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Winterwatch: Share your stories, questions and photos

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Holly Spearing Holly Spearing | 15:04 UK time, Monday, 6 February 2012

Temperatures outside are plummeting but in the office we're warming up for our one-off winter special, Winterwatch.

Winter is a challenging time for wildlife and if you wrap up warm and head outside you'll see it's one of the busiest times of year.

Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games looking through binoculars

Chris and Martin on the lookout at Lymington

It can also be a season of extremes, and this winter has certainly been full of surprises. We were blown away by gales in December, before warming up in a very mild January and, just to keep us on our toes, it looks like we might have a chilly February ahead. But how is our wildlife faring in these unpredictable times?

We'd love to include your anecdotes and questions in the programme. Have you seen anything unusual this barmy season? Or do you have a winter mystery you'd like the team to solve? If you've got an observation or question about our wildlife this winter please post a comment below. And if you've got any wintery wildlife photos please do share them on our Flickr group.

We'll keep you posted about exactly when Winterwatch will be broadcast.

Holly Spearing is the Series Producer of Winterwatch

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Cant wait for the new series, am loving the show as its getting rid of my bird phobia! i now have a small tree outside my window covered in feeders and birds, our garden backs onto the woods, so there is a huge amount of wildlife in our garden, and we're going to install a wildlife pond this summer :) p.s love chris, have had a crush on him for 20yrs, but please bring back Kate Humble!!!! she's an absolute angel and has such a wonderful gentle soul, we love her!!! x x x

  • Comment number 2.

    I found an adult Anthocomus rufus beetle up and about outside on the 28th January - usually this beetle is only adult August-October so it's either 4 months late or 6 months early!

  • Comment number 3.

    An item about 'natural' garden food (not what's on the bird table or in your feeders) for birds you can grow to help them through the winter, highlighting what you can plant shrub/tree-wise in your garden to help them (cotoneaster, rowan etc). As this show's at the end of winter it could be very well-timed, as it will give viewers plenty of time to plan what they're going to plant, buy it and plant it.

    Perhaps a small item on winter -> spring migration, informing us as to early arrivals for summer (Sand Martin, Wheatear etc..) Poor Chris must be BURSTING, trouser-rubbingly so for the chance to make another map or graph! In my local area (The Wash), we believe that we've had an overwintering Sandwich Tern which is almost unprecedented. According to the local bird recorder, it's his guess that the tern never left for its migration. Even more curiously, at least 1 Swallow has been seen in the Helston area in Cornwall all winter, and another in Essex in January!

    I've read reports that Black-headed Gulls (not on my local patch) are already on the verge of moulting into breeding plumage which, compared with my own observations of the birds in Boston, Lincs, puts that at least 2-3 weeks earlier than I'd expect. On January 24th, a worker at Gibraltar Point reported a sighting of a Collared Dove in the Skegness area ALREADY incubating eggs on JANUARY 24th! I know that pigeons and doves are early nesters, but JANUARY???? Could the show ask its viewers if they've seen any other early nesters?

    Finally, I have been rather excited in recent weeks to see not one, but a PAIR of Peregrines making regular visits to the town centre where I live. They have been seen circling around the tower of my local church, landing on it and staying for lengthy periods of time. I have seen them hunting the market place for pigeons to eat, and they are believed to be 'commuting' between the town centre and the surrounding fields and coastline for other meals. In order to encourage breeding, a local wildlife organisation has put up a nest box on the church. Should breeding happen, there'll be an official viewing place set up and possibly a live webcam feed too. If you feel like giving some coverage to Lincolnshire, I'll keep you informed of any progress with this.

  • Comment number 4.

    Please, please, please tell us about the impact this very mild winter has had on our wildlife...especially the birds. I saw daffodils on Xmas day (and a bizarre what I assume to be mating display of a lady and gentleman blackbird on said day!), bumble bees on New Year's Day, and there are still quite a few insects around. Also why have I noticed fewer birds in my garden?

    Very much looking forward to the new programme! x

  • Comment number 5.

    Oops - for "As this show's at the end of winter it could be very well-timed, as it will give viewers plenty of time to plan what they're going to plant, buy it and plant it.", add "in plenty of time for next winter". Sorry for the omission!

  • Comment number 6.

    Will my frogspawn be okay under thick ice? I put a football in the pond pre freezing weather but it froze under the football after the third day! Fish look okay but the spawn was touching the ice-help!

  • Comment number 7.

