Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan are live from the studio at RSPB Arne with the latest news from the ongoing stories on the reserve.
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We are here in deepest foggiest Dorset at a crucial time of year for
wildlife. It's cold, the ground is frozen and food is scarce. In
winter, every day can be a struggle for our wildlife. No matter what its
size, from small garden birds, like blue tits, to large impressive
mammals like sika deer, it's a fight for survival.
The greatest challenge for some of our wildlife is to simply survive
the icy cold of a single night. It may be chilly out here but it's a
warm welcome from Winterwatch. Hello! Welcome to Winterwatch 2017.
Our second programme coming from the wonderful RSPB Anne reserve on the
west side of Poole harbour here in Dorset. It's a fantastic place for
wildlife, not just in spring and summer but winter too. A great
biodiversity with great rarities. There is a NSPCCsy found in three
other places on the entire planet. I did know that. -- species. How did
you know that? I read my notes! I want to make a film about that but
everyone says it's not moving around our mission is to look at all the
British wildlife across the country and explain how it gets through this
very hard and harsh season. As usual, we have the reserve bugged
with live cameras hoping to bring you any live action as it happens.
Let's have a look at one of those cameras now.
It's the pond camera. This is a pretty pond in the woods, lots of
animals come down here to drink. There is nothing there at the
moment. Let's see what we have had. We have had a badger, great to see,
but it's not just the camera we have got down there, we also have a Mike
rephone so we can listen. -- microphone.
You can hear it slurping. What badgers do is they actually sort of
scoop a bit of water up into the tip of their tongue and flick it to the
back and swallow. It's a lick, flick, swallow and that's what you
are hearing there. It's quite a satisfying sound. It is.
Nothing like hearing a mammal like that, it has been in the ground all
day, it has snuck to the pond with all that water and it's sucking it
up. Fantastic. Our cameras have been throughout the day. Today has been
problematic. It's been tremendously foggy down here.
All day long and the fog never lifted.
It's been a real pain for lots of people across the country,
cancellations of flights, difficulties travelling on the
roads, but I have to say, it's added quite a romantic air to Arne. And
this Wren out there in the mist and fog and this lovely. We have had fog
for a couple of mornings. We have been here for at least a week and
our teams have been out and filmed some absolutely glorious dawns.
Absolutely beautiful. I know you like a bit of black and white,
moody, misty. But I am more showy and like colour, that was gorgeous.
Why don't you get out and see a sunrise because in winter is a
perfect time, because you don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to
see the dawn! Because it is later in winter. It's cracking later, you
still have to get up at the crack of dawn, it is just later. You know
what I mean, it's 7. 57 tomorrow, so that's a decent time to get out and
about. We want you to witness it and take your cameras and as long as
it's not foggy take a picture of the beautiful sunrise and send it to us
using the hashtag Winterwatch. A few people have already been out. We
found this fantastic photograph taken by Paul Silvers in Somerset.
This is a -- murmuration of starlings leaving in the morning. A
great picture F you get more please send them in.
If you are watching last night, mayor tin sent himself a tricky
challenge, to catch a woodcock in the fielding here. They pulled it
off, what a thing, it successfully flew away. Tonight he is down here
about 300 metres away in the car park seeing if he can find birds in
total darkness. Not quite total darkness, Chris, we
have a few lights around, but yes you are right I am here in the RSPB
Arne car park. Now it's very quiet, there is nobody
here, apart from the film crew and me.
During the day, of course, it's a very different story.
This is a very busy place. Lots of people powering in. It's also packed
with garden birds because they've lots of feeders here in the car park
and it's a wonderful spectacle. They're incredibly busy. With all
the birds that you would expect to see in your garden.
Lovely blue tit. But it's not just the more common birds, down here in
this very car park there's one of Britain's rarest birds, it's a tiny
little bird called a firecrest. Let's have a look at one.
This is a firecrest, that gorgeous flaming crest on its head that gives
it its name. It is much, much rarer than its
cousin, the goldcrest, which is more common.
As you can see, they look remarkably similar.
We have got a little ID now. This is the Winterwatch identification
guide. Let's see how you tell the difference.
