Countryfile is in the historic kingdom of Fife. Matt Baker explores Tentsmuir forest - a haven for wildlife where the artist in residence has set up a virtual trail.
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The historic Kingdom of Fife, on the east coast of Scotland.
A contrasting county of lush, fertile countryside,
and more golf courses than you can wave a club at.
I'm exploring a part of the kingdom that is growing by the day.
Now, Tentsmuir Forest is teeming with wildlife,
but you know what filming can be like -
even the bravest of creatures can become camera-shy. However, today,
I'm guaranteed to see something, with the help of my phone.
Home to Scotland's capital for six centuries, the Kingdom of Fife
has always been at the centre of the nation's history.
This is Falkland Palace, right in the heart of Fife.
It's where the Royals came to play. Here, they would go hunting,
hawking, and take part in other 16th-century activities.
Today, though, I'm going to be playing
a game of tennis on Britain's oldest surviving tennis court,
and my opponent is Mary, Queen of Scots.
-Your serve, Your Majesty.
Tom's across the Irish Sea investigating one of the most
controversial issues in the countryside.
The culling of badgers
in an effort to stop
the spread of TB in cattle
may be just about to start in England,
but here in Ireland, they've been doing it for years.
So, what can we learn from the Irish? I'll be finding out.
And Adam is looking at a rather special working dog.
I'm in Devon and this is Jess, a springer spaniel,
a working dog with a difference.
She does all sorts of jobs on the farm - carries buckets, tools.
She'll even bottle-feed a pet lamb.
Come on, then.
The historic Kingdom of Fife,
ancestral home of Scottish monarchs
and a land famed for its fairways.
The coastline is a dot-to-dot of fishing harbours
and mining villages.
Inland, a lacework of lochs, forests and fells.
The natural peninsula lies an hour north of Edinburgh,
bounded by the River Tay and the Firth of Forth.
I'm exploring the north-eastern corner, known as Tentsmuir.
This is one of the most dynamic landscapes in the country,
and I'm not talking about what is going on around me.
It's what's going on under my feet.
For the last 5,000 years,
this coastline has been expanding outwards,
as much as five metres a year in some places.
All that extra land has made this a highly desirable location
to set up home...for wildlife.
With a range of habitats,
it's a des-res for some of our most elusive creatures.
To be in with a chance of seeing the wild locals, you need time,
you need patience and to be a little bit inconspicuous,
so, with our schedule and this lot in tow, it's never going to be easy.
Come on, then, you lot!
Luckily, here at Tentsmuir,
they have come up with a hi-tech solution for wildlife spotting.
All you need is your walking boots and one of these.
Or one of these.
Apparently, it's dead simple.
All I have to do is take a scan of this QR code...
-There we are.
And I can access a whole virtual reality of all of the wildlife
that lives right here.
The web page that opens up offers me
a sneak peek at some of the wild residents of Tentsmuir,
as well as sketches and paintings created at that very spot.
The main man behind the project is Derek Robertson,
wildlife artist, local lad and all-round nature lover.
-How are you doing? All right?
What a beautiful part of the forest to be sketching.
It's amazing, isn't it? It's beautiful.
Derek will be artist-in-residence here for the next 12 months
to celebrate the Year of Natural Scotland.
So, where did the idea of this artist trail come from?
-Was this something you came up with?
I was doing a whole load of drawings and paintings
and I was looking for a way of exhibiting them on-site,
and also, I've been taking video footage of the animals around us.
To be honest, Derek, I try and leave my phone at home
when I come to places like this,
and the last thing I want to be doing is looking down at a screen.
I agree. If it was either-or, then I would agree with you, but it's
the choice of the person coming along and it can give a much richer context
and seeing footage of wild animals that otherwise, they wouldn't see.
These are things which often come out at night
-or are difficult to get close to.
-What have you been busy with?
-You've got a beautiful red squirrel here.
-Yes, red squirrels.
We've been watching some earlier on today.
They been coming down to the feeder.
You've captured their characteristics so brilliantly.
-Can we have a little flick through your pad?
This is what I've been doing the last couple of days,
so this is my watercolour sketchbook.
So, this is woodcock in the forest nearby,
and then a couple of days ago I was down on the shore
drawing the seals, but it started to rain so I had to dive for cover.
So this never got anywhere near finished,
so I'll have to go back in a couple of days' time.
Derek spends much of his time outdoors,
but his work isn't all about the canvas.
As an enthusiastic naturalist,
he has also pioneered an unusual way of counting birds.
In the past, I've been looking at different ways of researching
the animals here on-site so, for example,
we've done studies of water rails,
which are really difficult to count because they hide in the reeds,
and we used "call playback", where they're played a tape
-and then the birds call back.
-Answer back, basically?
-so we know how many are there.
-Did it work?
-It worked great.
We thought we had two or three on the site,
and we found out we had 110 at this reserve nearby.
So, that model's being used as the standard research tool now
for surveying water rails.
While I leave Derek to his squirrel sketching,
I'm going to try out this bird counting technique for myself.
Right, let's give this a go. I'm quite excited about this.
So, water rail... Play.
CHIRPING FROM MACHINE
PIERCING CALLS IN REPLY
How about that? Listen to that.
