22/02/2012 Winterwatch


22/02/2012

Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games are in the Brecon Beacons National Park to reveal how the UK's wildlife is faring after plummeting temperatures this winter.


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Transcript


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Welcome to Winterwatch. For the next hour, we are going to bring

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you the very best of Britain's wintry wildlife, coming here from

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the beautiful Brecon Beacons here in South Wales. And we are here on

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the most glorious day to celebrate, and yes, I did say celebrate, went

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up. As you will find out, there are masses to see and do as long as you

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wrap up warm. So what happens to our wildlife in winter? How does it

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manage to survive this harsh, unforgiving season?

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Winter. It is the season of extremes. It is the coldest, the

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windiest, the wettest and also the darkest time of the year, and yet

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it can also be the most beautiful. It is a truly challenging few

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months for our wildlife, a real test of the fittest, but as ABBA,

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nature has devised ingenious solutions to allow our wildlife to

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overcome the trials of winter -- as Winter brings some of our greatest

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wildlife spectacles. So why not get the thermals on, get out and so cut

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some of the wonders of the season? -- so Cup.

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This says that winter is in a glorious season? -- who says. We

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have been out on the trail of some of Britain's finest winter wildlife.

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Charlie Hamilton James has been enjoying fabulous views of one of

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our favourite animals. Maya Plass helped Martin to survive a -- sold

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Lavery and mystery. Gordon Buchanan braved the cold to find out how one

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of the our toughest birds makes it through the winter. Michaela

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Strachan caught up with our swallows, who have flown 6,000

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miles to South Africa. As always, we will be trying to answer some of

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your questions and look at some of your spectacular photographs.

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all of this, we wanted a spectacular location and we have

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got one. Behind us there, capped with snow, Brecon Beacons National

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Park. The highest mountain in southern Britain, Pen-y-Fan, 886

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metres. For every 100m that you go up, it is said that it dropped one

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degree centigrade and it is pretty chilly up there. A tough place to

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be wildlife. Perhaps surprisingly, winter is actually a great time to

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go wildlife watching. One of the best places to go this time of year

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is an estuary. Chris showed me why. Martin, I have brought you here to

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celebrate something quintessentially British. By the

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patriotic? Do you know, I am. This here is the Diamond Jubilee. The

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Olympics. -- this year. It the British Olympics will be the best

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there has ever been. We invented everything from Parliament to punk

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rock and we make the best motor bikes are the world. You forgot two

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things. Spik fires and Geoff Hurst. And I am patriotic as well --

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Spitfires. What I had actually brought you here to see his great

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British mud. Mud? Go on, then, in we go. How is it? Martin, this mutt

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is globally important, -- mud. Because of the Gulf Stream, a body

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of warm water that reaches right up to the top a bystander and sweets

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that the British coast, keeping our waters unfroze and and relatively

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ball back reaches the top of ice land and sweeps down. As a result,

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hundreds and 1,000 -- thousands, millions of birds come here to

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exploit this resource. This very rich resource. Actually, Chris,

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12.5 million wildfowl use our estuaries, marshes and mudflats

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every winter. Half of the entire world population of golden plovers

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come here. Almost three-quarters of the world's knot make the most of

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our mud. And an unbelievable 91% of black-tailed godwits come to our

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shores this time of year. But why do all these birds find our

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This mud has a very high calorific value. There is a sort of scale, it

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is a chocolate bar scale. Take this chocolate bar. One cubic metre of

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mud can contain up to 38 chocolate- covered bars of calories. By Jude

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Law of science? A chocolate bar scale -- don't you just love

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science? This cubic metre of mud also contains an idiotic presenter

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who has trodden into it. This could end very badly. It is not about

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chocolate for the birds. This is absolutely packed with invertebrate

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life. Shellfish, worms, you name it, it is in that. The problem is, they

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have got to get it out. How are they going to get it out? Let's go

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and look at some birds getting it out.

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The key thing is of, of course, all of these birds have different

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beaches. They are all after different things in the mud at

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different depths. That means they can all feed in the same place at

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the same time, but by feeding on different things at different

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depths. So even in one foot of mud, different species will exploit

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different bits. And the way they find it is fantastic. Some of them

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have super-sensitive tips to their bill. You imagine a bird's billed

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as being tough, but the tip of it can be quite soft and flexible, and

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it is filled with a mass of nerves that can send any movement in the

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mud. Others can even pick up electrical current in the mud that

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are made as the creatures move through it. It is a whole range of

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methods they have to get food dead. Sometimes they just put it in, have

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a little feel and move on. Sometimes they will throw it in and

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out of the mud. -- mud. I have tapped -- seen Italian mud, it is

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rubbish. I have seen the enemies mutter, it is rubbish. A Brazilian

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mud? This is the mud that really counts. The mud of that matters.

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Great British mud! The mud of that matters. Where were you for that?