You can see the firecrest has a white line above its eye. If you
look down at the wing on the firecrest it is much clearer defined
there, that golden yellow colour. Now you have all the tools to
identify the firecrest and the goldcrest, now I will give you a
test. What is this? Have you got it? It's a firecrest,
absolutely right. The white stripe and that clearly defined edge there
around the back of the head. What is this next one?
Isn't that gorgeous! That, of course, is a goldcrest. They can
flare those feathers on the top of the head and it looks dramatic.
You can't get really an idea of how big the firecrest and goldcrest are
from those pictures. But you can from this.
Now that is the actual size, that's a firecrest. Here is my
Here is my wedding ring. They are tiny.
We have been here in the car park during the day and we have been able
to film them moving around in the trees.
They move very quickly. This is partially slowed down.
You will be able to tell me what this is, of course.
This is a firecrest, luckily! They spend during the day 100% of
their time foraging for food. They have to, to feed, to - there is a
goldcrest now. They can eat almost twice their body weight in a single
day. They move so quickly you often
mistake them for a Wren and then you see that wonderful crest there. You
think, oh, it's a goldcrest or a firecrest!
They're quite hard to see actually, but of you ares you can always
listen out for their song. Well, you can but not everyone can hear their
song. Unfortunately, it's so high pitched some older people find it
difficult to hear. Let us test you now. Can you hear the goldcrest
song? Sad to say I can't! I normally can
at home. But I can't hear it. I think some of you at home will have
heard that. But I didn't, sadly.
OK, now during the daytime they're moving around the car park, all the
little birds are. But of course right now they've gone into the
trees around here and they're roosting. Let's look around with our
thermal calms ras and see if we can see -- cameras and see if we can see
any. Yes, we can! There is two. When you come back in a minute we
are going to try and find out how these tiny little birds, including
the goldcrest and firecrest, actually manage to survive these
freezing temperatures. They've some very clever tricks and physiology
that enable them to try and do that. Meanwhile, back to you.
Thanks, Martin. Did you? Did I what? Did you hear it? I did, yeah. You
did not! I promise you I heard it. I am young and my hearing is very
good. Did you? Oh, yes! Of course! I didn't hear it actually, very sadly.
Something, it's one thing to tell them apart in the daytime, no chance
at night. Let's be honest. Let's look at some of our other live
cameras. We have carcasses across the reserve and we have had a lot of
action. Let's see if there is anything on that camera right now.
Nothing now, but we have had a lot of foxes visit the car raps. We know
that we have got four different foxes We can tell them apart. A
couple of them it's easy. Take a look at this.
Watch the fox in front. You will soon notice that it is easy
o to spot. Look at the tail. It is stumpy compared to the one behind
which is very thick and bushy. That fox we are calling Stumpy. OK. Easy
one. This one is also easy, it's the one we showed you last night. This
is a male fox. It is an extraordinary colour. Look at its
face, it has a scar on its face. It is a very dark fox. Easy to
recognise and because of that scar and the fact that it is very stocky
we are calling that one Tyson. So far we have Stumpy and Tyson. They
are very easy. Take a look at this one. This is a more traditional fox.
It looks silvery on its back. It has a very, very distinctive mark
on its face. I have been talking to our expert Dr Dawn Scott at the
University of Brighton and she recently told me how to identify
these foxes and I will pass it on to you. Let's look at that one again.
That one with the black tier. You can see it there on the right of the
screen. We are calling this one Cheetah because it has that
distinctive stripe running down from the eye to the mouth like the
African mammal the cheetah. The one on the other side is less distinct,
it's more smudgy. I have got a drawing which I have prepared here.
You can equally do one of these sort of sketches yourself, if you are
watching the foxes on your patio. Here is Cheetah and as you can see,
it has this thick stripe that runs down here on to the jaw.
The other animal has a stripe which starts much further down and it
comes down like this. It widens out to at the bottom and
comes up here and is indistinct, I would say. This one is pale there.