I'm having a conversation with a water rail. That is incredible.
Well, while I continue communicating,
let's turn our attention to this week's investigation.
And plans to trial badger culling may well be dividing
much of the nation, but as Tom has been finding out, England is
not the first place to try and tackle bovine TB in this way.
Ireland, a rich and fertile land.
From traditional Irish homesteads to modern working farms,
agriculture is at heart of this economy,
and most of that is livestock farming.
But just like their British counterparts,
Irish beef and dairy farmers
are struggling with the problem of bovine TB,
a chronic and highly infectious disease that,
if left unchecked, can weaken and ultimately kill infected livestock.
As in the UK, badgers are getting much of the blame for spreading
the disease amongst cattle, but until now, England and Ireland
have had two very different strategies for dealing with it,
the main difference being that, in Ireland, they've had
a systematic badger culling programme in its current form since 2004.
But is it working?
On his farm in County Cork, Mark Chambers
is bringing in his herd for their annual TB test.
It's still a nerve-wracking process.
Just one positive result could lock down his whole farm.
So, what is happening today, Mark?
Reading of our TB test.
They were done on Tuesday, and today is the day we get our results.
So results day. Is that always a bit nerve-wracking for you?
Yes, I suppose. You just never know what can happen.
-When did you last have a case here?
-Seven years ago.
How did it affect your business during that time?
Well, then, you cannot sell any stock, so therefore...
It depends on the time of year.
If you're coming into winter time when it happened,
and I usually sell my cows in October,
I wouldn't be able to sell them.
I'd have to carry more stock, which would increase
the feed that is wanted, so it would be a disaster.
The next few hours are crucial for Mark.
Local vet Michael Sexton is tasked with carrying out the test today.
OK. See the lump?
That is 15.
He gave each cow in Mark's herd a skin test 72 hours ago.
Now he is back looking for lumps on the cows' necks
to diagnose whether they have TB.
It's nine on top, seven on the bottom.
A reactor would be very bad news for the herd, and the cow
will have to be slaughtered and Mark's farm will be locked down.
-No reaction on either side.
-Well, so far, so good.
The first batch is clear.
In the past, this area had a high incidence of TB,
but Michael believes there has been a dramatic decrease
since the TB eradication policy was introduced.
In southern Ireland, the incidence from 2000 to 2011 has...
There has been a drop of 50%.
And how important is badger culling in the story of that decline?
I wouldn't say badger culling specifically,
but I think wildlife control is definitely a big part of that.
TB is a problem for cattle and for wildlife,
and I don't it's possible to control it in one
-without controlling it in the other.
-It seems to me
you've got little doubt that is not
a question of it being the fault of the cattle or the badgers.
You've got to get on top of both of them.
The disease afflicts both species
and for the disease control of cattle and for badgers,
and the welfare of cattle and for badgers, they go hand in hand.
You can't separate them.
The decision to cull badgers was no easy step, but here it was felt
to be the most effective solution to an escalating problem.
Tomas Bourke is the livestock officer at the IFA,
the Irish equivalent of the National Farmers' Union.
It's a horrendous sight for farmers
and their families, to see these animals, perfectly good,
at the peak of production, being loaded onto a truck for slaughter.
While we have made significant progress over the past 10, 12 years,
-it's vital that this disease is eradicated.
do you think your experience in Ireland shows that culling works?
Yes, based on our figures.
Our figures are published annually
and show reduction of over 50%, but obviously we need to go further.
Why do you think there is such a difference in attitude
to a cull here, and England?
I suppose, from an Irish perspective, there is
probably a closer association with the land,
and most people are only one generation removed from it.
There's also a better understanding, I suppose,
of the value of agriculture to the economy.
Because the number of tests has varied over the years,
not everyone agrees that a 50% reduction in bovine TB
is an accurate figure for Ireland, but between 1995 and 2010,
the proportion of infected herds has fallen from just over 9.5%
to just under 7.5%.
In England, in the same period, the proportion of infected herds
rose substantially, from less than 1% to 9%.
Back on Mark's farm, the tests are now complete.
Good news. Clear round. That's it for another year.
-That's all of them done, is it?
-That's the whole herd. Perfect.
-It feels good?
-It feels good. Yes. A bit nervous, but we got there.
Very good to have that feeling.
-OK. Let them out.
-Are you ready, Robert?
Well, good news for Mark,
and that's a happy ending we're hearing more and more often
across Ireland, but to what extent is that down to the culling of badgers?
Or are other factors involved, like bio-security amongst the cattle?
That's what I'll be finding out later.
Fife, a historic Scottish county, romantically known as a kingdom.
Right at its heart is the Royal Burgh of Falkland.
Surrounded by the handsome wilderness of the hills
and flatlands of Fife, Falkland was thrust into the limelight
in the 16th century.
This place, Falkland Palace,
was built as a playground for the Kings and Queens of Scotland.
For around 200 years, the palace was visited by the House of Stuart,
and this is the family hall of fame.
Be warned, there are a lot of Jameses.
That is James V.
He ruled Scotland between 1513 and 1542,
and it was his father, James IV, who started building this palace,
before James V took it on and finished it off.
