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Settle down on your sofa, we are back.
Tonight we've got foxes, we've got water voles,
But that's not all - back by popular demand...
It's going to be phone, Foxy, factual and fabulous. Snuggle up,
it's time for Winterwatch! Good evening. We are going to go
live, straightaway, to the thermal camera out in the field. What you
can see there on the left-hand side is a fox.
In front of it is a woodcock, two of the stars of the series.
Unbelievable. Moments before we came on air, it was walking towards the
woodcock, we thought, is it going to pounce? The woodcock doesn't even
seem aware. The Fox has stopped to have a clean. It's difficult to tell
how far away it is, relative to the woodcock. I know it is difficult to
see now, but we saw the long bill. Look at it now.
If anything happens, we will come straight back. What an exciting
start! Welcome to the reserve in Dorset, it
is Winterwatch 2017. It has been clear in some parts, reining in
others. Down here we have been besieged by fog. This is what it has
been like on the reserve. I rather like this muted atmosphere.
Beautiful, photographic, Impressionist! This is a Monet
moment. A cormorant, caught in a Monet moment. Preening, probably
with the dew on its back. It is a picture of surrender tree. --
serenity. It has been giving people problems, you are not so keen? I
don't know, you like some black and white, I like colour, I am more of a
kingfisher girl. You are dressed like a Kingfisher! We have cameras
all around the reserve. But we also have a camera more local, in the
studio. It is actually up there. That is right by a barn owl box.
There is nothing in it now, as far as we can tell. Look what was there
last night. Two barn owls. They don't seem bothered by us being
there. They seem to know each other very well indeed. A little bit of
barn owl canoodling. It's nearly Valentine's Day! They
are having a little kiss. I think it's romantic. They are probably out
hunting at the moment, so we have a thermal camera where they might be
hunting. Can we go to that? What is happening?
He is still lying down. It might take off, if he gets up.
They do get around. Let's go live to the carcass camera. Nothing there
now, because he is on the other camera. A cast of Foxy characters,
we will show you more of them. The foxes have been active, they have
not only been feeding, they have been doing something else as well.
This is Tyson. We know this character, very dark. He has taken
some meat away from the carcass, he is burying it in the leaves. He goes
back... He gets a nice bit of... That looks like a bit of lung. Takes
it away to a different area. This is Cheetah, another individual. Taking
a whole leg! Seems to take her by surprise. But she is determined, not
going to leave that, it's a really good food resource. Taking it off
again. Half as big as her! This is behaviour that you will see foxes do
in the winter. They actually have quite small stomachs, relative to
Wolves and dogs, about half the size. They can only eat about 10% of
their body weight in one sitting. They have to eat little and often.
When they are full, they take some and save it for later. On a carcass,
that makes perfect sense, they can't eat all of it at once. They take a
little bit and they cache it, not four months like some quarrels, but
for a couple of days later. Sometimes they get quite ambitious.
He has begun to realise he is not going to tear it off, and he cannot
drag the carcass away. He switches behaviour and he is starting to
cover it with leaves. You can see from the Topshop that he has swept
an area of leaves about one square metre. He is attempting to cache the
entire carcass! I like unambitious animal. Perhaps he is biting off
more than he can chew. He continues to go through this behaviour to try
to hide the carcass. As you can see, a fruitless effort. In the end, he
realises that. The foxes haven't only been on the carcass. We have
seen them in other parts of the reserve. We think this one is
Cheetah, the vixen. She's down on the shore. Listen. She is down in
total darkness. That was a fox, barking. Even here the alarm
calling. She was probably on the prowl for any birds that have died
during the course of the day, or seeing if she can catch one
off-guard. Listen to this. They spotted her and she disappears into
the nest. It's a bit like the Blair Fox Project! I suspect there is a
curlew in the corner, just nodding. Very atmospheric. I will be
following the foxy Who's Who throughout the programme. It has
been bitterly cold and very foggy for the last couple of days. On
Sunday it was bitterly cold, but the sun came out. With it, a lot of
insects appeared. Rather to our surprise! Here is a fly. The gorse
is in flower. A honeybee, surprising to see that. A little bit of nectar.