Only this bottom part is there any thickness. For various reasons the
people who watch these foxes throughout the day have decided to
call this one Rogue... Oh, no, I spelled it wrong! I have messed it
up. That looks good. No one would know. That's going to hurt me. You
can be doing this and I have to say it's a clear way of identifying
those foxes. The benefit for us is that we can do it in daylight and at
night in infrared too. We have a good food resource with the car raps
-- carcass. Happens if more than one arrives at the same time. Have a
look. This fox has been chewing at that for sometime. We think that is
Rogue by the fact it hasn't a lot of facial markings. The one behind
comes in. We think this is Cheetah. They're both females. There is a lot
of posturing going on. Remember it's dark. I think they probably know
each other, don't they, Chris? They do. If these were foxes from
different social groups there would be more antagonism here. In each
group of animals living together in the same range there is a hierarchy.
What we are seeing here is these two animals displaying that hierarchy,
sorting out who is top fox. That is not really a fight, is it?
No. That is Cheetah pushing Rogue of the carcass. These animals are a
couple of females. That was a spat over the food. Great to be able to
watch those foxes but what Arne is really well-known for and that is
its bird. One bird that people come to see is rare. Because of the
microclimate it does pretty well. I went out with an RSPB warden to see
if I could spot it. A stunning morning, isn't it? A gorgeous
morning. So, what we're doing this morning is looking for what is
really the star bird of Arne. It is the species that triggered the RSPB
to get interested. Back then it was incredibly rare. Only a dozen pairs
in the country. Now we have 70 pairs nesting here at RSPB Arne. So, our
chances of seeing one are pretty high. Listen out here. Can you hear
that sound? Yes, I can hear that. It is about the size of a Wren, really
small with a really long tail. Study -- stubbly weans as well. Tiny wings
whirring away. There we go. Look at that! Gorgeous. That is the bird we
are looking for. Dartford warbler. That is the one. You can see the
long tail. I assumed he would be on top of the gorse bush for longer.
Sometimes they do. There are two now. They are starting to get each
other aggravated. That is quite distinctive. There is a small bit of
gorse in front of us. The reason that Dartford warblers thrive here
is this lowland heath is protected from the elements by Poole Harbour.
The RSPB manage the area. Copper zinc and keeping the gorse low and
bushy, the ideal habitat for the Dartford warbler. It is like a cosy
hotel room with a birthday breakfast. This is really spiky. --
buffet breakfast. The temperature is kept up two, three degrees inside.
Why are they susceptible to the cold? Spain is a great place to see
the Dartford warblers. They are very small and do not weigh an awful lot.
I am talking seven, eight, nine grams. They are really small.
Insects are not numerous in winter and it does get really cold. It is
easy to see why this gorse bush is so good at protecting them but not
so easy to see the food inside. I have a trick up my sleeve, which
hopefully will bring some of the food out and we can prove why this
is such a good Dartford warbler buffet. I have a chilling for. The
vibrations should bring it out. The tuning fork did not work, did it?
That is a bit old-fashioned. Who has one of those lying around anyway? I
have something far more high-tech. This is the latest version of the
tuning fork. It is a pink, sonic toothbrush. 20,000 vibrations a
minute, apparently. If we put that into the spider's Web, it should
replicate the vibrations of the fly. Look at the spider come rushing out!
He suggested this stupid thing? I reckon this one will work much
better. We have seen a view insects on that one. He is coming out. He is
coming out. Look at that! Oh, my goodness! He has come to attack my
toothbrush. Here he is, attacking. That was fantastic. You did not
think that would work, did you? I honestly did not think that would
work. That was a chunky spider. Showing off my spider knowledge, I
can name it. We have seen a Dartford warbler. Let's remember it is a rare
bird to see and we can charm the spider. All you need to see wildlife
with is a pair of binoculars and a sonic toothbrush. Perfect. What a
great use of the toothbrush! Every naturalist should have won. Great to
see the spider and great to see how the gorse is managed. If they did
not manage it, it would grow long and stringy and be almost like a
wind tunnel and provides no protection. That makes it thick,
bushy and like any glue. A lot of people ask, why don't they migrate?