When James V died in his chamber here at the palace, his daughter,
who was only six days old, became Mary, Queen of Scots.
Mary was followed by her son, James VI of Scotland,
who went on to become James I of England.
I told you there were a lot of Jameses.
This is where the Stuarts came to relax and unwind
in the comfortable surroundings of a Renaissance palace,
a French-style chateau in the Fife countryside.
But what drew them to Falkland?
I'm about to get a bird's-eye view with palace manager Wendy Purvis.
-Wendy, this is a stunning view.
-Yes. So, all that you can see out there
would have been the hunting park within the forest
that Mary would have appreciated. She could have even stood up here
and watched the hunt as it progressed out in the grounds there.
Hundreds of acres of forest playground.
In this park, the Stuarts used to hawk, hunting with birds of prey.
Today, falconer Stewart Miller is keeping the sport of hawking alive.
In the palace grounds, Stewart, Squeak the young Harris hawk
and Angus the pony are in training.
I'm joining the team to provide a moving target,
though I might come to regret that.
Hawks hunt by sight, and so that our bait moves like a real animal,
I'm going to drag it on a piece of string.
For this training exercise, I'm literally the bait.
For this to be successful, the hawk needs to land on the bait.
He's up in the tree, look. The tree is not the bait.
I'm going to offer him some food, and here he comes.
I need to get the horse to stand still. Good boy.
-That was brilliant.
Don't worry about it, Squeak, we'll give it another go.
-His coming, he's coming!
-Stop, stop, stop.
That's more like it.
-That is so exciting.
He has literally spread his wings to say, "This is mine. Hands off."
This is called mantling.
It's like birds of prey do in the wild - they mantle over their prey -
-and what I'm going to try and do here is offer him a swap.
-A bit of a trade.
-This is a tricky part.
Oh, wow. Oh, brilliant.
Luckily, he is quite happy to step up.
You can see he is still mantling, because he doesn't want us
to steal what I'm offering him now.
Stewart, you must be delighted with that
because he's done exactly what you wanted him to do.
Yeah, it's the beginning of his training and, really,
he'll just come on in leaps and bounds.
Now he knows what the rabbit is, he'll know to chase it,
-and when he does chase it he gets a reward.
Time for me to try my hand as the huntress.
That's good, that's right position.
Just bring your elbow in a little bit, that's it. Good to go.
-How does it feel?
I've never held a hawk before so I'm fascinated by Squeak.
No offence, Angus! Sitting here feels quite...
I do, I feel very regal,
but I can't imagine galloping through the forest.
There you go.
Even with hawking and hunting,
life for the Royals in the 16th century could get dull.
They were always looking for entertainment.
Luckily, a new sport had recently come to Britain from France,
and had found a place in the grounds of the palace.
This is a real tennis court, also known as royal tennis.
It's the oldest surviving course of its kind in the country
and here today,
I'm going to be taking on a rather nerve-wracking opponent.
It's not Andy Murray, but I am going to be playing another Scot,
one who is a little older
and who is about to make an incredible comeback on this court...
You serve, Your Majesty.
..Mary, Queen of Scots.
Royal tennis is the precursor to modern lawn tennis,
an intricate game where the ball is bounced off the court walls
as well as the floor.
It's a sort of cross between a tennis ball and a squash ball,
so the bounce is incredibly unpredictable.
Our Mary, Queen of Scots is also the palace's education officer,
Good game, Your Majesty.
-Thank you for coming to play with me.
-Tell me a bit about this court.
Is this the court that Mary, Queen of Scots would have played in?
It was built by her father in 1539, so she would have played here
quite a lot, because she was fond of playing tennis.
It was unusual for anybody to be playing tennis at this time,
especially women playing, so Mary was quite a rebel,
especially in breeches,
because women weren't meant to show their legs,
so the Court found it quite controversial
for her to play in trousers.
-Shall we call it a day, Your Majesty?
Thank you for coming to play with me today.
-So, what would you do now, Queen?
-I think I will go and rest.
And eat lots of food.
Ah, a queen after my own heart.
The perfect end to a Royal day out.
Apparently, she liked hot buttered crumpets after a game.
I quite fancy one of those...
Whilst we're exploring the historic Kingdom of Fife,
a few months ago, Ellie was in Northumberland.
She was visiting a project to see what's being done to protect
river banks from the type of heavy rain that swept across the country
last year. It left a trail of destruction in its wake,
but can the reintroduction of a traditional building method
really be the answer?
When this river flooded, its banks eroded
and changed the course of the river,
filling it with tonnes
of this stuff - silt -
and it's this silt which is causing considerable problems
for the landowners who farm around here
and for the wildlife that inhabit these waters.
I've come to the River Lyne in Northumberland
to meet water quality expert Fiona Morris.
We're taking a sample to see what's living here.
So, why is the silting up of the river such a problem?
Right, the silt has quite a few issues, really, for the river
and its wildlife. It prevents fish from being able to spawn
in the gravelly rivers,
it prevents plants from being able to grow
because of the lack of light.
Not only does the silt cause problems for wildlife,
but it also increases the likelihood of flooding.
Surveys like this are the ultimate test for the health of the river,
so it'll be interesting to see what we find.
Even though this was from the edge of the river, there's plenty of life.
