The chicks would be carrying on being fed by the

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male. Instead, she had this huge pressure to keep the chicks fed,

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but at the same time, was losing weight herself, needing to feed

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herself, which meant that she left the chicks for longer periods.

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they got chilled. In the end she's going to make the decision that she

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looks after herself. She's an adult breeding member of the population,

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that's the most valuable part of any population. She had to feed

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herself up and as a result, the chicks have sadly been sacrificed

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this year. Fingers crossed she'll be back this year and successfully

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rear a brood. That nest was full of bad news but we had fascinating

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behaviour in another nest. This is what we saw last night. Our barn

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owls were coming back to the nest with plenty of food. There's voles

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and mice being brought in. When this one comes in, they kick off at

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something. This is very, very strange. The chicks are looking

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like there's a threat out there. Then the female or adult bird, at

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least, is making this really distinct warning or alarm call,

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very typical of barn owls. This hissing, they will also go into a

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powerful display. They fold their wings forward and sway from side to

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side if they get really upset. You can also hear a clicking sound that

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the chicks and adults are making. This is typical of tawny owls and

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barn owls. What's really interesting is that she is clearly

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looking at something, there is something and unfortunately

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whatever that something is or was was out of sight of our cameras. We

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just didn't know what she was looking at, but then we remembered

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something that the story developers recorded last week. Have a look at

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this, it's the chicks and they are making that same sort of alarm call,

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just listen to this: (HISS) You can see again fixated on something, as

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is the adult bird. They're looking down out of the window. They're not

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looking at the camera. It sounds like they're trying to inflate a

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Zeppelin or something. This is antagonistic behaviour. Something

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is outside. If you were listening carefully, just before they got

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agitated can you hear this sound... That might have been the thing that

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set them off. I honestly don't know what that sound is. We've asked

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everyone around here. None of the other tholjists know what it is

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either. Frankly, if you do, let us know.

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Do you think you know what that is that might have antagonised those

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chicks? Contact us on the website. You could contact us via Twitter or

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the Facebook pace as well. Now we've got a bit of news about the

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Ospreys. We certainly have. Great news, as you saw yesterday. For the

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first time in more than 447 -- 400 years three chicks have hatched.

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They've been fed today Kate. They were worried about them. It was a

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first time breeder this parent. They've all been fed and doing

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really well. We will keep you updated. We will. Now as Iolo

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Williams said, it is world ocean day today. He is going to be

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celebrating the beauty of the seas around Britain. Let's just remind

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you where he is. We're just off the coast of mid-Wales. He's a little

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bit further south, just off the tip of the coast. If you want to be

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more precise, he is extractly at that point there.

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Over to you. Warm welcome back here to Skomer

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Island, where it has been a stunning day. I've escaped for a

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while. I've come down to north while. I've come down to north

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haven to this lovely beach. This is probably the most cosy and peaceful

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part of the whole island. It's also a wonderful place for me

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to introduce you to Skomer's amazing marine life. Now the seas

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around the island and the nearby Marlowe's peninsula, are one of

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only three marine nature reserves in the whole of the UK and

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deservedly so. The strong currents and upWellings mix nutrients into a

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soup. You have the gulf stream, this warm current of water that

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comes all the way from the Caribbean. This is where it hits

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Europe. You have a mixture of cold water loving species and species

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that we would generally associate with the Mediterranean. When I had

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the opportunity to go diving beneath the waves, I grasped it

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thing is under water might not be as clear as I'd like it to be. When

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the visibility is good, it is out of this world, but I'm just hoping

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the murk in the water is tiny particles of food that most of the

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animals here feed on. The sheer variety of creatures and colours

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down here is just mind blowing. This is a sea cucumber and the

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whole floor here is covered with them. Spider crab here. This is a

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small one. They can grow to be a metre across and more.

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But a lot of the animals that Skomer's rich in could easily be

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taken for plants at first sight. They're brightly coloured and don't

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move. They wait for the currents of the sea to bring their food to them.

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These are yellow anemones, one of several species found around the

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coast of Skomer. They simply grow another anemone, hence the carpet

:12:54.:13:04.
:13:04.:13:17.

Ross coral or a potato crisp rhyosome. It's a series of minute

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creatures living together. You can see a pale fuzz along the service,

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those are the tentacles filtering these nutrients out of the water

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and these other things are able to flourish here on Skomer because it

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is a protected area. There's no trawling with nets, there are no

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boats mooring everywhere. These are beautiful, but very, very fragile

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too. But there was one animal above all

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the others that I wanted to see. This is the pink sea fan, usually

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associated with warmer waters. It's at the northern edge of its range.

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It gives the place a tropical feel to it. It's a soft coral, quite

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fragile. It will bend with the swell. They say this in cold water

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grows at most a centimetre every year. This must be 50, 60 years old

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here. Wrapped in it is a dog fish egg case. Look at that.

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Every square sentiment -- centimetre of rock is covers in

:14:31.:14:41.
:14:41.:14:49.

It's like diving in tropical waters. Some of the things I've seen down

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there, I've never seen before and I never, ever thought you'd find them

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here off the seas of Skomer. It's an incredible place. If you get the

:14:57.:15:07.
:15:07.:15:11.

I have to tell you that was a wonderful experience. A huge thank

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you to Phil and the marine nature reserve team there and, of course,

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rich seas mean a rich Skomer island. When you come back to us, we are

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not going to stay on dry land and wait for the puffins to come to us.

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Oh no, we are going to go out there to look for the puffins.