    I am keen on wild plants and fungi - especially those that can be eaten. Many species have arrived exceptionally early this year. Wild garlic in mid-December. Hogweed in flower in January - in Scotland! Reports of marsh samphire growing already! There are some seriously confused plants out there at the moment. It will be interesting to see what the current cold snap does to further perplex them.

  • Comment number 8.

    During the snow I filled up my feeders but I was surprised by the lack of birds (less than normal). Just where do birds go when the weather is very bad?

  • Comment number 9.

    1. I would like to know what has happened to the birds hardly any about,
    2. but most of all i would like you to do an article or follow swifts as they are my favourite birds of all , used to have then nesting for over 30 years but the lost the last pair in 2004 i have put up a swift box and played the disc of calls but no luck and now other birds have gone in the box , so please please can we have something about them!

  • Comment number 10.

    Why are the birds not feeding as much this year, I know it has been relatively mild, but when cold cold they disappear , I see starlings and all sorts around mine, but they don't come to feed , My Blue tits have also been going in and out of the next box, took me by surprise, so I took it down and cleaned it out

  • Comment number 11.

    Is it tit-ageddon! Is this what the mayans predicted for 2012?

    I'm blown away by the number of small bids that are around, mainly tits and finches.

    I started doing BTO bird track surveys this year and have been amazed. Maybe this is a yearly occurance, if so, how did I not notice it before?

    In a 40 minute survey I saw 45 plus blue tits, 30 plus greenfinches, 30 plus gold finches, 20 plus great tits and 20 plus long tailed tits... amongst many others. All these numbers heavily conservative.

    Lots of the bigger groups seem to be battling over Ivy clad trees.

    Every time I go out there seem to be masses of tits and finches. The king seems to be the Great tit, I watched 2 great tits herd away a group of about 8/10 long tailed tits the other day, winning the bush all for themselves

    I just hope this week of dam cold weather hasn't/won't decimate those numbers.

  • Comment number 12.

    Why are the birds not visiting the garden? Is it just that the mild weather has meant there is food aplenty elsewhere? Hardly see our woodpecker or nuthatch.

    Think we lost the wrens in last winter's cold spell. How do we encourage them to return.

  • Comment number 13.

    I feed the birds in my garden throughout the year and very occasionally see a song thrush. He (or she) usually gets chased away by the resident blackbirds. Today, with my garden covered in snow, there were three song thrushes in my hedge feeding on ivy berries. I know they are decreasing in numbers so this was a welcome sight. (And no, they were not redwings!)

  • Comment number 14.

    We haven't had any snow in Southport but we've had plenty of fog. How do owls and kestrels feed in fog?

  • Comment number 15.

    I've had a Ring Ouzel visiting my suburban Bristol garden over winter, I thought it was odd for it to be in the UK at this time of year, especially in my garden!

  • Comment number 16.

    We have a cute little house guest in fairly cold utility room - think it's a lone house mouse and am happy to accommodate it during the very cold weather. Chris Packham said they are on the decline and should be not be victimised. What does he suggest (or anyone else) for moving it on in the warmer weather and before there appear many more friends and relations. Please advise. I don't want to be unkind.

  • Comment number 17.

    Thought this might of interest to people wondering where all the birds have gone this year: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/walesnature/2012/01/where_have_all_our_birds_gone.html

  • Comment number 18.

    I was lucky enough to spend a day in January with the gamekeeper in Richmond Park (a really great guy) and during the day, we were given reports about a bird being caught up in something on one of the lakes. We took the little boat out to the island to find a young black headed gull with its wing tangled up in fishing line. I grabbed hold of him whilst John unwound the line from his wing. It looked badly damaged, but the actual wing didn't feel broken, so instead of either leaving him there to be pecked to death by the other birds or have his neck broken, I pleaded to take him home with me. Two days later, after a few splashes around in my bath tub, the little guy was ready to fly again, so at 5am I took him back to Richmond Park and after some coaxing, watched him fly (very well) off towards the lake from which we rescued him. It was a great experience to have helped this gull back to health and watch him fly off to go about his normal life again. He was a good, tough little gull!

  • Comment number 19.

    Love the show although I do wish some presenters took it more seriously. Please Please forget Political correctness and be more open about the absolute devastation reeked upon song birds and small mammals by the domestic cat. I believe that the ornithological society estimate that domestic cats in Britain KILL 50 million song birds each and every year.

  • Comment number 20.

    I intended to put wrought in my previous post NOT reeked. When I tried to change it the whole post disappeared.

  • Comment number 21.

    Just seen a pair of Tree Sparrows taking feathers into the nestbox in our garden! My husband says this is very early.

  • Comment number 22.