There is. There's lots of things in there. What we've got here
is some shrimps, some mayflies, a few worms
and some stoneflies,
and the caddis fly, as you can see here, that build these little cases.
Would these species that we've got, are they more tolerant
-of less-healthy rivers?
-They are more tolerant of silty rivers.
The things that tend to go are the things with gills,
and we don't have any of those things in here.
Whilst there's lots of things in the tray,
there's not a lot of species in here.
Silting up of our rivers is a national problem.
It's caused by heavy rain
and by cattle wandering into rivers, eroding the banks.
But there is a potential solution.
For centuries, a technique called willow spiling has been used
to reinforce river banks.
One of its advantages is that it doesn't use hard engineering
with materials like concrete,
but it does require a fair old amount of this stuff - willow.
Barry, why choose willow?
Well, as you may know, willow has got lots of uses.
It's used in craft industries. We use it for hedge laying.
As you know, it's a very sappy, flexible material
-and it takes readily in river banks.
-So how do you choose your stems?
Well, you want a good sturdy stem for the stakes
-to drive into the river bank.
-Like this one?
-Yes, just like these.
That will stabilise, stand upright. And then you want the lighter material for weaving between it.
-So, what do I need to cut this down?
-You just want a nice sharp pruning saw for that.
-So, right down here near the base?
-Yes, down near the base is best.
Is this a good time of year for this?
Yes, winter is the best time. You are coppicing, really. The sap isn't up.
The bark is quite tight to the trunk
and you're not ripping it and the shoots will come away in the spring.
Right, and over to this, then, for the diddy bits.
Yes, this is the stuff that you put in between the stakes. Weave in.
Again, you can plant them into the river bank
-and they'll take as well.
-It's amazing, isn't it?
'With as much willow as I can carry, I head back to the river.
'Duncan Hutt and some volunteers are already busy moving
'willow across the water.'
-I have brought you much-needed supplies,
or so I thought, but they are a bit meagre compared to this lot.
-Well, it all helps.
-I suppose it does. Right, let me give you a hand.
Excellent. See if you can get down and we'll pass them across. That'll be great.
How many metres are you hoping to cover with this lot of willow?
Oh, it is probably going to be five or six, I think, with this lot.
I see you have already done some of the spiling here.
-How effective has it been?
-It's held firm. It's done a really good job.
'Once we have got the willow where we need it, it's time to get spiling.'
So the post's in, Duncan. How to get from this to this?
Well, we have got to get all these posts in.
Once they're in, we can start weaving the willow between them.
The willow will tighten it all together and keep it as a nice big
solid sort of fence, if you like, along the river bank.
-It's quite labour-intensive, isn't it?
-It's quite labour-intensive.
We do often try and use a machine to help with this,
but unfortunately, where we are at the moment,
-we can't get a machine anywhere near it.
It's all being done by hand on this particular site.
-How's that one?
-'Two of the tiers have been planted.
'Today we're adding the third and final tier of willow.
'It'll give the bank extra support next time the river floods.'
-So, weaving time.
-Go on, then.
-We'll get a nice, straight piece like this.
-Somewhere around there.
Shove it in there. Deep enough to root eventually.
It's not quite basket-weaving, is it?
-It's a little bit thicker than that.
Why would you use willow rather than a material like concrete?
I think there's a number of reasons.
It's a living, live, natural product.
It does a lot of the job itself, so the roots bind the bank together
rather than actually reliant on the structure of the material itself.
It's great for wildlife. You get invertebrates, water voles.
It looks nicer and it will start to grow and look just like a natural river bank.
So, you know, there's a whole host of things like that
but, of course, the main reason that we're doing it is to support
this bank and stop this silt just getting into the river.
-Why not just leave the river to do its thing?
-We'll never stop the river.
The river is more powerful than anything we can do on this sort of thing.
But I think we're just picking points where there's
a particular problem and we're trying to just sort of give them
a little bit of a helping hand, if you like, to that process.
'It's not long before we're weaving the last stalks of willow.'
So how do you think this might look in, let's say, a year from now?
Hopefully, all these uprights are going to grow
and sprout out and some of the weaving bits will as well.
It'll green up and it will look quite bushy and natural in the landscape.
'With careful management, the willow will take root, forming
'an important part of the river banks and the Northumberland landscape -
'with any luck, for the next 30 years.'
With this stretch of river bank protected by the willow, it should
secure the land above for the farmer and hopefully, when Duncan comes back
a year from now, he'll find a lot less silt and a lot more wildlife.
Here in Fife, I've already seen some of the wonderful wildlife
that calls this place home.
But there's one creature that is surprisingly hard to see,
despite its massive size.
The white-tailed sea eagle.
It's the job of Rhian Evans to track these elusive birds.
As RSPB officer for East Scotland,
she's allowed Countryfile to follow her for the day.
So we've just picked up a signal for one of the birds,
which is really exciting and it means there's a bird really close by here.
This is a really typical day for me in the field.
I spend a lot of my time in different areas,
trying to find out where various birds are spending their time.
There's a couple of birds here at the moment.
Tentsmuir's a really good spot for them. It's a great big wood.
Great nesting habitat for them, should they do that in the future.