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How wonderful, I have to say I was extremely jealous of that dive. It

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looked fantastic. Getting cold and wet in Welsh water! The wildlife

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and the animals and plants there are mind-blowing. We look forward

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to joining Iolo later. We have come down to what we are calling heron

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point. The studio is half a kilometre back there. We are here

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and beyond the trees over there is where our herons are. You can't

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quite see the nest because of the foliage but we can cut to them live.

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Let's see what they're up to. are getting fairly typical views of

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this. We see two hunched young herons looking, well, a little bit

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brassed off with the weather. They're sulking really. Their heads

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are are under their wings. They're going to stay nice and warm.

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They've been very active. They have been very active. They don't just

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sit hunched lying that all day long. Have a look at what they've been up

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to over the last day or so. As you can see, one looks like it's

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just taken off and fledged, but, Chris, both of them have really

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been trying out their wings and amazing legs. They are jumping

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right up and about in the trees, using air currents to help them

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because they're not accomplished fliers. They keep coming back to

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the nest, this is where they're getting the food from the adult and

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they know they're safe from predators. But they're great little

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characters these herons, I like them. I like the quiff. You have a

:17:11.:17:19.

still a bit... -- a style a bit. used to be. This has inspired us,

:17:19.:17:23.

we thought why not play the greatest pop record of all time, as

:17:23.:17:31.

defined by John Peel and underlined by the Undertones, I give you

:17:31.:17:41.
:17:41.:17:48.

# A teenager dreams so hard to beat # Every time she walks down the

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street # Another girl in the neighbourhood

:17:53.:17:56.

# Wish she was mine, she looks so good

:17:56.:18:03.

# I wanna hold you, hold you tight # Get teenager kicks right through

:18:03.:18:13.
:18:13.:18:25.

Nothing beats that! Not my choice, Kevin Carter suggested that one

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actually. Did he? Well done Kevin. Exhausted! Now, they haven't just

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been falling around in the nest, there is the serious business of

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learning how to feed. Our wildlife cameraman caught this wonderful bit

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of behaviour, these are our fledgeling herons, doing what they

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do best, stabbing those great beaks into it's water to find food. But

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not very successfully. No, they're getting bits of grass and weed and

:18:53.:18:56.

mud at the moment. But what will happen is they'll probably follow

:18:56.:19:01.

the adults to an area where there is a rich supply of food and the

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side of a small fish will catch air air attention -- will catch their

:19:06.:19:10.

attention. They'll realise the reward is sa meal for themselves.

:19:10.:19:13.

It's a case of practice makes perfect and I am glad to see

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they're out there doing that. will be fed by the adults, they're

:19:16.:19:21.

not just going to be relying on mud and leaves? Not at the moment.

:19:21.:19:29.

That's why they're back on the nest. We will see the adults carrying, or

:19:29.:19:33.

still regurtitating food into that nest. It's not just the herons,

:19:33.:19:38.

again beyond the trees, we have our Buzzards. Let's see what's going on

:19:38.:19:43.

there. There is the adult bird. Fresh greenery that's come in

:19:43.:19:47.

recently. We have been noticing this over the time we have been on

:19:47.:19:52.

air, bringing in fresh green leaves which you think, Chris, might have

:19:52.:19:55.

some sort of effect to keep insects or parasites away. There's got to

:19:55.:20:00.

be a reason for it. No Buzzard is going to spend its valuable time

:20:00.:20:03.

snapping off fresh greenary, carrying it back to the nest and

:20:03.:20:07.

putting it there. We think, in some birds of prey, that when they

:20:07.:20:17.
:20:17.:20:18.

trample the leaves they give give off chemicals which have - insect

:20:18.:20:23.

icidle qualities. Now, as you saw there, the chick

:20:23.:20:27.

was quite well hidden, both by the adult bird and all those fresh oak

:20:27.:20:32.

leaves, but if you have been watching on our webcams, which you

:20:32.:20:36.

can do by going to our website, you will have seen the remarkable

:20:36.:20:39.

transformation that has happened to our chicks since we have been on

:20:39.:20:42.

air. This was just before we came on air

:20:42.:20:44.

when the cameras went first on the nest.

:20:45.:20:51.

This is now, today. Look at that, from one grey fluffy

:20:51.:20:55.

Downey chick, to a bird that's looking not far off atkuplthood --

:20:55.:20:58.

adulthood. They have a couple of down coats before they get real

:20:58.:21:01.

feathers. They don't want to invest too much material in feathers early

:21:01.:21:06.

on because they want the skeleton to grow. When they get rid of the

:21:06.:21:13.

down coats the real feathers come true and we started to see them.

:21:13.:21:18.

Vicky wanted to know, a great question, how do feathers grow?

:21:18.:21:22.

They come out like hair, don't they? It's a follicle like our

:21:22.:21:26.

hair? You are exactly right. Birds have thin skin. But in that skin

:21:26.:21:30.

and growing from the time they first emerge from the egg, at the

:21:30.:21:35.

embryo stage, they have a series of follicles all over the body that

:21:35.:21:39.

produce feathers. Initially the feather is a living thing, it's

:21:39.:21:43.

full of blood and keeps carrying material to make the feather there,

:21:43.:21:47.

so at the moment the young Buzzard will be fragile. If you snap the

:21:47.:21:50.

feathers off it will bleed and they would die and it would have to grow

:21:50.:21:54.

another one but when the growth is finished it's all sealed off, the

:21:54.:21:59.

feather is dead tissue, like our fingernail as it were. When they

:21:59.:22:03.

moult them they grow a new one. If a feather does get lost that

:22:03.:22:07.

stimulates the follicle to start a new one. Quite complicated.