-- an igloo. The Dartford warbler is a tiny bird with a long tail. It has
short, stubby wings. It is not a great flyer. It is not hard-wired
for long migrations. It can do short migrations were usually it is very
loyal to its breeding site. We have a question here from Henry Barnard,
a range from Surrey. He says he saw a Dartford warbler on his site. It
was not there in the summer. Could it have moved to an even more frozen
heath? They do disburse. They are stubborn but not completely stupid.
If times are tough where they are, they will choose a different
location. They are fantastic birds. I like the Dartford warbler. Not in
my top ten. They have a quiz with a tail flopping around. The tale is
very long. On top of the gorse bush and get a wind up their tail and
they topple over like a teapot. In the world of wildlife television, it
is fickle. One minute you are celebrating an animal and the next
minute it is sliding down the charts. Look at the sika deer! We
were focusing on their rutting behaviour and this time we have
hardly mentioned them. Champions one minute and in desperate, dire
straits the next. Let's see what they are up to this time of year.
The rat is over. They join up in groups and generally males with
males and females with females. The males have stopped rutting. They
appear to be rutting but they are not. There is no better minutes and
no purpose. The females are all pregnant at this time of year. They
have multiple through to their winter coats. They do not have any
spots. They are moving around in these loose, social groups. You will
see one with one group of animals one day and the next day it is with
another group of animals. There is a constant tooling and froing of the
groups, normally five, six .7 or eight animals. With other species
you will get larger herds. Sometimes 60 of them there. Very different
behaviour. They are still stars from me. They are the Chelsea of the
football world, still up there at the top of the league. The Chelsea.
Not paid as much of most of your Chelsea team. Perhaps if they were,
they would still be ratting. We love it on Winterwatch when you send us
amazing footage of wildlife spectacles you have seen. Let's face
it, sometimes seeing amazing wildlife spectacles means you have
to be in the right place at the right time. Palin Gray was in the
right place at the right time, on his dad's boat and he managed to
film this. He managed to get this humpback whale using a drone. He saw
it off the Shetlands. This is amazing to see, obviously. Is it
unusual? You are lucky to see but they do a big migration. They
migrate from South Africa, the Caribbean, to higher latitudes. They
will be going past the UK at some point. This is incredible to see. It
looks like it is a mother with a calf, which is slightly unusual at
this time of year. Fantastic to see. Thank you for sending it in. We have
been speaking to the sea watch foundation who say there is a small
breeding population of the Cape Verde Islands. The mother could have
given birth and come back to the northern waters. We think they are
taking advantage of an increase in the number of mackerel and herring
because we have relaxed the fishing quotas. The Wales are coming back
and this has been a bumper year for humpback sightings. The greatest
year ever, between 50 and 60. Some of the Wales could have been seen
multiple times but the significant increase. Since 1982 when the
International whaling commission stop whaling in the North Atlantic,
the population has begun to grow. That is a reassuring thing. There
are some problems. In a recent paper in 2016, one of the problems with
western Scotland is it can be a mortality sink for these Wales. They
get into the area and die because they become entangled with lines
attached to lobster and crab pots. A fantastic opportunity for someone to
go into Dragons Den. Surely we can invent a does not entangle the
Wales. Paul Smith from British Divers Marine Life Rescue Centre
??Nospace 'S Case Was Out Looking For These Wales Cleared To Make Sure
They Were Not Being Entangled. Another sign they are increasing. If
you manage to get any footage or take a picture of Wales or any
amazing spectacle, we would love to see it. Please share it on social
media. There are plenty of ways you can get involved. It has never been
easier to follow Winterwatch. Ever you are and whatever device you are
using. By going to the website you can enjoy the Winterwatch live page
throughout the week. Get exclusive updates on the action as it happens,
plus behind-the-scenes extras and expert analysis. On the red button
and I play is a daily round-up of all the action and a chance to get
your questions answered on Winterwatch wrapped up. This year
our younger fans can find Winterwatch games, quizzes and more
on the CBBC website. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter,
and on our Flikr group. Plenty of ways to get involved. If it is drama
you are after, sometimes you do not have to go very far at all. You can
get a wildlife drama right under your feet. In this particular case,
right above your head. Christmas is over and the decorations are shoved
back up into the loft for another year. They're a thought for what
else might be up there. -- bearer thought. While more we might use it
as storage space, the crowded roof can be a perfect winter home for
some of our natural neighbours. Amongst the discarded toys and piles
of junk, a female house mouse has made herself at home. She is heavily
pregnant. So constantly craves food. Her stomach is swollen and heavy as
her babies wriggle around inside her. This mouse is eating for 15.