The beautifully named marmalade hover fly. Thank goodness for the
gorse, providing the insects with a little bit of a snack, even in the
depths of winter. We have also seen something else, something rather
curious on Sunday. Here is a quiz, can you tell us what these are and
what they are doing? What are these animals, and what are they up to?
Get in contact on Twitter, on Facebook. We will try to see who
gets it right before the end of the programme. Yesterday I tried to
inspire you all to get about the crack of dawn and enjoy the sunrise.
I'm pleased to say, for a lot of you, it was not foggy and you sent
in some beautiful photographs. Here are some of them. Look at that. When
I opened my curtains this morning, I did not wake up a shot like that. It
appears from these photographs that maybe we were in a microclimate in
Dorset. All over the country! Absolutely stunning. Thanks very
much for sending those in. Beautiful. A bit of colour, I like
that. Let's check on the Fox and Woodcock.
Another fox in the field! They are busy tonight. It is going towards
the Woodcock! Pincer movement! What is going to happen to it? If
anything dramatic happens, we are recording and will show you. Let's
stick with this Fox. It's amazing, I'm not sure I want to see the Fox
get that. We were celebrating them. It is chewing something. We will
keep across this. If it gets more dramatic, we will go straight to it.
Iolo has been to Anglesey, in search of one of his favourite birds, an
enigma, but it gathers there in great numbers.
Look at that! I've been coming to Anglesey since I was about four
years old. The bird I always wanted to see was the Raven. They are big,
bold, black, beautiful. But they are wily, incredibly intelligent. It is
so difficult to get close enough to get a really good luck. But at this
time of year, Anglesey is the perfect place to see them. Ravens
from across the country gather here in their hundreds.
Each afternoon, they are drawn here to feed, play and socialise. But
it's not all about fun. The forest also provides them with a winter
refuge. I visited this roosting site many times. But as Ravens are
particularly elusive birds, there is still so much I want to learn. I've
enlisted the help of Nigel Brown, who has studied the ravens on
Anglesey for the last 20 years. We have an owl before dark, quite a few
birds coming in. This is quite a communal experience, for these
birds. It is probably a highlight of their day. What I love is as they
come, you get the calls. They have something like 30 different calls?
The Romans said 65, maybe they made up a few. It may be more than any
songbird. Wow. It's really starting to liven
up now. Your hearing tock-tock. It wasn't just ravens arriving for
the party. I love the interplay between the
cheeky jackdaws and the solemn raven. It's like being in the middle
of an orchestra. You have the insects as well. Except it is not
orchestrated. It doesn't seem to be. When they are coming to roost, do
they roost individually, do they roost as a group, do we know that?
Earlier research suggested that groups of up to six will occupy one
tree. But we weren't ever able to prove that for sure. At night, you
can't see them. That's why I'm really excited by what we are going
to try tonight. We are going to try to film them after dark, something
that has never been done before. Hopefully that will give us a pretty
good idea of how many you have in particular areas within this forest.
With thermal cameras at the ready, all we can do is wait for darkness
to fall and hope the mysteries of the raven roost would then be
revealed. I wish we had had this equipment 20 years ago!
Fantastic. I've been up there, it's magical hearing all of the weird
calls from the ravens. I love their calls, amazing. Can we see what is
going on with the fox and Woodcock? The woodcock has gone. The fox
didn't seem to notice it at all. The woodcock, they have this thing,
emotional Baku -- no centre comes out at all, they tighten their
feathers, and the heart rate can go from four per minute to 60, when
they take off. Apparently I can slow my heart rate to almost nothing. An
Aston Martin drives by and I explode.
Our foxes have been at the carcasses during the night-time but during the
day time we have buzzards. One of the birds has been particularly
pale. This bird is quite unusual in that sense. Pale birds in the
buzzard population are not an enormous rarity, you will find them.