We have got the Tay estuary to the north and the Eden estuary
to the south, so you have got the fish
close to the surface in the shallow waters that they feed on.
Also rabbits and carrion, as well.
They are quite lazy birds so carrion is always a good option for them.
It's really important for me to figure out where the birds are
and what they're doing, especially now that they might start breeding soon.
It's important to know what they are feeding on,
where they're roosting and eventually it will help us
monitor their nests, wherever that might be.
Sea eagles were first reintroduced to western Scotland in the 1970s.
But since 2007,
around 100 young birds have been released on the East Coast too.
Flying in from Norway,
the aim is to establish breeding pairs here in Britain.
As a globally threatened species, it's hoped the project
will expand their range and ensure their survival.
It's great to see them in the wild,
back in the habitat that they used to occupy so many years ago.
So although we have got a signal for the birds coming from the woods just now, ideally I want
a signal from about three or four different locations
for me to be able to triangulate so that
I can figure out on a map then where exactly in the woods these birds are.
Sea eagles are the largest bird of prey in Britain and Europe.
They have got an eight-foot wingspan
and they have been described as flying barn doors.
Being such large predators,
there is some conflict with the sea eagle reintroduction.
Part of my job is to liaise with landowners and to work with them
to make sure that the birds fit back in successfully
into the landscape and live alongside people and not become a problem.
The birds themselves are such great characters.
There is something mystical about them.
It still gives you goosebumps when you see them,
no matter how many times you see them.
Now, earlier, Tom was in Ireland, finding out whether nearly a decade
of systematic badger culling has reduced the spread of bovine TB.
But with trial culls in England planned for this summer,
are there any clear lessons we can learn from the Irish experience?
TB is a serious problem in our livestock.
But while the incidence of the disease has dramatically
increased in England, in Ireland, there has been a significant fall.
On the surface, it looks like badger culling is working here.
But while the statistics look good,
there are still plenty of people who disagree.
Conn Flynn works for the Irish Wildlife Trust.
He believes firmly that culling badgers is not the answer.
Tom, this is baby badger Roisin and the fox is Twiglet.
-Keen to escape.
-She is keen to escape. Out you come.
'One of Conn's chief concerns is the Irish method of culling badgers using snares.'
You grab hold of Roisin there and I shall show you.
OK. Leave me holding the baby.
So this is the device that is used in the Irish culling programme.
So it's a snare.
In Euro-speak, it is a body-stopped restraint,
so obviously the badgers are lumbering into these things.
These are set around the badger setts
and then they get caught in them
so it can be a matter of time where they're actually trapped in it
and then they're dispatched with a rifle bullet.
So that isn't supposed to tighten round the neck
and actually throttle them. It is supposed to just stop them, is it?
It's supposed to hold them in place until somebody can come along and shoot them.
'Snare won't be used in England, where culling will be carried out
'by free-shooting or by caging and then shooting.
'But, like many people who oppose the English call,
'Conn doesn't believe that badgers are the root of the problem.'
I'm wearing a "not guilty" T-shirt here today,
because we feel that they are not the main problem.
They are a part of the problem. I wouldn't argue with the fact that there is an issue there.
It is just that they are being held up as the big factor here and they are a very small factor.
'If, as Conn believes, badgers are a minor factor in spreading TB,
'how come infection rates have dropped since the cull was brought in?'
Well, according to the Irish government, a major factor
in tackling the disease is their rigorous TB testing regime.
While in the UK, we only test low-risk herds every four years,
here in Ireland, all cows are tested annually.
There is also a sophisticated system for tracking the movement of animals,
and farmers are being encouraged to all they can to make their farms TB-proof.
The vet Michael Sexton believes that increased biosecurity has made a significance difference.
What can farmers do to make it less likely that their herd will catch TB?
I think, employing good biosecurity, by containment policies.
Good perimeter fencing at the farm level, whereby
they can prevent their herd coming into contact with
animals from other herds and other wildlife.
And if farmers do all those things, what difference can it make?
It has to help.
A few years ago, biosecurity was not part of the lexicon.
Biosecurity is the buzzword now.
Every farmer is very much aware of it.
'Improvements in biosecurity have helped,
'but exactly how much is impossible to calculate,
'especially when you have a cull going on at the same time.'
Despite this success, in Ireland,
they are now looking to develop a new strategy to combat the disease - vaccination.
Already used in a piecemeal way in England
and the main line of defence in Wales, it has now become
the focus for the next step in Ireland's fight against TB.
The Irish government is making huge investments in a TB vaccination programme for badgers.
And now, to speed things up, they are trying something new.
Rather than injecting badgers,
scientists are now trying to see if they will eat the vaccine instead.
Doctor Nicola Marples is head of the Department of Zoology at Trinity College.
She's trialling these new methods and has permission to dig near the sett.
What we have got here is the depth that the badgers will be able
to smell the bait, and go down to.
They are really a digging creature, so they are very happy to do that.
They will smell the bait and dig right down to it.
A dog passing by might smell the bait because it has got
a very good sense of smell, but it wouldn't dig that deep.
OK. So what we're going to do is put the baits in now.
The baits look really weird. These are flapjacks for badgers.
They are basically made of flapjack.