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We were near Lymington in Hampshire. But the thing about the UK, there

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is a lot of estuaries, Exe, the Wash, Morecambe Bay. Wherever you

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are, there is an estuary nature. Slimbridge is fantastic, the

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headquarters of the wildfowl Trust in Gloucestershire. Ian Llewellyn

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spent the day there recently. Just bear that in mind, one day, and

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 86 seconds

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Absolutely glorious. I love a steaming a cormorant. But we have

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also had some pictures sent in by the viewers, and one bird has

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cropped up time and time again. Here they are, this one... And Al,

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clearly, but not one we I used to seeing. -- and Al. This is a short-

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eared owl, and this winter, there has been a huge influx. Sometimes

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they were coming in from the coast 40 or 50 at a time from Scandinavia

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and we are seeing irruptive migration, not a regular migration

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that happens every year, it requires special conditions. What

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we think might have happened is there has been a very good breeding

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season in Scandinavia, lots of lemmings, lots of small mammal prey,

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then it got cold and they have got to go somewhere and they have come

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to the UK. We have had lots of to the UK. We have had lots of

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pictures coming. This one is really nice. Shame about the wire! Look at

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this one, that is gorgeous. Nice grass, reflecting the colours and

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the bird is beautifully lit. It is the bird is beautifully lit. It is

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not just you who have been out capturing short-eared owls on

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camera, our cameraman did the same. Have a look at this fabulous

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footage of a short-eared owl hunting, by the looks of things.

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really buoyant flight. That is what those long wings all about. They

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are not nocturnal, they will hunt in daylight. It has spotted

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something and it immediately swoops down, with its wings back so it

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would damage them. It has either heard it or it has seen it and it

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plunges down into the grass. It is a small mammal of some kind. When

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you see it taking off, initially it is in its peak and then its swaps

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it to its feet and makes its way off to eat it, possibly away from

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it being stolen by another bird. real winter treat for us, but you

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may think why on earth are these birds making the effort to come

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here, when it is not exactly tropical? Bear in mind that in

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Scandinavia and continental Europe, it is even colder than theirs. So

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this is like a summer holiday for a short-eared owl. -- called the

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bandits. -- colder than this. This is the weather station at the

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Every day at 9 o'clock on the dot, measurements are taken and they are

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sent to the Met Office. Let's have a look and see what the temperature

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is now. It is minus 5.5 and I can tell you, it is extremely Parky.

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That has not been the story of winter so far. November was the

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warmest on record, it really was. December was the mildest for five

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years, and extraordinarily, in Aberdeen Shia on Boxing Day, it was

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a positively tropical 15C. We could do with a bit of that now. But what

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has all this warmth meant for our wildlife? George told us that on

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Christmas Day, 12:30pm, he saw a red admirable -- Red Admiral fly

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past the window. He called his wife and daughter to confirm. A lot of

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you have seen them. They should by rights be hibernating, but in the

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warm, they will be out flying around. Now it is so cold, let's

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hope they have all gone to sleep. Thank you, Martin. This month,

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everything changed. Gone were the balmy days of December and January

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and along came sub-zero temperatures, frost and some snow.

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And very pretty it was as well. The landscape at last started to look

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like a proper winter Wonderland. did for a few days, it was

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fantastic. It was quite a relief after all of that much and drizzle

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in December. -- mud. Where did it come from? Europe finally got cold.

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Up in fin land, it got them to minus 36. Even in Germany, it was

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down into the minus 20s and this had a big impact. Many bird species

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finally got the push from continental Europe and came over

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here to the UK. Everyone was out of bed with their cameras getting some

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splendid pictures, which was sent That is what is fantastic about

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winter, get great wildlife pictures. But some have been in touch to see

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that birds have not been coming to your gardens budget trick in

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December when it pours so warm. The reason is there was a lot of food

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available through the countryside. So any birds could still find worms.

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But of course that changed this month when the cold snap came in. I

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noticed birds coming into the tedious in my garden. Although the

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cold snap has been quite short so far, do you think it could have a

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detrimental affect on birds? Generally it needs to be cold for a

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longer period. The data has been analysed and some of the smaller

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species, those prone to losing heat more quickly, did suffer. Robins

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and song thrushes, even hedge birds down by 21%. But after the

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prolonged period we had a mild spring last year and then we have

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records because the birds were so productive. Chaffinches had their

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best ever breeding seasons in the spring. So nature balanced out.

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did. And I think unless we get a very long called period now, it

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will not be as bad as the past two winters. While some species in this

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country have adapted to deal would these very cold conditions. Gordon

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Buchanan headed to the Cairngorms It is a true Arctic specialist. The

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ptarmigan. It has adapted to live in extreme conditions of the high

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mountains and is the UK's toughest bird bone reputation. I have been

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given special permission to camp up here. Winter days are short and I

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have to be out at first light. But putting up a tent in a gale-force

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wind is not easy. Warmth is one of those simple

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pleasures we take for granted! Incredible to think that these

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ptarmigan are living out their. I'm going to try to get some rest.