This bird, as you can see is altogether darker. We have a pale
one here, this one is darker. Both the same species. Living in the same
place, at the same time, doing, as you can see, the same job, but
different colours. What about that? Very curious. When I see them, they
are somewhere between both of those. Intermediates. They are a greater
part of the buzzard population. Here on the left hand side you can see
our pale one, in the middle you have the intermediate and on the right
hand side the dark of the buzzard. What's the point of it? Why would
you have a range of different colours in the buzzard. What we know
for sure, the intermediates have a the greatest lifetime reproductive
success. They rear more young during the course of their life than the
pale ones and the dark ones. What is the point of being pale and dark.
Nature needs a reason. It's likely there is a gee netcle linkage with
the colours that would give those animals an opportunity under certain
circumstances. If conditions change you might see an increase in pale
one us because they are present in that population. In southern Sweden
there was an enormous number of pale buzzards. For a a number of time it
was better torque pale that dark. We don't know why it manifested in
buzzards. Amazing. A fox is barking there. We have noticed the colour
difference in sika deer. People have said, have you seen the white stag,
the white Hart, here he. Is doesn't he look striking. He's not albino.
Leucistic makes the pigment they don't get it out to their feathers,
if it's a bird, or fur if it's a deer. They are very striking. In the
old days the they used to hunt the white Hart is you find an innocent
young virgin, she will sit down. The white Hart will come and lay it is
head on her lap. The hunter would grab it. No-one has caught one down
here in Dorset like that for over 200 years. Amazing. I love that. I
Love that. Water voles, increasingly rare animal, of course. Very shy.
Difficult to see. Russell has been out looking for them. He has a
secret place he goes to where he gets intermaite with his water
voles. We are on the chalk stream. I knew it was a special site when I
fist arrived here. A lot of people walk past this place and probably
don't even understand the wildlife that is here. Spend a few minutes,
observe, and it comes to you. My main interest would be the water
vole and it looks a fantastic environment for that. There is good
evidence of the water vole. I have done the laying around by the side
of the pond, going out on to the river, different tactics I thought I
have to go in and join them. The voles are nervous. You have to
be incredibly still, so you are freezing and being, very, very cold
in the water. Just don't move about. As time goes by and you do more days
of it they become more relaxed and then you will get them swimming
past. Sitting right in front of you, you know, chewing away. They are
always here, every single day, some of the special shots, it just
happens that once, you have to be there to catch it.
One of the most satisfying things is, because we have this beautiful
chalk stream, you can see these silver bullets which are the water
voles under the water with the air trapped in their fur. They whizz
underneath you. An amazing experience, it really is. I've had
cold days and I've had some very cold days. My last session here I
think we were minus four. That day I only managed about an
hour-and-a-half sitting in. Generally speaking, a session would
be around about three-and-a-half hours. You get to the numb stage and
then everything goes dead, you for get about it, but it does become
quite painful after a while. The life of the water vole is very
short. Most of them don't get through into a second year. So a
huge steep learning curve. On first coming to the site really
was this idea that possibly, possibly we'd got water voles that
were climbing trees. The evidence on the tree I think most people put it
down to squirrels. I think it was worth spending some time and then
they started to climb. They were going up along the branches. I think
there was probably six inches above the water. I thought, that is quite
interesting, maybe not so steady on their feet. To my amazement they
kept climbing and climbing and climbing.
I don't know what the different was between the bark at the bottom and
the top, they just liked to go higher.
They were actually eating it. Winter time for water voles is very, very
hard. It's interesting to find these behaviours, to work out what is
driving them to do it. Is it a food source, a shortage of something or
something they have A just found that they like? -- they've just.
What a top bloke. I love a determined naturalist. He looked
frozen trying to get that shot sitting in the water. Is it unusual
to see a water vole eating bark? This time of year they have to eat
80% of their body weight a day. They will take advantage of any
vegetation that they can get. Difficult to see though because,
let's face, it they are in massive decline. Difficult to see a water
vole anyway. Also what is very difficult to see is a woodcock in a
field in the dark. We've been very excited tonight because not only
have we seen live on our thermal camera a woodcock, we have seen
foxes behind it. This is what we saw seconds ago. Have a look. This is
the woodcock, very difficult to see these birds. Here it comes.