:22:07.:22:12.

feathery bit of the feather, that's all sort of curled up in the

:22:12.:22:16.

follicle itself or in the quickly? It's curled up in like a waxy

:22:16.:22:23.

sheath. At the moment you might see birds preening and hen they shake

:22:23.:22:30.

dust comes out,. There you are, I hope that helps you, I hope that

:22:30.:22:37.

answers the question. They've been growing furiously. It's had a

:22:37.:22:47.
:22:47.:23:23.

I love that film, thank you very much to our editors for putting

:23:23.:23:28.

that together. Now you are going to be really impressed. Go on. I have

:23:28.:23:36.

done a pie chart all of my own! Look at that! I just think - now

:23:36.:23:39.

you are going to be impressed, look, we have looked at what the Buzzard

:23:39.:23:48.

has been eating, roughly the same amount of mammals and small birds,

:23:48.:23:53.

a little panchant for the frog and toad. And grass snakes. Are you

:23:53.:23:58.

impressed? I am, if you should ever want to be loved by anyone, put me

:23:58.:24:05.

on the list. Look, it's fantastic. It's statistically accurate, ten

:24:05.:24:10.

out of ten. But the presentation, Kate, I mean, frankly, look it's a

:24:10.:24:14.

bit scrappy. It's not even round. What is that? That's a mouse.

:24:14.:24:19.

a good start. That was my humble pie pie chart. It was a humble pie

:24:19.:24:24.

chart. I think you can do better. am off. I have upset her now. I

:24:24.:24:28.

shouldn't have screwed that up. Let's move on to another film.

:24:28.:24:32.

Charlie elder is a man who wanted to see all of the British birds

:24:32.:24:35.

that were on the amber and red list, those which are critically

:24:35.:24:45.
:24:45.:24:49.

endangered but there was one that A worrying number of British birds

:24:49.:24:54.

have suffered alarming declines over the last 20 or 30 years. A lot

:24:54.:24:57.

of people talk about saving birds for the next generation, but with

:24:57.:25:01.

some of these species the worry is they might be lost within our life

:25:01.:25:06.

Times. One in five British birds are

:25:06.:25:09.

currently considered threatened, not just rare birds, but also a

:25:09.:25:19.
:25:19.:25:21.

number of common birds. Birds like house sparrows, Starlings and heron

:25:21.:25:24.

gulls. To help conservationists prioritise

:25:24.:25:28.

which species need the most help, all of the UK's birds are placed on

:25:28.:25:33.

one of three lists, either the green, amber or red list. Those on

:25:33.:25:37.

the red list are the ones in the most trouble.

:25:37.:25:44.

The red list became a very big part of my life. I decided to set out in

:25:44.:25:49.

my free time to find every bird on the red list and also to find out

:25:49.:25:54.

why these birds were in trouble. My quest took me all around the

:25:54.:25:57.

British Isles and led to me writing a book about my endeavours. I

:25:57.:26:01.

wanted to highlight the plight of the birds.

:26:01.:26:04.

As I was nearing the end of my travels, the red list was revised

:26:04.:26:08.

from the 40 that I had originally set out to see, to 52 and over the

:26:08.:26:13.

last year or so I have been trying to see all the new additions to the

:26:13.:26:16.

list but there's one bird that's been added to the list that I would

:26:16.:26:22.

love to see and that's the hawFinch, it's a notoriously elusive bird

:26:22.:26:26.

that I could spend ages travelling around Britain staring at tree-tops

:26:26.:26:32.

so I am going to have to rely on expert help here angery Lewis has

:26:32.:26:40.

been -- Gerry Lewis, I am pinning my hopes on him. I am excited, this

:26:40.:26:45.

is a striking and handsome bird. It's not often I look forward to

:26:46.:26:53.

getting up at 5.00am. The hawfinch is Britain's biggest

:26:53.:26:58.

finch and it's able to crack open cherry stones with that formidable

:26:59.:27:03.

powerful beak. Gerry coaxes them down with this carpet of sunflower

:27:03.:27:09.

seeds. That's amazing. A brilliant view.

:27:09.:27:18.

They can pick out the size of the bill. That's fantastic.

:27:18.:27:24.

Once caught in the net, Gerry carefully retraoefs the bird for --

:27:24.:27:29.

retrieves the bird for processing and is going to let me hold it.

:27:29.:27:38.

OK, got him. Wow.

:27:38.:27:42.

That's incredible. You certainly feel a bit wary

:27:42.:27:47.

holding one. Especially as I am not experienced and you see the size of

:27:47.:27:54.

that bill. If you put your hand right in the bag and then just let

:27:54.:28:01.

go of the pweurbd. -- bird. Oh, he tried me there,

:28:01.:28:10.

look, two indents there. To be almost pecked by a hawfinch

:28:10.:28:16.

is an honour, this one is a handsome male and his bill is a blu

:28:16.:28:26.
:28:26.:28:27.

y grey colour. It's coming into the breeding season. That purply colour.

:28:27.:28:29.

Gerry inspects the condition, weighs and measures all the birds

:28:29.:28:35.

he catches. You are going to let him join his

:28:35.:28:43.

mates then? Yeah, do you want to... He looks a feisty one!

:28:43.:28:49.

Gerry's work is vital, if we are to understand why hawfinchs, sadly,

:28:49.:28:57.

now find themselves on the red list. They got a pretty powerful flight.

:28:57.:29:02.

That was wonderful. Thank you.

:29:02.:29:05.

There willing something sad for me about my old bird books becoming

:29:05.:29:09.

out of date, simply because many of the birds in them no longer lived

:29:09.:29:14.

in Britain. As much as I love seeing these birds up close, my

:29:14.:29:19.

hope for the future is that the red list decreases in the coming years.