    I recently moved to East Dorset from Surrey and have been delighted with the numbers of birds in the area, particularly in the recent cold spell. I have had a number of Siskins in my garden and also a bullfinch, which I have not seen for a long while. One of my favourite haunts is Blashford Lakes nature reserve close by and was rewarded earlier this week by the sight of literally hundreds of Siskin, Redpoll, goldfinch and greenfinches on the many large feeders in the woodland area. The sound of all these birds in the alder trees was both incredible and wonderful!

  • Comment number 23.

    I am lucky enough to have seen a few woodcock in the local stubble fields (Derbyshire/Staffordshire borders) for the last few years, but am now aware that they are becoming increasingly attractive targets for a local shoot. How are these birds faring due to potential loss of habitat, and should there be a campaign to protect them?

  • Comment number 24.

    I was out with a friend a couple of weeks ago and he took some great shots of various birds and one in particular of a Black headed Gull flying with a fish in its mouth from the River Wharfe in Wharfedale - here it is http://twootz.com/bird-watching-gallery/4-4f196e12da2de.jpg/

  • Comment number 25.

    Its Friday 10 February and its still covered with thick snow here in Steeple Bumpstead, Suffolk.

    So how come I just found a big wasp dying in my cats water bowl.

    Crazy????

  • Comment number 26.

    We managed an hour yesterday up in Nidderdale and got good views of displaying Goldeneye and couple of Oystercatchers,a single Dunlin and someone got a Whooper Swan

  • Comment number 27.

    could i have a female blackredstart in my garden lee north devon

  • Comment number 28.

    All the trees at st Claire's school in porthcawl where 250000 starlings roost have just been cut down by permission of the council? Hope the idiots at the council are proud of there achievement in making this marvellous spectacle disappear .

  • Comment number 29.

    I have had all the usual garden birds visiting my garden and feeders this winter, but I haven't seen a single Great Tit. Last winter they were one of the most numerous birds in the garden. Is this a local (South Powys) or more widespread phenomenon?

  • Comment number 30.

    My sister told me that she has a pair of starlings feeding young, i know blackbirds will breed very early but is it unusual for starlings to be already feeding young quite this early? (Co Antrim)

  • Comment number 31.

    I have seen a Oystercatcher in the middle of a duel carridgeway twice, today and on thursday.It's not far from where i live in South Liverpool ,i've never seen anything like this before.Do they eat worms? it's about 5 mins walk from the Mersey maybe there's a lack of food there.Has anyone seen anything like this before?

    Paul

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi
    I am a very amateur bird watcher and have just been up to Scotland for a few days where i usually find myself looking for birds of prey whilst driving ( i realise i should be watching the roads instead!) Whilst waiting in the car outside a retail complex in Bishopbriggs Glasgow I noticed a large amount of geese flying overhead in lines and v formations and later driving back home down South i again noticed somewhere near the borders/ lake district huge numbers of geese again flying i think in a south easterly direction. What type of geese were they and where were they going? are they migrating early? this was Sunday 12th feb 2012. Hope someone else saw them and can fill me in?

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm eagerly awaiting the Winterwatch programme. I'll keep an eye out for the front cover of the Radio Times as I'm sure it'll get that spot. I wonder when it's scheduled for broadcast?

  • Comment number 34.

    Ladybird question!

    I have three ladybirds that i found on my windowsill and between my window and double glazing. I imagine they were there hibernating but the mild temperatures have awoken them but then it snowed so i put them inside in a glass thing i had for snails. They were all very dried up and slow but are now fully active. They have water soaked cottonwool and a raisin in there and seem content but I am wondering when i can release them?

  • Comment number 35.

    Very much looking forward to Winterwatch.. and we cant wait until Springwatch starts.... Michaela Strachan did a fantastic job co-presenting Autumwatch 2011 and I hope she will become a permanent member of the team! Also we would love to see Simon King back again please the guest presenters dont begin to compare!
    I also have a question... Since the end of January - For the last 3 weeks whilst out walking our chocolate labrador, we have frequently heard woodpeckers tapping away, in the woods and surrounding areas... I have never heard this so early in the year before... Is this normal? Has anyone else heard them? I'd be very interested to know if anyone has....

  • Comment number 36.

    This morning, bright and sunny, on the Isle of Wight, I heard a Skylark singing.It must have been singing for at least 15 minutes.What a beautiful sight and sound. Is this unusual for this time of year, or has the spell of mild weather induced it to start looking for a mate already?

  • Comment number 37.

    Woken up to 4 dollops of Frogsapawn on the garden pond today with a large frog and its mate sitting proudly by the side.