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In the morning the weather has closed in. I took all this

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equipment into my tent, former clothing, and an having a

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increasing appreciation for what these ptarmigan are up against. I'm

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definitely not warm and cosy! There we go, I knew we were going

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to see one. Perfect. These ptarmigan have evolved to exist

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appear in many ways, it even their feet are feathered. They kind of

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act like snowshoes. You can see the Anne Picking and the vegetation. It

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is this kind of Alpine, shrubby kind of plant that they are feeding

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on. They will actually store food in their crop so during the cold

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nights they can sit there and regurgitate and feeding through the

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night. The thing that does it for me but these birds is their ability

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to change colour. As the mountain top is covered in snow lit

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ptarmigan also change their colour. When the weather is really bad they

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will actually dig little snow holes and tuck themselves in down there.

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Ptarmigan and I definitely one of my favourite birds. It is

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incredible that they can exist up here all year round. And what I

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learned after last night is that they belong here and I do not!

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That is one tough bird! Tough bloke as well! We are hiding in the

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centre! I have got something to show you. It is slightly

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embarrassing, but at least we can have a close look at one. I

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inherited this, it was shot by my father! That was 50 years ago. How

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do they change the colour of their feathers? Well the feather itself

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cannot change colour, it is dead material, but they moult their

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feathers in wintertime. Let's move on! Since that time when your

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father was able to shoot that, if they were a lot more abundant.

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Barbara it wants to know more about why some animals change the colour

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of their fur in winter. Well like the birds it is a moulding process,

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they have to physically changed their fur. And they produce a cult

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which is not rich in pigment. Their ears can remain black so they can

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keep them warm, basically. The length of the day is what triggers

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it. The temperature controls the speed at which they turn colour but

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it is also genetically controlled as well. If you take a southern

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stoat up to Scotland and leave it on the top of the mountain it will

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not turn colour because it is not genetically programmed to do that.

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Some animals in the winter are able to change them stumps physically

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but others change their behaviour. -- themselves. Some bird species

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gathered together in huge groups at this time of year, in their tens of

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thousands, like these rocks. It is fantastic sight for us but also has

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some important advantages for the birds. For a start there are more

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pairs of eyes on the lookout. But it is also about warmth. In winter

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wagtails often come into the city centre looking for a warm place to

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spend the night. And hundreds of Pied wagtails are making the most

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of the escaped heat from this building. But the most impressive

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have to beat starlings. Their vast swimming murmurations on winter

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evenings are magnificent. They roost in large groups like these on

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Aberystwyth peer. They can reduce their overnight heat loss by up to

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one-third simply by huddling together. Not all birds will do

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that, some will leave the shores in pursuit of much warmer weather.

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Mikaela Strachan did the same thing. -- Michaela. We sent her on the

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trail of one of our summer species. I mean South Africa on my way to

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find out where one of our favourite little birds migrates to in our

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winter. I'm joining local bird watcher Andrew Pickles in am

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massive reed bed where the birds spend the night. Andrew is an

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experienced birdwatcher and hopes to catch some swallows to shed some

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light on their epic migration. This is the spot. I think we will put up

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the next in a straight line down there. How many birds to expect?

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could be up to 1.5 million. What kind of time to expect them?

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would say any time from about a quarter to seven onwards.

:24:27.:24:37.
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So we have got a bit of time. What about predators? Yes we have a

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bird that migrates with the swallows, and he is sensible, he

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migrates with his prey! So we're all set up? Yes we just need to put

:25:01.:25:07.

on recording of their roosting call which hopefully will attract them

:25:07.:25:15.

into the nets. This is amazing, it is starting. Oh

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my goodness! Literally within two minutes, suddenly all of them have

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:25:33.:25:39.

come over us. The sky becomes full. Look at that! They're just in and

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:25:49.:25:52.

out. They're just everywhere. huge numbers.

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You have caught masses tonight. I make that 51. That is not bad.

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What happens to them now? They will remain in those bags overnight.

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it just too dark to ring them and release them tonight? Yes. They are

:26:22.:26:32.
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quite content. Are we ready to go? I will take the birds.

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How long have you been ringing these birds of this most? About

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three to four years. And what have you learnt? Well for the swallows

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we have learnt their migration routes, these swallows can live up

:26:53.:27:00.

to 10 or 11 years of age. That is a lot of flying. If you think about

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it they travel to Europe and back every year for 10 years. One of

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your British birds has been here! So if there is one there is going

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to be 100. The important thing is to check the state of its primary

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feathers. As soon as they arrive from Europe they will start malting.

:27:30.:27:35.

When they get to the Last Feather then we know they're getting ready

:27:35.:27:45.
:27:45.:27:47.

to migrate. If the female bird does not return within a few days, the

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male will find himself another mate! That is harsh! But it is

:27:55.:28:02.

incredible that they fly back to the same spot year after year.

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Reconnect this one go. -- we can't let.

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I guess without any of that ringing going on you would not for one

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minute think that they have flown all the way from Europe to South

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Africa. Not at all. For the size of the bird it is hard to imagine that

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they could fly that kind of distance. Good luck!

:28:36.:28:42.