Returning back to the field where the fox was sitting, relaxing and
grooming. Probably didn't even realise that the woodcock was right
in front of it. There it is. This is a bird that we featured just a
couple of days ago with Martin. It's fantastic. Let's see if that bird is
still there now? There he is. You can see the spec there. This is the
field that Martin caught the woodcock in. We are looking for the
fox. Some way away. Quite a long way away. The woodcocks come from
another part of Europe back to the same area. Each night they will go
to the same field. It's likely that woodcock has been visiting this
field. It could be the one that Martin caught, you don't know. At
the moment it's avoiding those foxes. Last night we started an
experiment looking at bird food choice. An experiment you could
conduct in your own garden. If we look at our control, if you like.
This is how we set it up initially. The feeders are the same. . The
first thing we wanted to look at is how the birds behaved. What we
noticed is that the tit speedies seemed to choose the feeders on the
outside, not the centre one. When they arrive they take one of those
sunflower hearts and fly off with it back to the security of the hedgerow
to eat it. Gold finches, on the other hand, behave differently.
They choose the central feeder, they arrive in numbers. They stick there.
Each one taking a seed, having a I believe inle whilst the others look
out. I think that's what this difference is all about. These are
flock feeding birds. Safety in numbers, more eyes, so they don't
have to retreat to the hedgerow. Robbins come in and get the scraps.
Also do great spotted woodpecker. They are picking things up
underneath. They are more forceful. When they hop onto the feeder itself
they will drive off all the other birds. No-one wants a severe peck in
the back of the head from one of these guys. That was the experiment
we set up. The birds are using it in different way, which correlate to
the behaviour that they would display if they were feeding on
natural things. Gold finches feeding on thistle heads, lots of eyes
sitting in one place. Tits go back to the security of the hedgerow.
It's been mesmerising watching those birds against the black. You can see
the colours. Colour is what our experiment is about. We want to find
out how colour affects that feeding behaviour and what colour they
prefer. These are our three feeders. Normal colour. We coloured two of
them, one blue, one red. We painted the frame with nontoxic paint and we
dyed the seeds. We will give you the result of that experiment tomorrow.
All I can say is, they are both surprising and interesting and
emphatic as well. We are trying to explain how animals get through the
winter. There were several obvious strategies, migration, animals who
move away. Animals which roost in places to stay warm. Some animals
have to get through the winter by hibernating. Gillan has been out to
find an animal that gets through the winter by hunkering in a bunker.
In the summer, this area of Studland in Dorset is buzzing with all sorts
of insects and particularly butterflies Flitting from flower to
flower foraging for nectar, but this is winter and where have they all
gone? Some, like the painted lady, migrate
to sunnier climes. In other species, the adults die off. Leaving eggs,
caterpillars to tough it out and emerge as adults in the spring. A
few surprisingly Hardy butterflies manage to stay here throughout
evening the harshest winter. This is a pillbox. Hundreds of these were
built along the coastline to house guns and defend these shores against
attack during the Second World War, but now it houses a completely
different occupant. There they are. These are peacock
butterflies. It's really quite easy to overlook special it is to see
them like this. Before there were man-made structures, like sheds,
they would have spent the winter in a hollowed out log, so to be able to
walk into a place like this and see them in this state is quite special.
They are so still. There are more and here.
This is not hibernation as we know it. Mammals that hibernate, they
wind down them metabolism to a point where it is barely ticking over,
like a car engine, idling. But as it does, there is still wear and tear.
Insects do something completely different, they actually switch the
engine of. They hold all developmental processes until they
don't age at all. But they have a really neat trick up their sleeve.