:29:19.:29:23.

After all, my travels had been about celebrating these inspiring

:29:24.:29:33.
:29:34.:29:36.

Profound and poignant stuff. I'm sorry. It's no good to me now. You

:29:36.:29:42.

really want to see me cry, don't you. Any way... Hawfinchs are

:29:42.:29:45.

fantastic birds. A few days ago, I was at home, I was going to be

:29:45.:29:50.

watching a game of football, office on the line, saying one of our

:29:50.:29:58.

viewers, Kirsty Clayton had rung up and said she had fantastic birds in

:29:58.:30:02.

her garden. The game was kicked into touch and it was worth it.

:30:02.:30:06.

Result, not only a cup of tea, chocolate cake! Better than

:30:06.:30:10.

football. Kirsty, how long have these birds been here? I noticed

:30:10.:30:16.

them last summer. They were calling and feeding and stuff. Male just

:30:16.:30:22.

come out bull finch. For me a big scoring bird. I'm going to give it

:30:23.:30:27.

7.8 and that's a very high score. Obviously, you're a fan too.

:30:27.:30:33.

Absolutely. What is it about them? Their plumage is really amazing.

:30:33.:30:39.

They're bright, beautiful. They go like an old couple together.

:30:39.:30:45.

They're very monogamous. There's a likelihood that these are the

:30:45.:30:49.

couple that were in your garden last year. Where are they nesting?

:30:49.:30:54.

There's a camellia hedge just there. I went past and I heard tweeting,

:30:54.:30:58.

they were reaching up out of it with their fluffy heads. What a

:30:59.:31:02.

treat. In true Springwatch fashion, we couldn't resist putting in a

:31:02.:31:10.

nest cam to try and record the chicks. We got some awesome shots.

:31:10.:31:15.

They're out collecting food for the young at the moment. They feed them

:31:15.:31:17.

through regurgitation. They're basically seed feeders. They're

:31:18.:31:22.

after soft fruits. They peel away the outside. They're not interested

:31:22.:31:29.

in the covering. They're after the seeds inside. Their monstrous bill

:31:29.:31:35.

is that they can snap these open easily. The young are nowhere near

:31:35.:31:40.

as attractive as the adults. They're little monsters. Are they?

:31:40.:31:45.

They're grotesque. All beak, bulgy eyed, but at the moment looking

:31:45.:31:49.

rough. They're in the nest for about 16 days and then they'll

:31:49.:31:55.

fledge. Their flight skills will develop for until Mr and Mrs

:31:56.:32:00.

Sparrowhawk arrives and probably take a couple of them. The thought,

:32:00.:32:05.

personally, of a male sparrowhawk eating a male bull finch is

:32:05.:32:09.

perversely a frequent fantasy of mine. Perhaps I didn't ought to

:32:09.:32:18.

have told Kirsty that. Perhaps it's time for a piece of cake.

:32:18.:32:24.

I think she really regretted asking you round. She looked mortified.

:32:24.:32:30.

But those chicks, don't they look like dinosaurs. They do. Very

:32:30.:32:34.

powerful bill. The crushing power of a hawfinch is 43 kilograms in a

:32:34.:32:40.

bird, that's the equiff lebt of us having jaws to crush with the power

:32:40.:32:44.

of 60 tons. They must come pretty close to that I think. Martin, have

:32:44.:32:48.

you got news? I have got to say, quickly, I had three pairs of bull

:32:48.:32:54.

finches on my apple tree. They ate all the buds, but it's worth it,

:32:54.:33:00.

isn't it? Certainly is. Plant more trees. I will. Our barmyi birds

:33:00.:33:10.
:33:10.:33:12.

nest challenge. They have been A robins' nest. Yes, this one

:33:12.:33:18.

they'll never get caught short. They're in a toilet site. They're

:33:18.:33:23.

from David Barnes. Are they flushing their faecal sacks? Stop

:33:23.:33:30.

it. This one, lovely Great Tit, little bit under the arm. Brilliant.

:33:30.:33:34.

We would like more please. It's quite a challenge. The bar is very,

:33:34.:33:40.

very high. Please keep them coming in, if you wo. Have we had any

:33:40.:33:43.

questions from our viewers? We have. They started to come in almost

:33:43.:33:48.

immediately. We're running short of time. We'll do one quickly. This is

:33:48.:33:54.

from Julia on Twitter. "Where did barn owls live before we built

:33:54.:34:00.

barns?" Quickly, hollow trees. When a tree breaks over, I found a barn

:34:00.:34:03.

owl's nest in a willow tree that snapped off. It would have been

:34:03.:34:08.

natural calfities. A few of them would have nested in caves and

:34:08.:34:14.

cliff ledges as well. We have unsprung straight after this. We'll

:34:14.:34:19.

answer more then. Now back to Skomer.

:34:19.:34:23.

Welcome back, live to Skomer Island. Now earlier on, I mentioned the

:34:23.:34:28.

fact that it's because of the rich seas with plenty of fish that

:34:28.:34:31.

Skomer Island supports hundreds of thousands of sea birds. For

:34:31.:34:35.

evidence of that, you've only got to look over my shoulder. You've

:34:35.:34:40.

got rafts of hundreds of puffins, bobbing up and down on the water.

:34:40.:34:45.

They do this every evening here in the shelter of north haven. Some

:34:45.:34:51.

will be preening, making sure their feathers are in peak condition,

:34:51.:34:55.

vitally important for a bird who spends most of its life out to sea.

:34:55.:35:00.

They might head out to sea again or head into their burrows. The other

:35:00.:35:06.

day I was able to swim out into the middle of these birds for a close

:35:06.:35:16.
:35:16.:35:24.