Michaela has got the right idea, going south for the winter! Well

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those swallows will quite shortly be heading north. We should see

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them returning to Britain Roundabout April. Yes some of the

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early ones at the end of March. then there are the Ospreys. We went

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to follow the young Ospreys in the autumn. And those youngsters will

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not least but the adults will start heading back. The youngsters will

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stay in West Africa and then start to make their way back in the next

:29:13.:29:21.

One of the other species we were looking at last year was the

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cuckoos. They have been fitted with new technology, satellite tax,

:29:26.:29:30.

which meant we could see where they had gone for the winter. They have

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been down here in central West Africa. They are beginning to get

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fidgety. Martin the cuckoo has been rumbling about, he has moved 90

:29:38.:29:43.

miles north. Perhaps not starting his migration, perhaps looking for

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his car keys. In the springtime, for the first time ever, we are

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going to find out the route that these birds take back to Europe and

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hopefully back to the UK and we will bring you update on that.

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will, but what do you do if you can't fly south? What do you do if

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you have to stay here? You tough it out. One of the ways to do that is

:30:05.:30:08.

to simply go to sleep. Take a leaf out of the Book of hedgehogs, bats

:30:09.:30:14.

and dormice. They will sleep their way through the cold snap and wake

:30:14.:30:17.

of a very sensibly when it starts to get warmer. We have had an

:30:17.:30:22.

interesting question, what happens to things like insects and

:30:22.:30:26.

invertebrates, how do they get through the winter? Many of them

:30:26.:30:30.

hibernate as well. Many of the adult butterflies, tortoise shell,

:30:30.:30:37.

red admiral, brimstone, they will hibernate as adult in Stakes. -- in

:30:37.:30:40.

sex. They will start to become active in the spring when they

:30:40.:30:47.

start to lay their eggs. But that inspects -- other adult insects

:30:47.:30:51.

don't hibernate as adults, but as La they, and hide away from the

:30:51.:30:55.

stove. Some of them have compounds within them like an defies that

:30:55.:31:00.

stop them from a freezing -- anti- freeze. Then you have queen wasps

:31:00.:31:03.

and bumblebees, they are fertilised females and only they survive from

:31:03.:31:07.

the colony and in the springtime, they are some of the first one she

:31:07.:31:11.

will see out, looking for a safe spot to stopover in the new year.

:31:11.:31:16.

You may think it's the perfect time of the year to be hibernating, but

:31:16.:31:20.

going to the seaside in the depths of winter? Surely not. Martin might

:31:20.:31:27.

just change your mind. This is Salcombe in Devon. I used

:31:28.:31:34.

to come here every year five family holiday, a houseboat. Out there.

:31:34.:31:38.

And in summer, it is packed with people. But in the depths of winter,

:31:38.:31:42.

it is a very different story, almost deserted. So the people are

:31:42.:31:48.

gone, what about the wildlife? To uncover some of the secret of the

:31:48.:31:51.

seashore in winter, I'm joining marine biologist Maya Plass, who

:31:51.:31:57.

knows just where to look. Why are we on an old pontoon?

:31:57.:32:02.

Pontoons are the best place to look for things. Underneath this will be

:32:02.:32:06.

all sorts of amazing creatures, it is like a barrier Reef seen. Stick

:32:06.:32:14.

your head right over. There are tons of things. Loads of really

:32:14.:32:19.

beautiful anemones. There is a crab. A velvet swimming crab. And behind

:32:19.:32:28.

that, there is a coral, called Dead man's fingers. I am amazed that the

:32:28.:32:35.

richness. And it is called. It is. There is one down there, a sponge

:32:35.:32:40.

called mermaids globe. The they had such lovely names. Apart from dead

:32:40.:32:45.

man's fingers. The sea is cold in winter and the

:32:45.:32:48.

water tends to be clear as there's less algae and plankton. And low

:32:49.:32:56.

tide reveals a miscellany of marine marvels. There is a welcome.

:32:56.:33:04.

that just a shell? It is a live one. It has bid for Caird. It is holding

:33:04.:33:10.

itself in the mud. -- it has bit put out. That is how they glide

:33:10.:33:17.

around. That stops it from drying - - drying up, and if any predators

:33:17.:33:22.

try and get into eat the flesh, it is a protective device. I just

:33:22.:33:27.

thought it was an empty shell. Shall we put him back? Yes, put him

:33:27.:33:32.

back. Another really good place is to

:33:32.:33:40.

look here. These are rare eggs. They are. That is actually the egg

:33:40.:33:45.

capsule of what we just saw. In the spring Bunce, perfectly formed ones

:33:45.:33:50.

will come out. -- spring guns. is a mollusc egg, that squishy

:33:50.:33:55.

thing. So even in the depths of winter, there's plenty of wildlife

:33:55.:33:58.

around, but we were not expecting this, something neither of us have

:33:58.:34:08.
:34:08.:34:16.

ever seen before. Is it natural or There it was. A couple of times.

:34:16.:34:24.