Just like your car engine, they are sat with the engine off, but the
ignition is still on. So if they are disturbed by a predator, a mouse or
a bird, they flash their wings open to reveal the high eye spots that
start for their attacker and scare them away. They have enough fat
reserves to get them through the winter. In a few months' time, they
will wake up, leave this pillbox and head out to mate and start the new
generation. The pillboxes have done their job to help us, now they are
doing the same for butterflies. Fascinating film. You would be
really lucky to see a butterfly flying around now. But if you go out
and about, even in the depths of winter, you might see a moth. So how
can they fly in the icy cold of winter? We are going to find out,
because we have Gillian here. You are passionate about insects? Yes.
What have we got here? We try to attract some of the winter flying
moths. There are a handful of species that are still active. We
have a light trap, a Robinson 's moth trap, pretty much unchanged
since the 1950s. It does what it says on the tin. This one is more
sophisticated, it uses pheromones, the sweet scent of the female.
Before we go on to the winter moths, I wanted to show you another
species, the herald moth. I am going to put it over here so we can get a
closer look. It's gorgeous! Beautiful.
When you get nice and close, tight shots, before I get into the science
bit, you can really appreciate what a beautiful moth it is. It's like a
rich tapestry. This moth isn't really active at this time of year,
it is just like the peacock butterflies we saw. Hibernating?
Yes. It emerges quite early in the spring. To do that, it has to get
flight muscles up to temperature. It does that by vibrating the wings. As
you can see, a really nice shot of that. As it vibrates, it is slowly
raising its temperature. Like massively exercising? Yes, do loads
of presents and get warm. We saw it warming itself up. When you go to
the thermal cameras, it is absolutely amazing. You can see the
body getting warm. Not the wings, it is actually the thorax, right there,
started to start glowing white hot. They can raise their temperature 40
degrees. That was five minutes of warming up condensed into seconds,
but it started to massively glow. I've seen this, back in Springwatch,
we filmed owls hunting moths at night. You can see them, like bits
of fire, whizzing about. The owl has seen it, will it get it? What
fascinates me is that you can see so clearly only thermal camera how hot
the moths are as they fly around. As you say, is it going to get it? Got
it in flight. Absolutely fascinating. That is what moths do
to warm themselves up. But that isn't a winter flying moth. What do
the ones doing the winter? In my other pocket, I've got this. Here we
have a male winter moth. I know it doesn't look like much... I like it,
I have seen them at home. If we can get the lid off... He is starting to
flatter his wings. It is quite a cold night, but it is active.
Perfect example. It can't be far from freezing, and he is still...
How on earth is he going to do that? He is not warmed up? No, but what
you get is a lovely view, quite a small body. These moths belong to a
family which have small bodies. Relative to that, really large
wings. That means they are really energy-efficient with flying. They
have done away with the digestive tract altogether. As adults, they
don't need to feed. All they do is fly, they are single minded in their
purpose to find a mate. These traits make them really suited to flying in
cold temperatures. If we see them side-by-side... The herald moth is
on the winter moth is on the left. The winter moth has a John -- chunky
body. The wings of the winter moth, it is so efficient, it only needs to
beat its wings four times a second, with the herald moth it is 60 times
a second. It has adapted perfectly to flying around in the winter. Why?
What is so good about being out when it is bitterly cold? The air space
is empty. It is safe. There are no bats, they are hibernating. Even the
spiders, there are few of them around. It's a great time of year
for some moths to make the most of that. I am loving the male winter
moth, but even more, I like the female one that I have got. She is
right on the side. If I hold that, can you see that?
You might notice something about that female. As she got any wings?
They actually have vestigial wings. That is the remains of them. All she
has is a fat body, but no wings. She is completely flightless. The
question arises, how does the male possibly find a flightless female?
It's a really good example of how these winter moths have to make the
tough choices. It is a trade-off. The females lose their wings. That
is because flying is a costly business, but so is making eggs. The
females have left the business of flying to the males. They just get
onto making eggs. How they find them is beautifully simple. They
basically make their way up the tree trunk, the females, they make their
way up to the tree trunks, they get themselves into a good position,
they stay put and broadcast their position by sending out pheromones.