The sheer effort of even moving around at this late stage makes her
quite breathless. But there is not time to rest. She must find
somewhere for her nurse before the babies come. -- nest. Every corner
of the attic must be explored to find just the right spot. And that
means she has to take some risks. She squeezes her frozen belly
through tiny gaps. And even have to walk the tightrope. Despite the use
of her balancing tale, clambering in her condition means her balance is
off. A false step but no harm done this time. This mattress could be
just what she is looking for. A warm corner in here will be a safe
spot for her babies. But she needs more than just foam to
make the bedding complete. So, it's back out on her scavenger
hunt. This stack of suitis cases might lead somewhere worthwhile.
Grain from a split wheat pillow will make a handy larder for later.
But our mouse doesn't have the attic all to herself.
The mattress is already occupied. Bed bugs. These parasitic blood
suckers can survive a year without feeding and are drawn to their prey
by sensing body heat. Luckily, she's chosen a nest site at
the other end of the mattress. As she continues her search, her
hypersensitive nose picks up a scent.
The irresistible lure of cheese. She better watch her step!
Saved by a whisker. With a belly full of cheese and
babies, the overwhelming hormonal urge to build her nest is getting
stronger. She finds an old cashmere jumper, the perfect nest liner.
But the soft natural wool has already been colonised by Moth
larvae. Undisturbed in the attic they have spent the winter chewing
their way through the fabric. Blue fibres visible in their digestive
tract. But for this mouse they're nothing more than a handy protein
snack. Gathering scraps for around the loft
the mouse's foraging is paying off and the nest is developing into a
comfortable and soft refuge in which to give birth.
And finally the blind and hairless babies are born. They will stay
utterly dependent upon their mother for nearly three weeks.
Thanks to the safe Oasis of a warm attic, this family are oblivious to
the changing season outside. Their mother has found all that they need
just by scratching around in the attic.
I love those films, absolutely beautiful. Just to remind you I am
down here in the car park at Arne and right now I will be surrounded
by rooting birds, all asleep in the trees around here. We have our
thermal camera and we are looking into the trees. Let's see what we
can see. Let's have a look. What can we see at the moment?
Nothing just at the moment. But just while we were rehearsing with this
camera we did see this. I think that's probably a Robin
there. It is glowing like a little furnace there. We have actually been
down in the car park here filming birds during the night. Let's look
at this. We can see how effective feathers are at keeping those birds
warm. We think this is probably a black bird or a thrush. Look at the
leaves around it glowing. It is radiating heat and the twig around
its feet is also glowing. We think this is a blue tit.
Much smaller. You see the heat. When the head pops out you can see how
much heat it starts to lose. We think that's a Robin. It is losing
heat all the time. You see how important it is for birds to keep
their heads tucked away under their wings and there they start to
conserve that heat. The feathers are crucially
important. When you look at a bird you are only seeing the outer
feathers, but underneath is all this going on. Don't know if you can see
those. These are down feathers. They're so light they are blowing
away on my hand and semiplumes. These are the ones that keep the
birds wonderfully warm like that. As well as the feathers these birds
have a lot of other behavioural strategies to try to keep warm.
Long-tailed tits are fascinating. What they do is they keep all their
members of the family, they snuggle up together and try to keep warm by
huddling. Actually if two birds are together they will reduce the heat
loss by about a quarter. Huddling is a very, very good strategy for very
small birds. The long-tailed tits will huddle outside. How much better
would it be if you huddled inside something? That's what Wrens do.
This amazing footage was sent to us by Anita from Cumbria. These Wrens
are all going into a house Martin's nest to roost. It's difficult to
judge how many there are. We think there are about 15 in the end all
tucked up inside that nest. Extraordinary. Thank you very much,
Anita, for sending us that. You might think 15 is amazing, the
world record for the maximum number of Wrens inside a nest box is 63.