That was nearly one metre. Come on, Maya. What the heck is squirting

:34:24.:34:28.

this war to read? All around here, you have evidence of some of the

:34:28.:34:34.

bivalves, a type of Shell, a type of snail, and they bury into the

:34:34.:34:39.

water. They filter water out and as they squirt the water out into the

:34:39.:34:44.

water, at high-tide, you wouldn't see it, but now you will see it

:34:44.:34:48.

squirting out. You will see it with a razor clams and things. There's

:34:48.:34:56.

only one way to finally solve this mystery. I can see something.

:34:56.:35:06.
:35:06.:35:08.

is that? Look. Shall we give it a Isn't that amazing? What a bizarre

:35:09.:35:16.

structure. You think that is out all the time? It looks like it. I

:35:16.:35:23.

think it is called a gaper. We have solved the mystery. That is the

:35:23.:35:27.

mystery squirt of. By day out with Maya Is a perfect

:35:27.:35:32.

example of what makes a seaside in winter so special -- my day out. It

:35:32.:35:39.

is just full of surprises. Chris, Chris, Chris. Look at that,

:35:39.:35:45.

Martyn. A just out of the blue, there it is. Here we are in Wales,

:35:45.:35:52.

the perfect thing in -- on a better day it is... A red kite. The emblem

:35:52.:35:57.

of these Brecon Hills. It is quartering, looking for small

:35:57.:36:01.

mammals, I'm unlucky rabbit, perhaps. That is what they will do

:36:01.:36:06.

even in the middle of winter. If you are red, due can see things

:36:06.:36:10.

like that. They -- out you can see things.

:36:10.:36:13.

Another creature you might seek out and about in winter, especially

:36:13.:36:23.

near a river, is an otter. Charlie Hamilton James heard about an otter

:36:23.:36:27.

family on an urban river and has his own theory about why such

:36:28.:36:33.

younger cubs a might be around this time of year. -- might be around.

:36:33.:36:38.

So hard to spot in this murky water. It is so nice, there is a bit of

:36:38.:36:48.
:36:48.:36:50.

It is so nice, there is a bit of tend to have their cubs in winter,

:36:50.:36:55.

because they are going to stick around with their mother, they have

:36:55.:36:58.

had this summer whether hunting is easy and they have honed their

:36:58.:37:03.

skills by the time the winter comes -- aware of the hunting is easy.

:37:03.:37:09.

And then they can make it on their own. I would say that covers three

:37:09.:37:15.

or four months old. -- that young cub. It has another few months with

:37:16.:37:19.

its mother and it has to learn the skills of being an otter. It isn't

:37:19.:37:25.

just fishing, it is learning to fight, learning to hold territory,

:37:25.:37:30.

learning what a good territory is. A whole load of stuff that this

:37:30.:37:34.

tiny otter has got to learn from Maugham. They have gone quite a

:37:34.:37:39.

long way away, so I suggest we go and find them -- learned from a

:37:39.:37:43.

mother. I am quite surprised to see that

:37:43.:37:47.

mother and a Moore with one club, because I had heard reports of one

:37:47.:37:51.

with two. Either she has lost one of her young or there is another

:37:51.:38:01.
:38:01.:38:04.

there is a lovely Kingfisher. She has a bright red lower beak, which

:38:04.:38:13.

means she is female, and she is in great condition. Look at that,

:38:13.:38:23.
:38:23.:38:33.

I am not sure if it is the same ones I have already seen. It looks

:38:33.:38:40.

smaller, that one. There is a very high-pitched whistle. The reason is,

:38:40.:38:50.
:38:50.:38:57.

three otters. Beautiful. They are far too small to be catching food

:38:57.:39:01.

for themselves. They are totally reliant on their mother to do the

:39:01.:39:06.

fishing for them. So she has quite a lot of pressure on, she has to

:39:06.:39:12.

catch food not just for herself but for these two. When you bear in

:39:12.:39:16.

mind, and adult otter is putting away about one kilo of fish a day,

:39:16.:39:22.

that is quite a lot of work to do to feed everyone.

:39:22.:39:29.

You can hear sirens. It is a busy main road just there. I am about

:39:29.:39:36.

100m from the supermarket car-park. Another siren. This is the modern

:39:36.:39:44.

otter. Living in cities. Coming out in the day. Getting used to people.

:39:44.:39:48.

This is basically exactly what foxes did in the 1970s and eighties,

:39:49.:39:54.

when they became urbanised and came into cities. Now the otters are

:39:54.:40:04.
:40:04.:40:07.

I have nipped down the road from the mountain centre to meet Wynn

:40:07.:40:09.

Morgan from the Brecon Beacons National Park.

:40:09.:40:13.