-They are made of golden syrup and oats.
-But do oral vaccines for badgers work?
There is very good evidence now that if you can get the badger
to eat the vaccine, it will actually protect them against TB.
So you have little doubt that vaccination could shortly be
a useful part of a TB control strategy?
Absolutely. I have very little doubt about that.
'Scientists who have high hopes for the vaccination programme
'and the authorities are optimistic that
'if it is used together with culling and improved biosecurity,
'it can only help reduce levels of the disease even further.'
So, is this the way forward in England too?
There are clearly differences between England
and Ireland in terms of wildlife, farming and public opinion,
but their very active TB eradication policy does seem to be working here.
And many farmers in England will be looking to our government,
hoping that they take a lead from across the Irish Sea.
Working dogs are often an essential part of life on a farm.
But not all have the same skills, and some, well,
they just do the unexpected, which Adam is about to discover.
But first, his own dogs are needed out in the field.
Choosing the right dog to do the right job is essential.
We've got a big team of staff
and the dogs are an important part of the team.
Without them, I'd certainly be doing a lot of running around.
Boo, Boo! Dolly! Come on then, old Maude.
All the different dogs have got different personalities
and different uses and really, as the dog owner, you can
utilise them depending on their characters and their strength, really.
These are my two pets. They are the house dogs, the vizslas.
And then I've got my working collies. There is old Maude, here.
She is 15, a bit daft and a bit useless now, so she's retired.
Her daughter, Pearl. Pearl, here. She's quite useful.
She's a seven-year-old dog.
I use her rounding up the sheep in the paddock.
Right, Pearl, here, here. Stay. Stay there.
'Time to put Pearl's skills into action.'
That just is encouraging her to walk on a bit, move a bit quicker.
That's quite a way now. She is running out round the back of those sheep,
saving me the a lot of walking. It's amazing, that herding instinct.
She wants to do that to please me.
She sort of sees me as part of the pack and she's working with me
to bring the flock towards me now.
What she's done, she has left two behind,
so I will stop her and then I'll give her a look back,
command, and she should look behind her to go and get them.
Look back! Look back!
That's it. She has gone to get them now.
Good girl. Bring them on. Bring them on.
She is doing a good job, really.
Right, all I've got to do now is get them in the pens.
'I need to get these ewes loaded into the trailer, as they are ready for new pastures.
'Now that I have got the sheep penned, it is time to let Millie have a go.'
Millie is a part-bred Australian kelpie and in Australia,
where they have huge flocks of sheep,
the sheep at the front of the flock don't know there's
a dog in the field so they teach them to bark and they speak on command.
And also, they will run along the backs of the sheep, barking,
and the sheep will run to the front. Very clever little dogs.
So she is really useful in the pens,
when I'm trying to load sheep like this.
Here, Millie, Millie. Good dog.
Good dog. Here, Millie. Good dog.
Speak up. Speak, Millie. Speak up.
Right. That's full.
'Now that they're loaded, one of my livestock team will finish
'the job and take them to their new fields for the summer.'
Not all dogs have the same skills
and some shepherds manage their flock in a completely different way.
Louise Moorhouse and Leo Henley Lock are a farming duo on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon
and their dog, Jess, also helps out during the lambing season.
-Good to meet you.
-Lovely to see you. A sweet little spaniel.
My dogs would be frightening the sheep.
They would be running everywhere but they don't seem to be bothered at all.
No, I mean, I think she has grown up with them
and they have grown up with her.
They basically know each other and they know that she isn't
a threat so I think that is probably the difference.
She's incredibly good. Look at the way she's behaving with that lamb.
I think she actually quite likes the attention as well, to be honest.
-It's nibbling her ear, that lamb.
-I know. I can't believe it. I know.
-What has she got in her mouth?
-Well, she's got a spray can, which...
We have got a lame ewe in here and basically, she will carry it,
you'll catch the ewe and she'll drop it when you need it.
-So where's the lame one?
-As you can see, just over there.
I am going to catch her.
-I've got it.
-Right, where is that purple spray?
-Jess, bring the can.
Here we are. Very useful.
So that will help clear up that little infection, won't it?
Yes, I think it's because there was dung being spread on here and it's a little bit acidic.
It'll clear it up and then she'll be fine.
It's a beautiful setting, isn't it? How long have you been here?
Well, I think, to the day, we've been here a month, and that's it,
so yeah, the stock moved in before we did and we're still unpacking.
And it's a county council farm?
That's right, it's a Devon County Council farm,
so you apply, you come and view it.
There were probably about 200 people on the viewing day,
and then about 56 applicants in total,
-and we were lucky enough to get a chance at it.
-Well done, you.
We secured a seven-year tenancy.
-And you work at Bicton agricultural college as well?
-Yes, part time.
I've been teaching there.
It's nice to be able to try to tell people
that there is this opportunity for young people.
If you aren't lucky enough to actually come into farming,
this opportunity is here for people.
Jess is carrying a bucket around. Is she always helping?
Always trying to do something, absolutely, all the time.
We've got a few orphan lambs and she'll help feed those as well.
She's a bit like a Swiss Army knife, I suppose.
There's one last thing I must see before I go.
So, how did you discover that Jess could feed the pet lambs?