    Also the herons are about, sitting on our garden fence watching the pond 3 times this week - thank heavens for the net over the pond.

  • Comment number 38.

    Looking forward to wednesday!
    Strange things are afoot in Bournemouth ...... Native Wild Primroses have been flowering since December and Fuschias and Pelargoniums only just finished last week! Weird!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    I Found a strange blue object on a beach in Dorset this week. I have posted it on Flickr. Search- Blue Object. Anyone got any ideas what creature this has come from? The blue is much more vibrant in reality.

    Thanks
    Jayne

  • Comment number 40.

    18th February 2012 Mrs Robin, under the watchful eye of Mr Robin, has decided to build her nest in our bike port. we watched her for some two hours today as she went in and out with beak fulls of wet leaves, pushing through the rain in her relentless efforts to make the base of the nest. after she and her husband had retired for the evening we went down the garden to have a look; she has a tower system construction in progress, she has used the resting summer parasol. today (19th) she has added the inner lining to the small nest cup on the right hand side of the tower, both Mr and Mrs have defended the site from other birds today, a poor starling that just happened to land on the bird feeder, received a kung-foo style kick from Mrs R to the back of its head. brave Mrs Thrush, however, took good advantage of this and swooped in to quickly hoover up the spoils on the path. given Mrs Robins efforts i think it is safe to say that we will not be using the parasol this summer, should a clutch of eggs appear or worst the bikes should she not let us use the bottom of the garden. although this is very entertaining for us, is it too early for her to be nesting?

  • Comment number 41.

    I live in a residential area, about four miles from Manchester city centre. The location has a range of mature trees and good sized gardens and attracts a fair degree of wildlife, from foxes and hedgehogs, to woodpeckers, herons (from the nearby River Mersey) and the usual range of garden birds. Over the last three days I've found three dead birds; two pigeons and one magpie that have been either partly eaten or ripped apart by something. Sparrow Hawks are fairly common round here, but I've never seen this number of birds killed/eaten in such a short time. Any ideas what it might be?

  • Comment number 42.

    I live in a small town in east anglia. Since the end of last week we have had wonderful dusk displays of starlings arriving to roost. They have chosen a site in a small group of old conifers at the bottom of next doors garden. The gathering starts as the sun is setting about an hour and half before the actual drop to roost begins just as the daylight is finally failing. For an hour and more we are treated to amazing displays which I understand are called murmurations. We wonder if they have arrived from Russia or Scandinavia as a consequence of the really bad weather conditions and as we are just inland from the furthest point of east england. Every evening the birds come right over our heads, so low as they sweep back and forth before the big drop.

  • Comment number 43.

    Chris (Packham) - I believe that this Winterwatch special programme has been pre-recorded, without any 'live' segments, but wondered if you might still be able to feature a 'Q & A' piece somewhere so ...

    What are your views re the continuing drought in many parts of the UK? What do you believe are the main causes (and most effective solutions!)? Plus, which creatures etc do you think will suffer most if this situation continues - or might there be any wildlife, plants etc that benefit? Similarly, what has been the effect of the recent fairly prolonged cold period (unusually persistent in even London and the South (many of my plants surprisingly succumbed - even 'though relatively protected next to the windows on a 'heat island' Thameside balcony - and the birds' water remained frozen for several days!)) ... particularly since this weather was sandwiched between such unseasonally warm periods? Again, which areas of nature have suffered most and which do you expect might benefit?

    By the way, what wonderful 'dark skies' this recent cold spell produced! We were amazed when out on Saturday night to count almost 20 stars, readily visible even under the EXTREMELY bright lights of St Katharine Docks ... including Orion's Belt!! I'm sure this seems pathetically paltry to those of you fortunate enough to live in far less light-polluted areas ... but we are generally lucky to see even the MIR Space Stn.(as well, of course, as the beautiful, steadfast moon ...)!! So, joy of joys!!!

    Anyway, thanks for providing this intermediate "WinterWatch" programme - no drought on this front, at least, before the BBC's spring transmissions! Good luck with the show tomorrow, and all the best, TB and co.

    PS - Re the preceding post - We were lucky enough to see a similar starling murmuration when we visited the wonderful WWT reserve in Arundel, W.Sussex at the start of this year. Just by chance we sat down for some F&B by a viewing window just as the birds started to arrive above the facing trees - mesmerising! We last experienced such a display whilst walking just before dusk near Gatwick Airport - that time we could hear the birds, too ('rattling' etc), and even feel the air from the wings of some which swooped quite low in the cold evening air ... Wow!!

  • Comment number 44.