Charlie said it is a great time of year not just to see otters but

:40:13.:40:17.

other sort of revolt wildlife, including a bird I know you will

:40:17.:40:23.

love and I certainly know, and it it is -- it is dippers. Is this a

:40:23.:40:27.

good river for them? It is fantastic, it is fast flowing, you

:40:27.:40:33.

can see how clear the water is, it is ideal. They are just such

:40:33.:40:35.

is ideal. They are just such handsome birds, and much more

:40:35.:40:42.

robust than you think. Quite chunky little things. He is just purged on

:40:42.:40:47.

that rock with that lovely white breast showing. -- purged. Here he

:40:47.:40:57.
:40:57.:40:59.

his days patrolling? It is several hundred metres of river. Yes,

:40:59.:41:05.

between the three bridges, I would say. The family of dippers we were

:41:05.:41:09.

watching it Springwatch nested right in a waterfall. There is no

:41:09.:41:13.

water for I can see, but where do they nest along here? That

:41:13.:41:20.

waterfall. We put nest boxes up. We have one on the bridge, and one on

:41:20.:41:24.

the bottom Bridge. I have brought one with me, we need to put one on

:41:24.:41:28.

the middle Bridge. A I can feel work coming on. I can see why

:41:28.:41:33.

looking pretty fit. There is no such thing as a quiet afternoon's

:41:33.:41:43.
:41:43.:41:49.

bird-watching! I will get my drill ladder? I was hoping he would, but

:41:49.:41:59.
:41:59.:42:01.

There we go, a nice new nest site for the dippers and if you want to

:42:01.:42:04.

do the same for your garden birds, let's go back to Chris and Martin,

:42:04.:42:12.

who have lots of advice for you. So if I am thinking of putting up a

:42:12.:42:16.

bird box in the garden, what should I be thinking about? Doing it now.

:42:16.:42:20.

Now is the time to get them up because birds will be prospecting

:42:20.:42:23.

at this time of year to make sure there are nest holes available in

:42:23.:42:28.

their territory so they can start straight away. And where do we put

:42:28.:42:32.

them? It is very garden specific, so you have to use commonsense, but

:42:32.:42:36.

don't put them where they are very exposed and will get lots of bad

:42:36.:42:40.

weather but equally don't put them in the sunshine, where you will

:42:40.:42:44.

cook the eggs and the young in the sun. And put them away from where

:42:44.:42:48.

there might be predators, Catt, sparrowhawks. They like bushes to

:42:48.:42:54.

be close by, so they birds can land and fly in and come out safely.

:42:54.:42:59.

they don't get used one year, do you leave them or what? Move them.

:42:59.:43:04.

It is very difficult to get your head into that of a blue tit or a

:43:04.:43:10.

great tit. I have tried it, I have drunk eight pints and climbed into

:43:10.:43:15.

a box. It is just not in the right place, move it the next winter and

:43:15.:43:19.

shifted until eventually you are in the same thought pattern as the

:43:19.:43:24.

birds -- shift it. I have a question. I took this box from my

:43:24.:43:29.

garden only yesterday, what has done this? This has been opened by

:43:29.:43:34.

a grey squirrel. Grey squirrel are quite serious predators, really,

:43:34.:43:38.

art -- of young birds and even eggs in a nestbox like this. Woodpeckers

:43:38.:43:42.

will open them as well, they tend to open them at the bottom, but

:43:42.:43:48.

there are no Peck mark, this has been chewed by a squirrel. I had a

:43:49.:43:53.

way you can overcome this problem. You put a little metal plate on

:43:53.:43:59.

here and that. The squirrels from their large in the hole. -- that

:43:59.:44:03.

will stop. Get yourself a played like this, you can stick them on to

:44:03.:44:08.

any nestbox. Bath played. We have been putting them up already. Al

:44:09.:44:12.

wildlife cameraman has been out and hopefully he has put them in the

:44:12.:44:15.

right place so we can bring you some super pictures in time for

:44:15.:44:25.
:44:25.:44:43.

Winter it may look like a quiet and dormant time in the woodland. When

:44:43.:44:48.

it is cold and windy the leaves can get damaged so many of the plants

:44:48.:44:55.

that grow via survive the winter in a resting stage.

:44:55.:45:00.

Most of the trees we have in the UK are deciduous which means that they

:45:00.:45:04.

lose their leaves to stop them from freezing. But Prince agreed to

:45:04.:45:09.

reduce water loss. That is not to say that there are not signs of

:45:09.:45:15.

life. Here are the buds just waiting for the temperature and the

:45:15.:45:19.

like to be right before they burst out. Trees produce their buds at

:45:19.:45:24.

the end of summer, they would not have the energy to produce complex

:45:24.:45:29.

structures like this during the winter. During the autumn and

:45:29.:45:33.

winter the buds are small and insignificant but in the spring

:45:33.:45:41.

they swell up just before they are ready to open. Before the tree's

:45:41.:45:46.

shade out the floor of the woodland there is a window of opportunity

:45:46.:45:52.

and the flowers race to make the most of that light. Primroses,

:45:52.:45:55.

bluebells are sure signs that spring has arrived. But the first

:45:55.:45:59.

of the year are the snowdrops and this year they have been especially

:45:59.:46:05.

early, the first actually coming out in mid-December. Snowdrops are

:46:05.:46:10.

not strictly speaking and native species. But they have become

:46:10.:46:14.

ingrained in our culture as a sign that the winter is ending. It is

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

thought they came from Italy in the 15th century. The tip of the

:46:24.:46:30.

flowering stem is covered with a protective leaf, so it can push up

:46:30.:46:35.

through the soil without the flour getting damaged in the process.