Conditions are perfect this evening. The sun is shining and the puffins

:35:24.:35:30.

are out on the water in their hundreds. Mike, the cameraman and I,

:35:30.:35:34.

are going to see if we can snorkle up to them and have a closer look.

:35:34.:35:44.
:35:44.:35:52.

If you're patient and move slowly, you really can get right in amongst

:35:52.:36:00.

the birds. Outside the few months of the breeding season puffins

:36:00.:36:05.

spend all their life on the sea. They rest on the surface of the

:36:05.:36:14.

water like this, not on land. And they're expert divers. Look at that,

:36:14.:36:24.
:36:24.:36:34.

zipping past, they really do fly Sand eels are what they are diving

:36:34.:36:41.

for. They thrive in the sandy sea bed around Skomer. They're a very

:36:41.:36:45.

oily, nutritious fish and definitely the puffins' favourite

:36:45.:36:50.

food. Happiness is a beak full of sand

:36:50.:37:00.
:37:00.:37:01.

Isn't that amazing. Now puffins are only small birds. Everyone come

:37:01.:37:04.

together island expects to see a bigger bird. They're not much

:37:04.:37:09.

bigger than a blackbird. They dive five or ten metres, sometimes up to

:37:09.:37:13.

30. They're after sand eels. What is a sand eel? Well, that is a sand

:37:13.:37:19.

eel. Not an eel, but a snake-like fish. That body is to burrow into

:37:19.:37:25.

sand to escape from its predators. There are plenty of sandy bays out

:37:25.:37:31.

here so these eels are abundant. How does a puffin catch a sand eel

:37:31.:37:35.

and then catch even more? This is where I go into Chris Packham geek

:37:35.:37:40.

mode. This is a puffin. That is a puffin's bill. One of the key

:37:40.:37:45.

things is that bill doesn't open on a hinge like a blackbird or robins'

:37:45.:37:50.

bill. It has a special bone, the quad rant bone, which allows the

:37:50.:37:56.

mandibles to open parallel to each other. There are small hooks along

:37:56.:38:02.

the edges of that beak. There are barbs on the tongue and also

:38:02.:38:06.

backward-pointing hooks on the roof of the puffins' bill too. That

:38:06.:38:11.

allows it to dive and catch fish. That bill really is like a Swiss

:38:11.:38:16.

army knife. There's a tool in there for absolutely everything! Now, I'm

:38:17.:38:21.

going to need your help here, fast quiz - what do you think is the

:38:21.:38:26.

maximum number of sand eels ever seen and photographed in a puffins'

:38:26.:38:36.
:38:36.:38:37.

bill? 20, 25, 30? No, it's actually 61. An incredible 61! We spoil our

:38:37.:38:41.

wildlife cameramen here and Steve has spent the last couple of days

:38:41.:38:49.

taking shots of puffins. Have a look at this: Look at that

:38:50.:38:54.

lovely bird, it looks like it has sand eels and sprats in there.

:38:54.:38:57.

That's quite a catch. It's a big day when the first puffin is seen

:38:57.:39:01.

on the island with a beak full of fish, because that means the first

:39:01.:39:06.

chick has hatched. But even the few days we've been here, we've been

:39:06.:39:10.

seeing more and more adult puffins flying in with fish in their beaks,

:39:10.:39:14.

so by now, probably most of the puffin eggs on the island will have

:39:14.:39:24.
:39:24.:39:46.

Well done sto Steve, lovely stuff there. Later on, we're going to be

:39:47.:39:51.

looking at how sea birds are faring here on Skomer and in the UK, but

:39:51.:39:57.

now it's back to you. Thank you very much. Absolutely

:39:57.:40:01.

fantastic footage that. You know the thing he was saying about the

:40:01.:40:06.

beak, I'd often wondered why and I didn't know, that's the best thing

:40:06.:40:11.

about hanging around with other good naturalists, you constantly

:40:11.:40:15.

learn new things. I've been out geeked tonight! Someone else we've

:40:15.:40:20.

inspired to want to learn something about nature is an extremely

:40:20.:40:24.

unlikely candidate. It's Phil our cameraman. Wave to everybody. Go on

:40:24.:40:30.

put your hand in front. There he is. He has had his heart stolen by a

:40:30.:40:34.

bird not an unusual occurrence, but this particular bird is one, which

:40:34.:40:40.

one is it? Bobbers. Bobbers, dippers to you and me. One of the

:40:40.:40:45.

things that Phil wants to know about bobbers or dippers is why

:40:45.:40:51.

they bob or dip? Actually one of our viewers has written in.

:40:51.:40:56.

Fascinating stuff. Listen carefully, John chambers says "I have a theory

:40:56.:41:00.

concerning dipping activity. These birds live in what is effectively a

:41:00.:41:06.

white noise environment. The action of dipping may be a mechanism used

:41:06.:41:11.

phase displacement of the white noise, generated by the water, to

:41:11.:41:15.

identify prey or predator." He admits that the mathematics is

:41:15.:41:19.

hairy. But in effect, coherent sounds exhibit different

:41:19.:41:22.

characteristics to white noise, when the sensors, the ears, are

:41:22.:41:26.

moved. Stand by a water fall, he says, shake your head and the sound

:41:26.:41:30.

of the water will take on a different character. Coherent

:41:30.:41:35.

sounds tend to be not so masked by the white noise of the water. So

:41:35.:41:39.

what he's saying is that they're dipping so they can hear better.

:41:39.:41:45.