    (or rather -) ... unseasonaBly warm ..! Whoops, sorry!! TB.

  • Comment number 45.

    Just returned from a fishing trip with my friend. We went spinning at Rockland Staithe and also walked up to the dyke which enters Rockland Broad and tryed there. We were unsuccessful, although we spotted a seal in the mouth of the broad. The seal had had more luck than we had on the fishing front. It was only about 20 metres infront of us and we watched it engulf on what looked like a fairly sizeable bream. Someone walked past with his dog and said that there has been a few spottings recently on the the River Yare. We couldn't believe it!

  • Comment number 46.

    Hi just come back on line because interest in the starlings has increased outside of our house with the roost at its most majestic with the birds packing tighter and tighter into dark balls and clouds which twist and fan. Someone has their tripod up on our car park. Nearly dark and they will all be down shortly. I do have a question. Why have they come into roost in the back garden conifers when their are lots of reed beds in Reydon and Southwold and wooded areas around? How long will they stay and are they now likely to make this an annual event? I do not have any answers to the drought conditions other than that we are all aware and as we do try to use only what is needed and increase our outside collection into butts. The big problem is leakage waste as in Essex recently and makes household savings seem a waste. Plant more trees and try to re-establish woodland that has been taken. Its a global issue and needs global response. I am amazed by some of the television documentaries which bring our world into view. Me, well I love this world and the life we could have for a long long tyime.

  • Comment number 47.

    Welcome back all of you,so looking forward to Winterwatch even though it is only a one off! Would like to ask a question of you Chris.I have many birds visiting my two acres including many crows,but for the past three weeks I have had a pure white crow with a black beak visit morning and evening with a small flock of about twenty black ones. He is absolutely pure white except for his beak and legs. Is this unusual?I know there are many with some white feathers but to see one completely white is most unusual to me.
    Maureen Adamson from Garstang,in wet and windy Lancashire.

  • Comment number 48.

    During a recent cold spell, I noticed outside my Conservatory, a Great Tit feeding on a large leafed plant covered in a 'hoare' type frost. I wondered quite what it was feeding on and after watching for several minutes realised it was actually eating the frost presumably as a way of having a drink of water.Am I correct in my assumption
    asI have never seen our many Tits do this before?

  • Comment number 49.

    Have just noticed you are screening 'Winterwatch' this evening. Well to be honest I got a little excited... the prospect of cosying up with a cuppa, whilst being entertained and enthralled by the teams immense knowledge , and the witty banter that ensues. Chris with his subtle references to his obvious love of quality music, what a perfect combination. Really, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy the programme. As an artist living in Dorset, the show continues to be an inspiration to me, reinforcing my love of nature and wildlife. Thankyou all at Springwatch HQ.
    Sam, Dorset.
    p.s. Did I really hear a nightingale this morning, is it possible?

  • Comment number 50.

    I heard a cuckoo yesterday.
    Arrowe Country Park, Wirral,
    That has to be the earliest @Chris Packham.

  • Comment number 51.

    Many of the bird species that spend the summer in Britain have nore than one brood if conditions, such as food supplies, are good enough. Many species migrate south for the winter, presumably to where there is more food. Do any breed at both ends of their range, and it not, why not?

  • Comment number 52.

    Dear all, Over the last few days we have not seen a single bird on our feeders or in our or our neighbours. We travelled across the city and into the countryside yesterday and all we saw were, Sea Gulls and an odd crow. + ONE woodpidgeon.
    We usually have- Sparrows-Blackbirds- Thrush-Blue tits- Great tits- Goldfinches. We have even had a Spotted Woodpecker and a young Kestral feeding. But, after watching a garden full of birds all year were have they all gone?

  • Comment number 53.

    "Homer's Odd-Ditty ..!"

    Chris and co. - What are the meanings of blackbirds' 'sweet nothings'?? 'Our' little male blackbird 'Homie' just joined me for lunch and he then sat on the balcony rail for ages and sang the softest, sweetest song-ette; truly enchanting in all the wind and rain. Would this (barely audible) 'song' have been a mating call/song directed at 'Marje'; or an extremely quiet warning to (an)other (black)bird/s in close proximity; or was he making comforting noises to a nearby nestling (too early for even blackbird fledglings?)? He also seemed to 'throw' his voice so I was never sure whether just he was singing or another bird also (again, Marje maybe or another (rival?) male blackbird; or even one of his previous youngsters ... Incidentally, do blackbirds mate for life? Marje is easy to recognise due to her poor little bent leg, but we're never totally sure that we always see her same original Homer No.1 throughout each year ...).