:46:35.:46:41.

Typically this species spreads by bulbs dividing. But it may also be

:46:41.:46:46.

pollinated if it is warm enough and you have insects like bumble bees

:46:46.:46:51.

and even flies that active. When the temperature reaches 10 degrees

:46:51.:46:55.

the petals will open up horizontally and then the insects

:46:55.:47:00.

can see the pattering on the petals that will attract them to the

:47:00.:47:03.

nectar and get them to carry the pollen. There are a beautiful plant

:47:03.:47:08.

and at the moment they have got the woodland pretty much to themselves.

:47:08.:47:15.

But spring is on its way so they had better make the most of it.

:47:15.:47:20.

Snowdrops are lovely it this time of year, they bring a smile to your

:47:20.:47:25.

face. Now plants are dormant in the winter which means that it is a

:47:25.:47:31.

good time of year to plan things like trees. I have, little further

:47:31.:47:41.

down into the bracken is. You want to plant this cheap to replace that

:47:41.:47:47.

rather splendid one that has come down in the winter storms. It is

:47:47.:47:54.

important that the ground has not frozen? Exactly. We are also making

:47:54.:48:03.

a square hole. If you dig a round hole the roads would just go round

:48:03.:48:10.

instead of spreading out. So better to do it in a rectangle. Well I'm

:48:10.:48:20.

going to watch you admiringly! How deep does it need to be? Just about

:48:20.:48:30.
:48:30.:48:35.

the depth of the pot. Trees are not really very deep rooted. The club's

:48:35.:48:40.

owner took off the top we will put in the bottom because they contain

:48:40.:48:50.
:48:50.:48:54.

nutrients. -- the clods. probably know that this is the

:48:54.:48:58.

Jubilee year, at the Queen has been on the throne for 60 years and the

:48:58.:49:02.

Woodland Trust want to mug that occasion and leave a fantastic

:49:02.:49:07.

Legacy by encouraging all of us to plant trees. They would like 6

:49:07.:49:12.

million trees to be planted throughout the UK this year. And

:49:12.:49:16.

ideally they would like 1 million of those to be planted this month.

:49:16.:49:21.

So if you want to find out more and make sure that the tree you plant

:49:21.:49:26.

counts as part of this wonderful national jubilee celebration, then

:49:26.:49:32.

you can find all the details on our website. There's something else you

:49:32.:49:36.

can do this winter it just as rewarding. But you'll have to get

:49:36.:49:43.

up before dawn. If you set your alarm clock a little earlier, get

:49:43.:49:47.

yourself a cup of tea and step out site. You could be in for a winter

:49:47.:49:55.

a surprise. 6:30am. Wildlife sound recorders Chris Watson has agreed

:49:55.:50:00.

to drop round to my house to help unravel the dawn chorus in the back

:50:00.:50:07.

garden. We can instantly identify a robin,

:50:07.:50:11.

it is beautiful stop Chris has brought along some kit that will

:50:11.:50:21.
:50:21.:50:25.

help pinpoint individual bird songs. That is the tawny owl. Fantastic.

:50:25.:50:35.
:50:35.:50:42.

And that is a cockerel! Why do they tend to sink at first light?

:50:42.:50:46.

think they're singing now because actually it is too dark to feed.

:50:46.:50:49.

They have just woken up so what they need to do is defend their

:50:49.:50:55.

territory. The need to sing so all the neighbours know, I'm still here,

:50:55.:51:04.

it still defending this territory. Some of the songs are fantastic and

:51:04.:51:13.

complicated, like that of the Robin. The females like complexity? It is

:51:13.:51:18.

a complex sound because they're giving multiple messages. Telling

:51:18.:51:23.

rival males, do not come here. And also giving come on messages to the

:51:23.:51:31.

female at the same time. And we are no work here understanding it.

:51:32.:51:36.

someone like me not that great with birdsong, this is a good time of

:51:36.:51:43.

year because, as the trees are bare, I can see more easily what is

:51:43.:51:52.

producing the song. And also of the migrants have arrived so what we're

:51:52.:52:02.
:52:02.:52:03.

here in other resident birds. So it is a good time to start.

:52:03.:52:09.

As it gets lighter the dawn chorus subsides. Like us, the birds are

:52:09.:52:16.

getting hungry. So we now listening to what might feathered friends are

:52:16.:52:26.
:52:26.:52:28.

chatting about. Listen to this.

:52:28.:52:34.