Pheromones? Which are? Smelly sex gas. Fantastic! A brilliant bit of
biology. I have seen the males, I have never seen the females. Have
you seen a female winter moth? I have seen them, not very often. I
had to be shown them by somebody that was another moth expert. The
best place to find them is apparently an apple trees. There is
one animal we are seeing a lot of on the live cameras. It is the family
of resident foxes. There has been a lot of live action, an all-star
cast. Let's remind ourselves of the leading characters.
We should rename them, Mr Stumpy, Mr Cheetah! I hope it just doesn't end
up stuck in the middle with one of them, that scene... In Reservoir
dogs, there were six characters, we have only shown you four. We have
two more to show you. They have a co-star role. Look at this one. This
is a new character, not seen before. Look at the face. You can tell the
markings on the face. You can see this one has a moustache. We are
calling this one Tash, a dainty female... With a moustache! This is
a male, but look at the eyes. The male is blind. They are calling this
one Pugh. We now have a cast of six. That is not surprising, foxes live
in social groups, typically with a dominant male and female, and a
supporting cast of family members from previous letters. We have seen
quite a bit of social interaction, interesting stuff. On the right-hand
side, we have Stumpy. He is whining, there is clearly another fox coming.
His ears go down. This is Cheetah coming in sideways, showing her
flank, and then it kicks off. They stand on their back legs, lock their
forelegs. This is called fox trotting. Now he sounds a bit like a
cub, begging for food. It is very clear that Cheetah is the dominant
fox. She offers her rump. He isn't mounting. He is still subservient.
He is making that clicking sound, geckoing, typical fox conflicts. All
of that whining, as well. And this time of year, there are probably
more fox fights and scraps like this than any other time of year.
Firstly, a shortage of food, although not in this image. Then
they are breeding and dispersing at the same time. She has come in, she
has pushed an animal further down the pecking order away, and now she
is helping herself to some of the food. He has been forced to wait his
turn. Because this is not an all-out scrap, he is remaining in
attendance, that pretty much guarantees that these animals are
from the same social group. We have a more dominant female, Cheetah, in
the picture, and a less dominant male, behaving and sounding like a
cub. Maybe he is one of her cubs from last year. Eventually, she lets
him go to the carcass. Again, it might be a relic to behaviour,
because there is an affinity between them and she might see him as one of
her cubs from the previous season. If he could leave with his tail
between his legs, he would. But he can't, because he hasn't really got
a tail. It's amazing to see and hear that natural behaviour. Like any
good plot, the storyline is complex and unpredictable. One minute you
are feeling sorry for Stumpy, and then the tables turn. Look at this.
This is one of the other characters. This is Rogue, eating at the moment.
Rogue is not that confident, a little bit nervous. She can hear
something. She can probably smell something as well. She sits down.
This is not dominant behaviour at all. She trots off with her tail
down, and then the tail goes between the legs. If you look at the back,
you can see another fox is approaching. Which fox is this?
Well, surprisingly, this is Stumpy. You can hear the noise, listen to
the noise. Stumpy comes in, looking very confident. When you have seen
what just happened previously, that might surprise you. Rogue comes
behind, the tail is still very much down. Very much the subordinate fox.
Stumpy has a nice feed. It's complex social interaction,
isn't it, Chris? It is. We have seen a large female, Cheetah, dominating
that smaller male, which could be one of her cubs. That smaller male
dominating another one of the smaller females. Perhaps that was a
litter mate of his, a female from the same litter. We will discuss
this more tomorrow. Aside from the behaviour, there is a lot of noise,
isn't there? Listen to this. Now this is a fox call that's very
frequent at this time of year. If you've got foxes in your area, I'm
sure you've heard that. That is not fighting. That is the sound of a
Vixen barking. The reason she is, barking is to call males in. Because
at this time of year the males roam throughout female ranges looking for
mates. She's keen to mate with as many males as possible. If a male
comes into the range. If there is a partner she has, she will mate with
another male. When we look at fox litters we frequently find that they
are fathered by several different fathers. That is because she is
calling them in. You will frequently hear that. If you are out in the
woods walking your dog, if one barks alongside you, it can make you It's
a scary jump. Sound. Lots of you have been asking about our spoonbill
camera, loads, at least five people have asked - I'm a great fan. I know
you are. I know you are. We brought it back by demand. Here it is Robo
Spoonbill the Sequel. Robo Spoonbill has not quite delivered the goods.