Imagine that. What about something like a blue tit? Do they huddle
together? They don't. They have a different strategy. They sit out on
their own. They don't huddle up. They use shivering. They'll use
muscles to shiver to generate heat and do that all night sometimes.
These feathers, we exploit that same technique in our clothes. We will
use a thermal camera. I am wearing here a down coat.
The camera will look black on the outside. It's insulating me. If I
open it up, how is that? You can see all the heat being
released. If I was a bird I am zipped up inside my down I am
wonderfully warm. Of course let's think about those
goldcrests and firecrests we were talking about earlier, what strategy
do they use? They use all of those strategies, they huddle together and
will go underneath a conifer and will also shiver. Here is one
fantastic fact. A goldcrest, if it gets really cold can lose up to 20%
of its body weight in one night just from trying to keep warm. If I was
to do that I would lose about 16 kilos of my body weight, that's
about two-and-a-half stroen. What does that look like? -- stone. In
fat balls I would lose overnight about that and that.
In a single night. I wish! Back to you.
A new diet plan there! Go to the car park and take your clothes off and
lose weight. If you were a bird would you be a shiverer or a
huddler? I am not a huddler. I am a shiverer, then a huddler. As Martin
was saying at this time of year it's really difficult for our small
garden birds to survive. We often get asked this question, we had it
again last night, how can we help birds in the cold? The simple answer
answer is feed them, a variety of food, fat balls, food fruit, cheese.
If you are feeding those brings you are bringing them close to you so
you can watch them and watch what they want to eat. We thought we
would conduct a relatively simple experiment here. About 150 metres up
there we set this up. We have three bird feeders hanging in frames. It's
been there for about six, seven days. The birds have been coming in,
we have had a great variety. The feeders are very busy. This
means it's a perfect opportunity to see what these birds want when it
comes to choosing their food. What we were interested in is a
simple experiment which you can conduct at home. What is the
experiment? It's all to do with colour. These are our three feeders
looking perfectly normal, natural colour and with a bit of magic you
can see we have painted them. We have painted the frames and we have
coloured the seeds. We have done a natural colour in the middle. Blue
on one side, red on the other. Which one will they go for? What is your
prediction? I have the seeds here. They've the red ones and the blue
ones. We have dyed them I should say with a food dye which is safe for
humans. I will prove that. It's fine! We have dyed them and
dyed them blue and red. My prediction is that they will avoid
the blue. In nature, many - excuse me speaking with my mouth food. In
terms of human foods what blue foods do you eat? Don't say blue berries!
When we tried experiments with humans and offered them blue food we
were repulsed by it, we don't like it. I think the birds will avoid
that because of the toxins inherently in those pigments in the
colour blue. I think they'll go for the red because they always do. We
have seen the waxwings yesterday feeding on red berries, other birds
are drawn to red berries, that's probably one of the reasons they're
red. My prediction is avoid blue. They've already starting eating some
of the seeds. The birds have been coming in and we have been watching
them all day. We are going to see how many birds visit. We are going
to see which species go to which feeder. And of course we will record
how quickly the seed goes down and if they're busy we will tell you
tomorrow. We should be able to give you results tomorrow. Those birds
are very lucky because their diet is supplemented by our marvellous
experiment but a lot of birds have to work harder to get a decent meal.
In fact, some birds have to be tough, agile and have a thirst for
danger. Portland, the southern-most point of
Dorset. It is stretches out into the English
channel, forcing huge currents to smash together at its tip.
The coastline here has borne witness to 1,000 shipwrecks with vessels
falling pray to the treacherous tidal races. -- prey.
Its rugged shoreline and isolated position mean that a few tenacious
species call it home, most steer well clear of the crashing waves and
vicious currents but one winter visitor likes to buck the trend,
choosing instead to flirt with danger and secure exclusive dining
rights, the purple sandpiper, the hardest bird on the bill! A small
number of these unassuming looking birds spend the winter in this exact
spot every year. With one eye always fixed on the next crashing wave, the
sandpipers hug the rocks closest to the menacing sea.
With nerves of steel, they wait until the last possible second
before retreating from the ferocious white water.