You're instantly engaged in that world. The microphone is in a place

:52:34.:52:38.

where we would never be because we would affect their behaviour. You

:52:39.:52:44.

can hear the power of those wings. That massive leap in Hanson's the

:52:44.:52:52.

whole thing. These birds are constantly communicating. What

:52:52.:52:57.

we're hearing now is not a song but contact calls. And of course now

:52:57.:53:04.

they're not territorial. They have had to come to a temporary truce

:53:04.:53:14.

because they're sharing this food supply. The great thing is that

:53:14.:53:23.

these sounds are happening all the time. You can appreciate now the

:53:23.:53:32.

mount of vocalisation. I'm so glad, this is where I do the washing up

:53:32.:53:40.

every morning. You can just watch them. But now all I can hear them

:53:40.:53:50.
:53:50.:53:56.

as well. Do you mind if I keep this?! I will hire it out!

:53:56.:54:01.

They're eating the out of house and Home! They clear that entire

:54:01.:54:05.

feature every single day. And it is because you're doing something

:54:05.:54:09.

right. You're clearly putting out a lot of really good food. And that

:54:09.:54:17.

is quite an important thing at this time of year. The birds want to get

:54:17.:54:21.

as fit and healthy as possible before the breeding season. So

:54:21.:54:28.

putting out a good range of foods, I'm putting out meal worms now.

:54:28.:54:33.

Peanuts, sunflower seeds, that type of thing, is really going to be

:54:33.:54:37.

doing your birds of favour. And another thing on these cold and

:54:37.:54:44.

frosty mornings is to make sure that they have fresh water.

:54:44.:54:54.
:54:54.:54:55.

One other thing we have noticed, the first signs of breeding. We

:54:55.:55:00.

know just one little blue tit flying around the Land Rover and

:55:00.:55:07.

especially at the mirrors. What is going on? It is just vanity! No, I

:55:07.:55:13.

have seen this in other birds. Often individual males become

:55:13.:55:16.

preoccupied with their own reflection because they believe it

:55:16.:55:24.

is another male. It is a territorial display. It may be

:55:24.:55:28.

February but this is an amorous month as many of our animals and

:55:28.:55:35.

birds are proving. They're all kinds of ways to rule

:55:35.:55:38.

your lover but surely the most elaborate is that of the great

:55:38.:55:44.

crested grebe. In February they dance, if not quite cheek to cheek,

:55:44.:55:54.
:55:54.:55:58.

then the key to beak. This romances and brings the pair together making

:55:58.:56:03.

sure that they are committed parents. Frogs and toads, what they

:56:03.:56:08.

lack in romance they make up for in tenacity. The risk life and limb to

:56:08.:56:14.

return to the pond where they were born. The male frog can hang on in

:56:14.:56:18.

his tight embrace for several days to make sure he is the one to

:56:18.:56:23.

fertilise her eggs. But he has got competition. Looks like this lot

:56:23.:56:31.

are having a ball! Hazel trees are much less picky. For them, love

:56:31.:56:35.

really is in the air. Hazel catkins are actually clusters of male

:56:35.:56:40.

flowers. Their release millions of grains of pollen into the air.

:56:40.:56:44.

These tiny love packages are at the mercy of the wind, ready to be

:56:44.:56:49.

caught by the tufts of the female flowers. The final result is a

:56:50.:56:57.

tasty hazelnut, planted neatly in the soil by a forgetful scroll.

:56:57.:57:02.

Foxes probably count as one of the loudest lovers of the winter. But

:57:02.:57:06.

notes suite serenades when Foxes are courting. The blood curdling

:57:06.:57:10.

howls of the Vixens at night is enough to make the hair on the back

:57:10.:57:15.

of your neck stand up. The vixen is receptive for just three days so

:57:15.:57:19.

there is a frenzy of activity at this time of the year. Matings

:57:19.:57:23.

brief but the pair may be stuck with each other for hours

:57:23.:57:27.

afterwards because their genitals locked together. This strategy

:57:27.:57:33.

ensures that the dog fox has the best chance of being the daddy!

:57:33.:57:37.

Last leek Hare's take the award for the feisty EST partners of winter.

:57:37.:57:42.

They may be called the Mad March hares but you can see these boxing

:57:42.:57:45.

matches much earlier in the year. You might assume that these

:57:45.:57:49.

fearless fighters are males but actually it is the feisty female,

:57:49.:57:54.

fending off the advances of the male. She's only ready to mate for

:57:54.:57:59.

a few hours every six weeks. So the rest of the time, any male food

:57:59.:58:06.

gets too close will have his years box. That is girl power! All of

:58:06.:58:13.

that goes to show that love is in their hair!

:58:13.:58:17.

Well we hope we have managed to convince you that winter is

:58:17.:58:25.

Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games are at the Brecon Beacons National Park to reveal how the UK's wildlife is faring this winter. The mild start followed by plummeting temperatures are setting a real challenge. The team find out how plants and animals are managing to survive, and what viewers can do to help.

They also report on a surprising influx of owls, why the ptarmigan could be the UK's toughest bird, and show why winter is actually the best time of year to see some of the country's biggest wildlife spectacles.

Meanwhile, Michaela Strachan reports from a swallow roost in South Africa, where millions of birds have arrived from the UK and beyond to escape the northern winter altogether.


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