Well, just one day, leave the bottle on the floor
and she had picked up the bottle and was feeding the lamb.
So, we'll give the bottle to Jess... There you go.
..and ask her to sit, because some of the lambs are a bit smaller,
-and away she goes, really.
-The lamb just plugs on and away you go!
It was a bit of a surprise when we came round the corner
and found her feeding a lamb one day.
The lamb doesn't seem to mind at all, does it?
No, and I think that is why our sheep are so tame compared to...
with not a sheepdog. She's not a threat to them.
She's part of the family, really.
Well, it's been great to meet you and Leo.
-Thank you so much for showing me round.
-No problem at all.
And good luck. I can see you're just going to make a great success of it.
We're going to give it all that we can, really.
Maybe you can come back in a few years and see what it's like.
Lovely to meet you. All the best. Bye-bye.
Next week, there is a surprise on the farm with an unexpected arrival,
and Crackers, my Belted Galloway bull, is to blame.
This week, we're in Fife,
and I'm spending a day on its beautiful coastline.
I'm here to take part in a boating revival
that's been sweeping these rugged shores.
The story begins here,
at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther.
This beautifully crafted boat
is a model of a skiff.
Elegantly designed, these simple boats were originally
used for transport and fishing in northern Scotland.
That's until a boat-building workshop in the museum
produced a life-size replica.
And this amazing craft was the end result.
With a couple of design tweaks,
it was christened the St Ayles Skiff,
and it was about to spark off a global rowing phenomenon.
The prototype was built by Alec Jordan.
Originally from St Lucia, his boatbuilding business in Fife
is now experiencing an explosion in demand.
It's great to hear that the skiff business is booming.
Did you ever expect that?
With over 100 skiffs sold, it is
absolutely beyond my wildest expectations.
It's been picked up as a community thing.
I think that's been the biggest success.
These boats are built by the people who are going to row them,
or their families. They're built in the communities.
The heart of the revival has been on the shores of Fife.
But the craze of building and rowing skiffs has
since swept the waters of the world.
So, show me your global empire, then. Where does it start?
The first women's build, that was Portland in Oregon.
We've got the second women's build, which was in Tasmania.
And then there's Canada, who has gone skiff mad.
So, where is next on the global hit list?
We've had very strong interest from Brazil, and also,
we had an e-mail conversation with a guy in Barbados a couple of days ago.
So, all around the world, skiffs are being raced.
Here in Fife, there is an old tradition of coastal races,
though it may not be the story you're expecting.
Back in the early 1900s, coal miners from local pits here built
small boats using scrap wood from the mines.
To escape their claustrophobic working conditions,
they would take to the sea and race.
One of the highlights of the year was the Easy Wemyss Regatta,
last held in the 1950s,
as villager Eddie MacRae recalls.
Eddie, tell me about your family connection to the racing.
Oh, James, it goes back a long way.
My father had a boat, the True Vine.
He wasn't very good at winning races.
He often won the race to the pub after the regatta was over.
-He was very good at that!
-How many boats are we talking about?
-There's not a single one today, it's difficult to imagine.
The sailing was first. And the rowing races, they came last.
That was the real competitive stuff.
There would may be, say, eight, ten boats competing.
It was a friendly rivalry.
All the villagers knew one another,
they nearly all worked in the pits together, in the mines,
and the language was quite colourful.
But they were great days.
They were things that you talked about for a long time after,
what happened at the regatta. Who were you dancing with?
Who did you take home? You know? How many fish suppers did you eat after?
I might not be anywhere near as tough as a 20th-century coal miner,
but I'm about to have my rowing skills put to the test.
Back in the town of Anstruther,
a 21st-century regatta is about to kick off.
I'm going to be rowing with the local team,
and there's just enough time for quick training session
with team-mate Audrey Horsburgh,
one of the many women who's taken this sport to their heart.
-You've got another willing victim. What can I do?
-This is for you.
We're going to have a wee practice first
and then we're going to head out and do a little race.
-You'll be sitting in number two.
-Right, what do I need to do?
-..drop your oar in the water, pull forward...
-..And push back out.
It won't be as extreme as that.
-The boat will be sitting level.
-This could be interesting.
I love boats, but this is worryingly reminding me
of PE classes in high school.
Not good memories.
Emma's oar should be going in the water at exactly the same time.
That was a shambles.
Could that be a race-winning stroke?
Eddie has joined the spectators
to cast an experienced eye on our training.
Eddie, I'm so glad you made it. What do you think my chances?
-Not very good. I've got a fiver on the red boat.
I can't wait to see you lose your money.
The teams for the local derby are ready.
The race is going to be from the beach, up to the harbour wall,
round the buoy and back to the beach. First team out of the boat
and on the beach, wins.
It's Anstruther versus the nearby villages
of Pittenweem and Crail.
That's it, James, you pull the stroke.
Pittenweem are on fire, Crail are a close second,
and then there's us.
We're looking really last.
I think we'll call it third.
Rowing prodigy I may not be.
I can tell you, that looks so easy from the beach.
I hope you're out of breath.
You raise them hard up in Scotland.
Well I've managed to stay remarkably dry after all of that,
but will that be the same for the rest of us in the week ahead?