Only to return seconds later to do it all over again.
They have an incredible ability to judge when they can simply square up
to a wave or when they need to make a run for it.
They almost seem to have an appetite for peril.
Their lightning reactions and taste for danger are all the sandpipers
have to help them tackle this most extreme of environments.
Their feet might be big but they are no help on the slippery rocks. One
false step with spells certain doom for these plucky little birds.
The constant sea spray smothers the sandpipers and salty water. Whenever
they are not feeding, they preen themselves by coating their feathers
with oil from a special gland by their tail.
By venturing web other waders feared to tread, the sandpipers have a rich
food source all to themselves. They survive and thrive by being quite
simply the toughest bird on the rocks.
What a bird! A tough little bird. I like a tough bird. Fantastic waders.
We have a live wader cam. Let's see what they have at the moment. Looks
like a moonscape. There is a lot of action but we cannot see it at the
moment. Do you hear that? There is something appalling. Could be a
widgeon. Let's move swiftly on. The star wader is this one. It's a
curlew. It is the UK's largest wader. It's very easy to spot
because of its extremely long legs and, of course, it's long curved
bill, which it uses in the winter to probe into the mud for a variety of
food. Why is it hurt? There is no definitive answer but there are lots
of advantages. A curved bill means it can probe ahead of its feet and
has a wider arc and can penetrate further. Look at what it is doing
here! It can actually probe further down than a straight ill could. It
can get under and into things. -- bill. It pulls up a worm. A curved
bill means it can probably pull more worms up without breaking them.
Pretty neat. That is key for it, getting the worm alcohol. To
contrast that with a black tailed godwit. It is foraging much closer
to its feet. When it grabs at prey, it has to pull it directly upwards.
So it cannot feed on things as big as the worm is a curlew is taking,
without the risk of breaking them. Loss of part of a worm is
disastrous. Basically, when the lug worms are in the mud, they are in
like this with their tail at the top and the head at the bottom of their
burrow. If it snaps here, unfortunately, the bird gets the
rotten end of the worm. What it is really after is the head. More than
60% of the nutrients in this worm are in this part above the top of my
finger and thumb. It is essential to get the head. I will demonstrate how
these two bird beats work. I have the black tailed godwit with the
straight bill. What I will show you is, if the black tailed godwit
sticks its built into the ground, when it turns to pull out the worm,
as you can see, it damages the soil, will drag the worm through the mud
and, as a consequence, there is a very good chance that worm will
break and it will not end up with the head. When the curlew puts its
bill into... Penetrates that OAC is, it comes out again and it comes out
pretty cleanly. Look at that! Down it goes. Due to the curved action of
the bill, it can withdraw a much larger prey item at the same time
the godwit would have real problems in getting it out. Britain's largest
wader, the curlew, can feed on those things and that is how it gets
through the winter. What a demonstration! Thanks. A fantastic
job! It is very cold now. Let's look back to the summer when it was
lovely and warm and Martin was out doing some really important work
with Montagu's Harriers. I am at a secret location, the
nesting site of an extremely rare summer visitor. The Montagu's
Harrier. They migrate here from west Africa to raise their young in
arable farmland. With only five pairs nesting in Britain each year,
it is vital to protect them, as well as trying to find out more about
their long journey. Up. Yes. Today I am helping a Dutch research team to
catch and tag a local female, who has a nest and two chicks nearby.
Why these particular birds? They are really elegant. If you see them
flying... They are really liked and have very long wins. They seem to
dance in the sky. Harriers have superb vision. They will not just
fly straight into our net. We need a secret weapon and this is it. A
stuffed honey buzzard. What do you think of it so far? Rubbish.
Montagu's Harriers are very territorial. The female will bravely
defend her chicks, especially against larger raptors like a honey
buzzard. We need to be clever. You will only attack into the wind and
crucially, when the buzzard isn't looking. So, with the stuffed
buzzard facing into the breeze and the net behind it, the trap is set.