    Blackbirds seem always to love the rain and to sing ever more when it arrives - is this indeed the case, and is it just to mark their 'worm' territory?? 'Our' blackbirds also seem often to poo after these soft little song periods ... our balcony is currently covered in Homer poo!! (do blackbirds always tend to poo in the same place and is maybe the soft singing simply a 'happy pooing' song, or just 'performed' to help things along a little?!). We're also sure that blackbirds and crows, particularly, are becoming ever more varied in their vocalisations (perhaps adapting to the constant appalling human noise which surrounds them here, pretty steadily through each day (and night!) - I'm continually amazed that the birds seem still to be able to communicate and make themselves heard over all these hideous competing sounds!). Quite often we are alerted to the birds' arrival by what we can only interprete as the equivalent of excited blackbird whooping ... sheer surprise and uncontained joy on finding new food put out for them!! I know that - as Chris P repeatedly reinforces - nothing in nature occurs casually and I, too, generally believe this; however, it's almost impossible not to interpret these birds' reactions in terms of human emotion as the sounds seem SO similar and familiar...

    Thanks as ever, to anyone who can help with all these musings, and best regards, TB and co.

  • Comment number 54.

    On Feb 20th we noticed one of our smallish Coy Carp desperately flipping and trying to free itself from what looked like a black 'growth' around its head and gills.

    We netted the fish and discovered a large toad had it tightly in its grasp. My husband forced the toad off the exhausted fish which has now recovered in a bucket. The toad jumped back into the pond where there are more fish !

    We've never heard of this before, was the toad trying to 'mate' with the fish ???

  • Comment number 55.

    Particularly given the programme preceding Winterwatch on BBC2 (3B's) - and also as this really seems to be a bloom(sic!) industry in the 21st, 'lifestyle' century - I'd welcome advice from Chris and others on the 'cons and pros' of the cut-flower industry, eg.how it affects bee and other pollinating insects and wildlife habitat generally; the fact that so many of the UK's - particularly, I suspect, London's - cut-flowers apparently come from Kenya, Cornwall/the Scilly Isles and the Channel Islands, etc. Also any advice re the plusses/minuses of ('using') NON-native plants (eg wildflowers) and Sarah Raven's advocacy (I think*) of their sometime use. Many thanks, TB.
    (* struggling to 'multi-task' - sorry!)

  • Comment number 56.

    It may be winter but long tailed tits are nestbuilding!

  • Comment number 57.

    Welcome back to Katie It wasnt the same without her

  • Comment number 58.

    This is the picture for the above comment no 56:-)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/48787782@N05/6917563671/

  • Comment number 59.

    Hi - I wonder if you can throw light on our village problem! We have been chosen by an ever inceasing flock of starlings as their home. I live in the village of Holme in South Cumbria, not far from Morecambe bay. In the last few weeks starlings have moved into roost in the very centre of our village. While they look fantastic coming home to roost, they are quite noisy and their droppings are not welcome for those whose gardens they roost in. Even walking the dog around dusk can be interesting. I took this video with my phone and posted on facebook, but no solutions as yet. Any ideas anyone?? http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003076625570&ref=tn_tnmn#!/photo.php?v=173962392716314

  • Comment number 60.

    It seems the (relatively) warm spell in the North East has brought some great spring visitors to my garden. The best was a buff tailed bumblebee which I very rarely get in my garden so I was pleased to see the very large queen searching my garden for food.

    We have also been seeing pairing up and nest building of several bird species such as lapwing on some farmland on the North East too.

    Hopefully a sign of more warm weather to come.

  • Comment number 61.

    hi guys i stay in central scotland and over the last few weeks i have noticed alot of wild birds beginning to nest alot earlier than usual is due to the warming weather?

  • Comment number 62.

    I love this programme, Chris and Martin and loved Michaela, she's such a sweetie. Please can she be on much, much more.

  • Comment number 63.

    Last weekend my wife and I were taking an early morning Sunday morning on the ridgeway in South Oxfordshire, and we disturbed a group of 4/5 birds on a piece of open scrub. Having wathced them for about 15 minutes we took in all of the characteristics. When we got home we looked through a 3 bird books and both came up with short eared owls. Ground feeding, daytime, long thin wings with no 'feathering' at the end of the wing, flat head, short tail, the list of characteristics went on. We are convinced that si what we saw. Is this unusual at this time of year in the South Midlands?