Here it has not quite delivered the goods.
Here it is. Let's pick it up. Hello, Robo Spoonbill. For some strange
reason the spoonbills didn't like it. We are not sure why. Many birds
will come straight in to even a really bad Dee coy. Is a brilliant
decoy. They didn't like it for some reason. They stayed away. We are not
worried. When we took Robo Spoonbill away the other spoonbills came
straight in. It hasn't bothered them. I'm afraid, nice try, but,
whoops, no cigar. Of course, spoonbills are fabulous. We have
been out there filming them. We have lovely behaviour. Here they are
coming in. They became extinct in the UK in the 17th Century, they
were hunting to extinction. In 1999, after a gap of 350 years they first
bred successfully. There is that remarkable bill. Tricky to preen
themselves with it. By the way, look at that marking on the leg, that
ring. That shows that bird is from the Netherlands. We think the
majority of these birds, we think there are 23 right now, down in the
harbour, they are all, we think, have come from the Netherlands.
There they are, using those beak ends to feed. If they are very
sensitive. They will snap shut on their prey and feed themselves.
Sometimes even the mighty spoonbill gets it wrong. This one was trying
to eat a flatfish. It's quite difficult to see this in the mist.
See it there. The flatfish is frankly too big for that spoonbill.
That isn't adopted for fish suppers if they are flatfish. It would never
get it down its throat, even if it could. It can't break it up. Another
bird perhaps might have a better luck. The shape of that bill will
never, ever do it. What other bird might have a go at that flatfish? A
black backed gull. Here it came in. It's got a much more dagger-like
bill. It could maybe puncture that flatfish. I think it's the same
flatfish. The spoonbill is still there. Can he get inside a flatfish?
A difficult shape for a bird to eat. He has to try and plunge that bill
inside the fish and, is he going to do it? Yes, he does. Look at that.
He is getting all the plucks, as they say, out from inside. Fantastic
to see the spoonbills. The first one I saw I thought it must have escaped
from an ex-is toic aviary or something. Staggering birds. Water
is essential for all wildlife if you want to encourage wildlife into your
back garden the most effective ways to do that is to build a pond. This
is a Winterwatch SOS. Every month for the next year we will show you
something you can do in your garden that will improve it for wildlife.
To get started, a pond from an old washing up bowl. If it still holds
water, it can hold life. There we are. Where is Conan the
barbarian when you need him. He'd put some pond in. I say, that's
almost a perfect fit! Remarkable. Ideally, in a pond, you want a
sloping side. The quickest way to do that is to use some pebbles. Get it
started by putting some plants in. You can get these at garden centres.
These are aquatic plants, obviously. I will leave them in their pots for
the time being. Even a tiny pond like this one is the most effective
resource to increase the value of your garden to wildlife. There, I've
tickled the fancy of a tadpole and made a newt happy. If you can get a
dragonfly dreaming by making a mini pond of your own we would like to
see it. Send pictures to us Australianed all under the title of
BBC spring watch. Go to it. Save our species. I know there will be cynics
out there thinking a washing up bowl in the lawn, that won't work for
wildlife or anything else. It will. Dragonflies will come to it. Your
kids could be fascinating by what lives in it. I had one of those when
I was a kid in my garden, I was always sticking my nose in it. .
We will put one of those SOS online for a year. Look on Instagram and
our website to see how to improve the lot for your wildlife in your
back garden. We have a laif badger on the camera. True to form, it's
just disappeared behind the grass. If we crash in, we can see it's
there, sniffing around. It's looking for food. It looks like a female.
OK. Let us go to our thermal camera. Our fox there is on the move, still
roaming around in woodcock field. A little bit of scent marking there.