She must be full of territorial aggression. It is really close to
the nest site. We retired to the card to wait it out. What happens
when comes in? Jump out and run, so we are quicker. The female returns
from a hand with some food and drops it down to one of the chicks. --
hunt will stop then, she notices our de Cawley. -- de Cawley. She does
not like the honey buzzard. She swoops at the honey buzzard. Perhaps
she is hoping to drive it away. Come on. But she does not hit the net.
Just pulled up. Did you see that? She must have been centimetres away.
Then, on her next pass... She is in. We got her. Well done. She's so
small. When you see her close, she is tiny. Well done! The bird is then
measured. Way over a metre wingspan. Wade and ringed. CP for Chris
Pakenham. The information is vital in building up a profile for the
bird. How old is she? She has round eyes. That means she is rather
young. What colour do they change as they get older? More yellow. This is
the satellite tag. Presumably as to be a very exact weight. This is only
12 grams. Because of this device you will know the exact migration path
this bird will take. If you think about the effort we are doing,
together with the farmers, protecting the nest, if there is a
problem in Africa, it could be we are doing all of those in vain for
that we have learned that northern Africa is quite important for them.
In spring, it seems to be a key site for them to refuel and prepare for
the migration back to the UK. If that area where to disappear, we
could lose the Harriers. Are you giving her a name? Sally. I think
she is nearly ready for release. You are going to release her, Martin. Am
I? What a treat! Three, to, one, zero. There you go, Sally.
Fantastic! What a privilege! It looks quite a big bird but there is
nothing to it. Quite a light weight. Because Sally has that satellite
tracked on her, we can follow her exact journey, her migration. She
went from Norfolk, all the way down here, passing Paris in France, down
through Spain, then she jumped across the med. She clipped the end
of Morocco, all the way through Algeria, through Mali, down here,
the Ivory Coast, and ended up in Ghana. I can tell you that, at seven
o'clock to nine, Sally was there in Ghana. How can I tell you? The RSPB
team gets an e-mail twice a day, 12 o'clock and seven o'clock telling
them where Sally is. At seven o'clock tonight she was right there.
Extraordinary. You can follow sell yourself. On the website there is a
link. With luck, late March, early April, she'll be making her way all
way back to the UK. That is about 5000 kilometres down there. An
extraordinary journey. This is some wonderful news. There were five
Montagu's Harriers nests in the UK which were all successfully hatched
out and 13 chicks fledged. Wonderful news. We have some Harriers
wintering at Arne. There were ten of these Marsh Harriers full stop they
are pretty good news. The numbers slumped write-down and in recent
years they picked up. More than 400 pairs of these birds and ten in
Dorset. The numbers are supplemented from birds in from the continent.
What is interesting, in the past that when I got into birds in the
70s, these were migrating species. They would go down through France
and Iberia, some into sub Saharan Africa. With the changing climate,
many of them are staying in the UK and they are wintering here. They
are changing their habits. Every chance of seeing them here. We asked
you to send in photos of sunrises and you have. Some beautiful
pictures. The sun is leaching through that stag in Richmond. This
is from Minsmere. Sunrise through frost. Then this one from Rich
Smith. Sunrise in HDR, hide dynamic range. That is the Yorkshire waltz.
Thank you for sending them in. Ingrid has just asked, any tips how
to attract Goldcrest into my garden? Plant a conifer. They like conifers.
That is our parting shot for tonight. We'll be back tomorrow and
we'll be taking a look at our foxes. We will try to work out how many
there are and also the social structure of the group we are
watching. What happens to our butterflies and moths in the depths
of winter question how do they survive? Find out tomorrow. More
about this handsome chap. The white, seeker stag, here on Arne. Make a
date for 8pm and enjoyed the dawn. Take a photograph and send it into
us. We might even show it on programme. From us, goodbye. Good
night. MUSIC: The Elements
by Tom Lehrer # There's Attenborough, micro.bit,
The Bottom Line and In Our Time # And Terrific Scientific
and Ten Pieces and All In The Mind # Inside Porton Down, Black And
British, Bitesize, City In The Sky
Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan are live from the studio at RSPB Arne with the latest news from the ongoing stories on the reserve. Martin Hughes-Games is further afield on a mission to understand Britain's wildlife in a deeper fashion, and Iolo Williams brings a report from a raven colony on Anglesey.