  • Comment number 64.

    welcome back everyone on Winter Watch, missed you. Every year starlings nest in my roof, they manage to get under the tiles, such a small gap and no matter how I try I cannot spot which tile is their front door! yet early every morning I hear their tap tap on the roof (obviously just above my bed) as they prepare their nest. Eventually every dawn I will be woken by young starlings as Mum and Dad bring breakfast home. I woulds prefer them to make their home somewhere else, although I cannot see any damage to my tiles. Have checked ther loft and still cannot find them. Any ideas on how to rehome them?

  • Comment number 65.

    Seeing the cuckoo on Winter watch. I believe baby birds imprinted on the first thing they see as they emerge from the egg. So how does the cuckoo find a mate as they are raised by surragate parents that are usually smaller, looking nothing like a likely mate?

  • Comment number 66.

    on the subject of birdsong on winterwatch
    why is it that chickens, ducks and particulary swans don't sing? [mute swans obviously speak for themselves!]
    these are notably and coincidentally edible foul-but does their tuneless honk, quack or cluck this have anything to do with where the voice is coming from or the length of their necks?

  • Comment number 67.

    Hi all, it's so lovely to see all the swallows on Winterwatch just now! My daughter and I raised 2 last summer after their nest collapsed and they both successfully fledged! My question is : one of the swallows didn't want to be released and spent a few days just sitting on my arm whilst I cared for our horses. She (maybe a she?) eventually flew after 4 days but I found her again 3 times after she went. The last time she went I didn't see her again. Does anyone think she would have survived and picked up with the other local swallows for emigration? I was so tempted to keep her but couldn't knowing their capability of flying so far! If anyone knows about swallows, please let me know. I would be incredibly interested.
    Thanks, Tanya.
    PS. I only wish to know because I still think about her and can't help hoping that she is out there somewhere and survived!

  • Comment number 68.

    I would be very grateful if the Springwatch team could explore the idea that fireworks are leading to a decline in UK bird populations. I find it so distressing at New Years, Guy Fawkes and other celebrated dates that so many fireworks are let off from virtually every garden. Just how resiliant are our feathered friends to these explosions going off about their heads? Would the restriction of fireworks to public displays (ban over-the-counter fireworks) give birds a fighting chance.

  • Comment number 69.

    I was out in my Coventry garden yesterday (Tuesday 21 Feb 2012) and I was absulutely astounded to hear what I am convinced was a cuckoo! It seemed to be moving across the area and cuckooing as it went. It called about a dozen times before falling silent either because it stopped calling or else it had moved out of earshot. I counted around a dozen calls over a 20 minute period. I am sure it was a cuckoo . . . . it was . . wasn't it?!

  • Comment number 70.

    When animals change colouration for winter they must be using up energy in moulting at a very energy demanding time as they are also trying to build up body mass to survive the winter. I know it works for them but does it make sense?

  • Comment number 71.

    we live in north staffordshire and whilst out in Horton near Rudyard we saw ared squirrel. Should we report this and to whom?

  • Comment number 72.

    I love watching the antics of the wildlife in my garden.But one bird in particular is worrying me. For the last 2 years there is a bluetit that every morning, at this time of the year, keeps flying into my window repeatedly. Last year, it did this so oftan, and so hard, there was blood on the glass. Its doing the same thing again this year and my whole family is concerned for the welfare of the little bird.

    Two years ago, the wall between the upstais and downstairs bay window had to be rebuilt after it cracked. when the rendering was taken off, a small empty nest fell out. At the time we didn't think anything of this, but now believe the nest must have belonged to this bluetit. Is it possible that this bird is looking for its old nest? Can someone confirm this is the case? Or is it because there is a large shrub near to the window and its reflection is confusing the bird? here is the thing, it seems to be the same bird , if its to do with the reflection, why aren't the other blutits doing the same thing?

    Sometime when we see this little bird repeatedly banging on the window, its scary because its must be hurting itself.

    Any ideas anyone?

    By the way, thanks to the winterwatch team,my family love watching the show.

  • Comment number 73.

    While watching winterwatch hibernating hedgehogs were mentioned, so can anyone tell me why during the really cold spell early February did I see one in my garden

  • Comment number 74.

    just after 6 o'clock this evening a bat flew over my head into a western red cedar tree; possibly a pipistrelle? Is it because of the mild weather - I have never seen a bat at this time of year?

  • Comment number 75.

    I was surprised and horrified when Chris said that Red Kites eat voles and "unlucky rabbits". It would be a very unlucky rabbit, as it would have to be stone dead for a kite to touch it. As he should know they eat invertebrates and carrion, they are not buzzards. I am lucky enough to live in an area where kites fly over my garden constantly and enhance every walk we take. There are too many people who believe that kites are circling to snatch their pet dog, without Chris giving out incorrect facts. I hope that that program will feature these beautiful birds next spring and give them a better press.