But John, other birds like owls bob their heads so that they can hear

:41:45.:41:48.

more accurately, where a sound is coming from. I'm thinking that

:41:48.:41:53.

bobbing your head doesn't take much energy, but bobbing your whole body

:41:53.:41:58.

up and down, as I'm finding out, requires a lot more energy. If it

:41:58.:42:02.

was just about sound, why not just the head? Things like sandpipers,

:42:02.:42:07.

they bob, and they don't live in such a noisy environment. No, and

:42:07.:42:10.

wagtails wag, and that's got nothing to do with their ears

:42:10.:42:15.

because it's their tail. I think it's a good theory. Thank you very

:42:15.:42:18.

much indeed. We love theories on this programme. We like them when

:42:18.:42:23.

they say things like "phase displacement and hairy mathematics".

:42:23.:42:28.

Keep those coming in. You are probably desperate to know how our

:42:28.:42:34.

dipper fledglings are doing. I know Phil is. Let's look at the footage

:42:35.:42:38.

that our wildlife cameraman has got over the last day or so. Here they

:42:39.:42:45.

are. There are three fledglings out of this nest. The adults very much

:42:45.:42:50.

in attendance with the beak full of caddisfly. You'll admit, they're

:42:51.:42:54.

absolutely thriving. They're doing extremely well. Lots of food down

:42:54.:42:58.

there. Again an adult coming in. Super picture as well. I have to

:42:58.:43:01.

say rather attractive young dipper there, look at that. Really lovely.

:43:01.:43:06.

This one is showing quite independent ten densies at this

:43:06.:43:12.

tender age. It tends to be more on its own. The adult knows exactly

:43:12.:43:16.

where it is and is looking after it. It is starting to feed a bit for

:43:16.:43:20.

itself. This is interesting. This is amazing. These animals are

:43:20.:43:24.

supremely adapted for an aquatic lifestyle, even as soon as they

:43:24.:43:29.

leave the nest. We've seen them, here's the adult doing what dippers

:43:29.:43:34.

do, turning over stones. This is a youngster, only a few days out of

:43:34.:43:38.

the nest already looking beneath the surface. Can you see sometimes

:43:38.:43:43.

a white flash going across their eye. This is the nictating membrane,

:43:43.:43:46.

it's a tough contact lens that stops sand in the water getting in

:43:46.:43:50.

their eyes. Swimming and bobbing about, fantastic. You know, I

:43:50.:43:53.

learned today when I was reading in my books that if dippers get

:43:53.:43:58.

disturbed when they're in the nest, only seven days old, they're not

:43:58.:44:03.

meant to fledge until 22 days old, they can pop out and already swim

:44:03.:44:08.

and dive beneath the surface at seven days old! That is incredible.

:44:08.:44:16.

As you saw, that river is very rich and full of food. We got some

:44:16.:44:19.

lovely underwater footage of what it is our dipper chicks are looking

:44:19.:44:27.

Well, there's so much food in the woods here, a lot gets washed into

:44:27.:44:31.

the water when it rains, lots of insects so so lots of food for fish.

:44:31.:44:34.

The fish eat them but it's a rich environment and on the surface of

:44:34.:44:39.

the stone there, Kate, is a caddisfly and they form up to 75%

:44:39.:44:43.

of the dippers' diet so they're very important and these streams

:44:43.:44:49.

are packed full of them. In fact, we have some right here. These are

:44:49.:44:52.

live caddisflies although they look like bits of stick and the reason

:44:52.:44:57.

for that is that they build these wonderful sort of cases around them.

:44:57.:45:03.

We have some film of them doing exactly that. It's amazing, cryst,

:45:03.:45:07.

that they pull -- Chris, that they pull together lots of things.

:45:07.:45:12.

use a web, not unlike a spider's web and they steupb it over their -

:45:12.:45:17.

- spin it over their back. This is serving two purposes, it's

:45:17.:45:22.

protecting the soft body of the caddisfly and it's fantastic

:45:22.:45:27.

camouflage and caddis is a name for a strip of cloth and people selling

:45:27.:45:32.

cloth in the middle ages used to wear it over their bodies and

:45:33.:45:37.

that's where the name comes from. Absolutely brilliant. I like that

:45:37.:45:43.

sort of information, it's a bit geeky, which brings us on to this,

:45:43.:45:47.

the Springwatch Geek Award, this is to celebrate the depth of knowledge

:45:47.:45:51.

some naturalists have. It's adorned by Mr Scratchy, the one and only

:45:51.:45:54.

and every year, so far, we have met a number of naturalists who we

:45:54.:45:59.

think are worthy of this award. Now, it's time to meet another who

:45:59.:46:05.

certainly is. In a country park in Wiltshire,

:46:05.:46:11.

there is a man who could have found the answer to a real wildlife

:46:12.:46:21.
:46:22.:46:24.

The emergency has been centred on the busy honeybe, a truly fantastic

:46:24.:46:30.

insect. Bees are vital to our way of life. They're one of the great

:46:30.:46:33.

pollenators of British plants, including many of our food crops.

:46:33.:46:38.

Yet, since 1992 in the UK the honey bee has been under attack from an

:46:39.:46:43.

alien invader which threatens the honey bee's very existence. The man

:46:43.:46:50.

that may have the answer to this problem is Ron Hustings. Ron has

:46:50.:46:55.

been researching a blight that's been having a terrible impab on

:46:55.:46:59.

British bees, and he has got to know them very well. Well, every

:46:59.:47:04.

good geek needs a shed or a lab and you have a lab here, Ron. Sort of.

:47:04.:47:12.

Very nice. What about the the Mythes then -- mites then?

:47:12.:47:17.

wanted to see the mites, there's a few for you.

:47:17.:47:21.

Oh my goodness me! How many are in here do you think?