It's all happening out there tonight. Foxes, badgers, woodcock,
absolutely fantastic. We left you Iolo Williams was on Anglesey and
was waiting to see the ravens come to roost. What would happen next.
Let's find out. As night falls we sneak into the forest to get into
the thick of the action. . Isn't it fantastic. We've come in under the
canopy. We have the sea in the distance and we have ravens and
jackdaws. Surround sound. It's fabulous. What is brilliant is being
able to look now and, hopefully, find some ravens. But strangely, as
we look around, the forest seems to be empty. We can still hear them,
it's almost as if they've disappeared. But then we spot
something in the canopy. Look at that, look at that. Wow! I can see
the shape of the bird. You can see the outline. Yes. Oh, wow. That's a
special moment. First time in my whole life I've had the advantage
over a raven. I can see it and it can't see me. Look at the size of
that. Look at that. Exaggerated in this peculiar light. How fabulous is
that. One of the best views of a raven I've ever had, in pitch black!
We are scanning. No ravens here. Surprising. We are in the place
where we saw a number go in, we heard them calling at dusk. I know.
I came in, I would have put my mortgage on the fact that we would
have found a patch. We would have been picking out ravens left right
and centre. We are struggling, aren't we? Try the tops of these new
trees here. That's it. There we go. That's good. Oh, look at that. That
has got to be a pair, isn't it? I'm thinking that, yes. That's the
closest we've seen any two birds, isn't it? It rather confirms my view
about things at the moment, that we are seeing a lot of paired birds
coming to the roost that presumably haven't yet managed to secure a
territory. That suggests maybe they will find around here. It's
surprising to find the birds are so spaced out in the forest. As we scan
the tree os we spot a grand total of five birds in adjacent trees. That
is interesting. They are occupying a strategic position. On the edge of
the forest overlooking that clearing. It's the spot where birds
are often very vocal, sometimes launch themselves from there into an
aerial display. It's a place where... Which we associate with
communicating. Would these be more experienced birds then? Could well
be, yes. This is the biggest concentration we've seen, isn't it?
Yes. Are you surprised by the fact you haven't come across higher
concentrations? I'm amazed. It's so diluted I wouldn't have expected
this. We saw several hundreds going in. We are only seeing singles and a
few pairs of birds actually in the trees. It means they must have
dispersed into the full extent of the woodland here. They must be
scattered over a very wide area? They must. That I wasn't expecting.
It's been a fascinating nights. Nigel's previous research had
indicated that up to six ravens would roost together communally in a
single tree and that concentrations of birds would occur together in the
forest. But tonight that's not what we found at all. Instead, the birds
we watched enter the roost at dusk seemed to have vanished before our
very eyes. I feel tonight as if I've opened a door, just a tiny little
bit and looked into the magical world of the raven, but I've
realised there's so much more to learn. I'm surprised by that. They
are packed closely together. The study of raven it's the same. An
unusual case. Always room for more research to find out more about our
wildlife. Earlier on in the programme, at the beginning, we
showed you some interesting footage of a natural phenomenon going on.
Here it is. We asked you what are these? What was going on? Now, Clive
Kays the animals are midges they are parting like it's 1999. Nearly,
Clive. Glenn and Ellie said, they are winter gnats. A courtship dance.
All those males, they are all males, they go together in big clouds like
that attract the females in. The females get mate and go away. A
winter phenomenon. It's been about the live-action. Did the woodcock
make it through the show or did it get eaten by the fox. Let's look at
our live thermal camera. It made it. It was not woodcock for supper. How
marvellous. It's been a great show am we will keep our live cameras
going. Who know what is we will get tomorrow. Hopefully the barn owls
will be back in the barn doing moving and shaking. We have a 14
million-year-old love story going on in a cellar. We were looking at
water voles today, tomorrow it's another mammal in crisis. The
hedgehog in rapid decline in the UK. We will see how they are getting a
helping hand from humans. Gillan has been to investigate. What a show. I
was hoping the fox would close in on the woodcock and take it - but then
again that's just me. See you tomorrow night, 8.00pm, BBC Two.