Here's the Countryfile forecast.
This week, we're in the historic Kingdom of Fife.
I've been exploring the north-eastern corner,
known as Tentsmuir.
The area got its name from tents on the moor,
when shipwrecked sailors set up home on the moorland next to the beach.
Little would they have known how apt that name would become,
but in very different circumstances, centuries later.
Tentsmuir Forest became the backdrop for a tale of hardship,
workmanship and ultimately friendship,
and if you spend a few minutes just looking around
you will find evidence of it everywhere.
what crimes has Hitler
and all that Hitler stands for
brought upon Europe and the world?
War breaks out as Nazi Germany invades Poland.
Despite valiant efforts, the Polish army is scattered.
By 1940, more than 20,000 now very experienced Polish soldiers
arrive in England...
..but are quickly transported north to Scotland.
The beaches of Tentsmuir in the eastern coast were thought
to be a prime target for German invasion.
Gordon Barclay has been researching
the lives of the Polish troops who came here.
What did the British Army make of them?
I think, at first, they didn't know what to make of them
and they assumed, as they were foreigners,
they couldn't teach us anything, but very quickly
they realised just how committed and professional they were,
and by the late winter of '40, '41,
they were being reported on as ideal, what they call shock troops,
to lead assaults because they were so tough,
and they were placed here,
in the most strategically vulnerable part of Scotland
to defend the coast against an expected German invasion.
Evidence of those defences can still be seen today,
like these anti-tank blocks.
-Were they responsible for these?
Most of them were actually put up in the summer of 1940,
but when the Poles arrived,
they weren't very impressed by the quality of what had been built,
and they set about building new ones,
building new pillboxes for machine guns and anti-tank guns on the beach.
With the arrival of so many Polish soldiers, the Kingdom of Fife
and the nation of Poland would become linked for ever.
Lech Muszynski was 11
when he was separated from his father during the war.
He was sent to a deportee camp in the Soviet Union
with his mother and sister.
But his father and the other Polish soldiers arrived in Scotland
to fight on.
It wasn't until six years later he was reunited
with his father, here in Fife. Lech was 17.
-And that's you and him, is it?
-Yes, that is our first meeting.
The first meeting when I arrived in Leven in 1945.
It was my first meeting with my father after six years,
and he didn't recognise me at all.
Did you recognise him?
I recognised him but he didn't. He said, "What can I do for you?"
It's great to be back, especially on a day like this,
because, to me,
this is one of the most beautiful forests you can think of.
I spent all my young days in here.
My father taught me everything, everything I know about this forest,
as he knew it inside out.
Like thousands of Polish soldiers, Lech's father spent many hours
here at Tentsmuir as part of military training and manoeuvres.
Tentsmuir went from being a haven for wildlife to a home for men.
They met with the British guys who said,
"Listen, guys, there is all the tools, spades and hammers.
"Build yourself a camp, and make it a good one,
"because you're going to be here for a while." And they built the camp.
It was basically under canvas, but later on they improved on it.
Most of the camp was built of corrugated iron and asbestos.
At that time it was OK to use.
And what was the reaction from Scottish people
when the likes of your dad and the Polish soldiers came?
My father said that the Scots people, to start with,
were a bit apprehensive because of the language barrier,
Very quickly, Scots realised what the soldiers were here for,
that they were doing a duty, and he said they took them
to their homes and to their hearts.
He said, from then on, he said they were like one big family.
After the war, around 6,000 Polish troops settled here in Scotland.
Amidst the heaving of concrete and military manoeuvres,
these two nations came together.
Life wasn't always easy but over the years, they formed the basis
for the vibrant Scottish-Polish community that still exists today.
Tentsmuir never did see a German invasion,
but it did see a union formed by war and cemented in peace time.
Well, that's all we've got time for from the Kingdom of Fife.
Next week, get your cameras at the ready,
as will be in the Teign Valley in Devon to launch this year's
Countryfile photographic competition, and we'll reveal
how much the calendar has raised for Children In Need.
So we hope you can join us then.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Countryfile is in the historic kingdom of Fife. Matt Baker explores Tentsmuir forest - a haven for wildlife where the artist in residence has set up a virtual trail so that any visitor is guaranteed to see badgers, otters and other animals which make their home in the forest.
James Wong finds out all about the old fishing boat called a Skiff. Once used for fishing off the north Scottish islands, this sturdy rowing boat is now raced by local clubs up and down the coastline but how will James fair in a regatta?
Helen Skelton is also in Fife, at Falkland Palace which was once the playground of royalty in the 16th century. Mary Queen of Scots would once have gone hunting and hawking there and the oldest surviving real tennis court is still seeing some action - not least when Helen takes on Mary in a singles match.
Ellie Harrison is on the mut-flats off the Hampshire coast looking for native oysters and Little terns.
Tom Heap is across the Irish sea investigating one of the most controversial issues in the countryside - culling badgers. The cull in England to reduce the spread to bovine TB may be new but in ireland they've been doing it for years. Tom looks at what the Irish experience can tell us about the best way to tackle this costly problem.
Adam Henson meets a dog with a rare talent. Jess, the eight-year-old springer spaniel bottle feeds the lambs on her owners Devon farm.