:47:21.:47:29.

50,000. 50,000 mites in this small tub and you have put them in there

:47:29.:47:33.

there... They've all been under my microscope. It's difficult to see

:47:33.:47:37.

them, although I am in awe of 50,000 mites in a tub. There's the

:47:37.:47:41.

detail. That's what we are looking at. Wow, look at that. That's an

:47:41.:47:45.

alien, if ever you have seen it. This, presumably, is the point of

:47:45.:47:52.

menace. That's what sucks the blood of the baby bee. It's what we could

:47:52.:47:57.

call a proper infestation. Very much so. It's decimated the honey

:47:57.:48:03.

bee population. Ron's own bees were infected with this mite but his

:48:03.:48:09.

close examinations with to reveal incredible results.

:48:09.:48:13.

Underneath all my hives, Chris, we have a special tray that that

:48:13.:48:21.

collects the debris that falls. I also noticed that there are little

:48:21.:48:25.

vermites on there and I collected them and examined them and found a

:48:25.:48:31.

lot of them were damaged. Damaged? I am sure it was done by the bees

:48:31.:48:38.

grooming them off. They're mutually grooming these off. Monkey fashion.

:48:38.:48:42.

We found another breakthrough and I condition show you it because it's

:48:42.:48:46.

so minute but I have a picture here. Ron, I am fortunate to be shown

:48:46.:48:50.

lots of photographs of natural subjects. I don't normally have to

:48:50.:48:53.

ask which way up it goes. This is not a triumph when it comes to

:48:53.:49:01.

photography, but I am assuming it's fascinating. They are the antennae

:49:01.:49:07.

of larvae bees. They're being ripped off by the bee. They're

:49:07.:49:11.

removing it because it's infected? It's never going to be any good to

:49:11.:49:15.

the colony so they get rid of it now. What we have is a strain of

:49:15.:49:19.

bees, or a group of bees carrying genes which make them cleaner bees?

:49:19.:49:25.

Exactly. They're grooming off the mites and removing the infected

:49:25.:49:30.

larvae before they're useless to the colony? That's correct. Ron's

:49:30.:49:34.

next experiment was to move one of these cleaner Queens to an adjacent

:49:34.:49:40.

hive. This Queen bred cleaner drones and instances of the mite

:49:40.:49:45.

fell dramatically. So Ron had proved that this behaviour was

:49:45.:49:51.

genetic, rather than learned. Amazingly, Ron is now breeding

:49:51.:49:55.

cleaner Queen bees to try and alleviate the whole mite problem.

:49:55.:50:00.

Look at that. That works, doesn't it? What about these hooks either

:50:00.:50:06.

side here? Those are micro manipulators, they allow me to open

:50:06.:50:15.

the Queen gently, carefully, not to damage her, and open ready for

:50:15.:50:22.

inseplation of semen. I would inseminate the semen into that

:50:22.:50:28.

Queen. Eight. I normally give it the seven. Astonishing. Absolutely

:50:28.:50:33.

astonishing, Ron. Of course, what it guarantees is that you can get

:50:33.:50:36.

your grooming gene, which you have collected from the male in the

:50:36.:50:40.

semen, into this Queen? That's right. The theory is that we are

:50:40.:50:46.

going to put as many drones as we can until we have got, as it were,

:50:46.:50:55.

Swindon being a gene pool of hygienic bees. Swindon. Swindon

:50:55.:50:59.

saves the world of bees to the work of Ron. On that account, I am going

:51:00.:51:04.

to present you with an extraordinary prize. It's under the

:51:04.:51:11.

microscope, take a look through here. Seriously. Look at that.

:51:11.:51:19.

It's Mr Scratchy. That's the uber geek.

:51:19.:51:24.

What a fantastic bloke. I have to tell you, when I saw his 50,000

:51:24.:51:29.

mites in that tub, the geek award was his. And the impact that he

:51:29.:51:34.

could have for anyone that keeps bees. I am constantly bat battling,

:51:34.:51:40.

so good on you, please keep working. Drop Drop proof that geeks -- top

:51:40.:51:44.

proof that geeks can change the world. Some questions, one on

:51:44.:51:49.

Twitter: How many chicks can a heron have? That's easy, they can

:51:49.:51:53.

have about four or five is a usual clutch but they will often lose

:51:53.:51:56.

them, so two or three is the usual number to fledge. One last quick

:51:56.:52:02.

one, why do some fledgings have no tail? They wait to grow them until

:52:02.:52:09.

they get out of the nest. Let's head over to Iolo on Skomer.

:52:09.:52:14.

Welcome back. Now, I bet you are sitting at home comfy in your chair,

:52:15.:52:19.

wondering how that dashing chap on Skomer finds his way into your

:52:19.:52:25.

living room? Well, I tell you, Toby the cameraman is filming me, that

:52:25.:52:30.

goes by cable through all this here, it's fired across to a van on the

:52:30.:52:35.

mainland, beamed up to a satellite miles above us, beamed back down to

:52:35.:52:39.

us here and then to your living room. The wonders of modern

:52:39.:52:43.

technology. Now, over the past couple of days we have been

:52:43.:52:46.

following the puffins here on Skomer and they've been carrying

:52:46.:52:49.

fish back to the nest. So it would appear that the population is

:52:49.:52:53.

healthy, but is it? Well, the man to answer that is warden Chris

:52:53.:52:57.

Taylor. Hello, Chris. Puffins on Skomer, how many have you got and

:52:57.:53:01.

are they doing doing well? puffins on Skomer, they've been

:53:01.:53:05.

busy the last couple of years, so 1988 there was about 8,000 puffins

:53:05.:53:09.

on the island, now that population expanded to about 12,500, so it's a

:53:09.:53:14.

good sign they're doing fabulously. We have looked at a host of other

:53:14.:53:17.

birds here as well, how are they doing? I think the real stars of

:53:17.:53:27.

the show are the guillemots, the population is under 0,000. There --

:53:27.:53:30.

20,000. It shows there must be so much food to sustain that

:53:30.:53:38.

population. And manx Sheerwater. Are they doing all right? They seem

:53:38.:53:42.

to be. I am sure as you know, it's a tricky species to monitor and

:53:42.:53:48.

record. But we estimate about 120,000 breeding pairs, so lots

:53:48.:53:52.

that we monitor year on year. thank you very much. That really is

:53:52.:53:57.

wonderful news from Skomer. How about the rest of the UK? I posed

:53:57.:54:01.

that question to Professor Tim Guildford of Oxford University over

:54:01.:54:09.

there in the wardens' library. Fantastic old records here, Tim.

:54:09.:54:15.

It's interesting to look back over the decades, over 100 years almost,

:54:15.:54:18.

of records, particularly of sea birds. Now, from my time here I

:54:18.:54:23.

have learned that on Skomer our sea birds appear to be doing rather

:54:23.:54:28.

well. What's the picture for the rest of the UK? There is clearly a

:54:28.:54:31.

difference between what's happening, appears to be happening in

:54:31.:54:33.

Pembrokeshire and what's happening in the north of Britain. Do we know

:54:33.:54:38.

why? What is the difference to our birds here, go to different areas,

:54:38.:54:44.

more fish in the sea? Down here in Pembrokeshire the sand eel

:54:44.:54:54.
:54:54.:54:56.

productivity seems to have been good and puffins are enjoying that.

:54:56.:54:59.

Poor breeding success in the puffins, and this is almost

:54:59.:55:03.

certainly because the sand eels and other small fish they depend on are

:55:03.:55:06.

not as available so they're starting to try and eat other

:55:06.:55:10.

things which are not good for bringing up their chicks. It's a

:55:10.:55:13.

complex issue though, because I know here in Pembrokeshire the

:55:13.:55:18.

populations of some of the birds have built up on the back of

:55:18.:55:21.

collapse of the commercial fishing industry, for example. That must

:55:22.:55:25.

affect sea birds throughout the UK, if not throughout the world. That's

:55:25.:55:29.

right. I mean, it would be nice to believe that just because sea bird

:55:29.:55:33.

populations are growing or looking healthy, that this is a sign that

:55:33.:55:36.

the oceans are necessarily healthy, but it's not always like that.

:55:36.:55:40.

Because they may be freed from competition because there's been

:55:40.:55:43.

overfishing of their competitors, the big fish that eat the little

:55:43.:55:47.

fish that they depend on and as the fisheries recover, then the

:55:48.:55:50.

competitors are become and the sea birds start to suffer. So we need

:55:50.:55:53.

to be very careful in our interpretation of what's happening.

:55:53.:55:58.

How about the future then? If you were able to look ahead 20, 30, 40

:55:58.:56:03.

years, do you see a flourishing population of sea birds in the UK

:56:03.:56:08.

and here on Skomer? I really hope so. I think they're so important,

:56:08.:56:13.

but, I think we will see changes. Some of those will be positive,

:56:13.:56:16.

probably, but some will be negative. One thing that I think that we can

:56:16.:56:21.

be fairly sure of is that the climate is slowly changing, and

:56:21.:56:25.

that this will lead to changes in marine resources and this will

:56:25.:56:28.

inevitably lead to changes in sea bird populations. I don't think

:56:28.:56:31.

it's all doom and gloom but we certainly need to understand what's

:56:31.:56:41.

going to happen. It's a very difficult issue, but

:56:41.:56:44.

there ar couple of things we can all do. We need to be careful where

:56:44.:56:48.

we buy our fish from. Is it coming from a sustainable well managed

:56:48.:56:54.

source? Also, don't throw plastics into the sea, that affects not just

:56:54.:56:56.

fish but other wildlife too. If you want more information on this

:56:56.:57:00.

complex issue then please go to our website.

:57:00.:57:06.

Well, that's it from here, for now, I am going to hand you back. But I

:57:06.:57:11.

will still be here for UnSprung. See you then.

:57:11.:57:13.

Thank you very much. Now, if you were watching at the

:57:14.:57:18.

top of the programme we set you a challenge. We were struggling to

:57:18.:57:25.

identify this sound: It had upset our baby barn owls.

:57:25.:57:28.

Has anyone come up with any suggestions? Very exciting, they're

:57:28.:57:33.

coming in all the time. Someone thinks it's a magpie. Another

:57:33.:57:40.

thought it was a deathwatch beetle. John, my wife trying to start her

:57:40.:57:44.

Mini! We asked our expert sound recordist here, he thinks that it's

:57:44.:57:49.

actually being made by those young owls, so we have set them a

:57:49.:57:54.

challenge. We put a microphone and camera all around the barn owl nest

:57:54.:57:59.

and hopefully overnight we might find out what is going on. But you

:57:59.:58:06.

can keep watching on our webcams by going to our website.

:58:06.:58:14.

Tomorrow, Christopher? We asked you a question, is it Steve McQueen and

:58:14.:58:24.
:58:24.:58:24.

Reporting live from mid Wales, Chris Packham, Kate Humble, and Martin Hughes-Games catch up on all the animal dramas and report on other wildlife stories from around the British Isles. On Skomer Island off the Pembrokeshire coast, Iolo Williams takes to the water to reveal puffins at their best - diving for fish.


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