  • Comment number 76.

    Enjoyed watching Winter Watch. However I was a little disappointed to find that the reference to a Red Admiral butterfly on Boxing day in Scotland featured in the photo clip was not the red admiral seen most years throughout the UK but an exotic relative from the Canary islands (Indian Red Admiral). Surely for the sake of scientific accuracy would it not have been possible to obtain the real thing. Keep up the good work otherwise.

  • Comment number 77.

    a strange sight this morning; It was daylight, 8.15am, about 8 degrees. 7 pairs of worms copulating on the surface of one field when i was out walking. But not in other fields. Is this climatic conditions? Spring? Is this an annual event or does it happen more frequently under the cover of darkness? Surely a field day (literally) for the blackbird.

    The worms werre head to tail, with secretion from their bands, but their bands were not together. On closer inspection (sorry, worms) they sprung apart and popped down their respective worm holes.

    Do they pop thier head above the surface, have a quick look around for a partner, and if lucky start to procreate? Can anyone answer....?

  • Comment number 78.

    Just to let you all no sat 25th of feb we have frogspawn 4lots so far it gets early and earlier every year ! Poole Dorset . Love the show ! X

  • Comment number 79.

    We see a pair of large white birds fly past every day at around 4pm in Hampshire. They fly like a Snowy Owl. Is it possible that they are Snowy Owls? If not can you help us identify them?

  • Comment number 80.

    Out walking yesterday on the Thames at Weybridge where we saw a pair of Egyptian geese. Nothing unusual there - but with three chicks!!!??

  • Comment number 81.

    Can anyone tell me which way to face my bird box please ?

  • Comment number 82.

    A cuckoo was seen on Monday 27th February in Morpeth Northumberland on a garden table about 2 meters away from our window. He sat there for about two minutes - not feeding, just looking around. Looked in very good condition - flew to an apple tree, about 10 meters away and sat there for a few more minutes, then off into the wood

  • Comment number 83.

    As I let my dog out late at night in our back garden in the second week in January I was amazed to see a bright green caterpillar feeding on a rockery thymus plant. I tried to identify it and it is about 4cms long and most fits either a small white or a brimstone butterfly with a line of white dashes along its back and white bolder lines along each flank. It only feeds during the dark hours and is never seen in daylight. About 5 days after first sighting we had two nights of -7 degrees and daytime temperatures did not rise above -1. I assumed that this apparently confused creature would not survive, but none of it as it has reappeared each night since then and is there now on 2 March. Can anyone help with identification and why it is nocturnal and can survive very low temperatures?

  • Comment number 84.

    THE CONSERVATIVE nppf planning laws recently say they will protect countryside jems,yet they mention nothing about wilderness! will they build all over this,,,55% of u.k is not protected whitch is illegal to do so in law anyway...why is it not protected,,,,because they want to build on it and make people pay for stuf that can't be owned anyway..corruption governments....no one owns biodiversity!

  • Comment number 85.

    Regarding the caterpillar reported on 1 March - It is still with us however the thymus upon which it had been feeding was now brown and dead. Taking a chance I bought a fresh common thyme plant - after finding that there were several different flavours of thyme! I tranferred the creature to it late at night and it has taken up residence and feeding well!

  • Comment number 86.

    In response to request on Winterwatch 2012, I'm posting an update on bees seen in my area this year. In my garden in Darlington Co Durham, I saw a Honey Bee on 26/2/12 and a Two-banded White tailed Bumblebee on 29/2/12 - the earliest I have ever seen either in this neck of the woods!

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    I have rarely heard a Jay sing but managed to catch one yesterday and took a video. This is on my flickr stream. Hope you watch and enjoy, and maybe even use it on your show?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/48787782@N05/6980006247/in/photostream

  • Comment number 89.

    Have just watch a mini drama,a sparrow stealing a blue tits nest box,the Tits have been building last few days,much tapping and fussing going on,then this morning a sparrow was seen going into the box,& a fight started with one of the blue tits,they even fought on the floor!!at the moment it seems the sparrow has won,but the blue tit still flying to the hole ,sparrow sitting half in half out of the box,weird!!

  • Comment number 90.

    My Mum's car was covered in big splats of moss. We think they had been dropped on there by starlings who were pinching the moss from our roof to make a nest. We have some great photos of my Mum's car which would be great to see on the TV. I am 8 years old and I am helping my Mum to write this blog.
    Please will the team put our pictures on Springwatch?

  • Comment number 91.

    I went out to do somethig in our garden last night and saw an enormous hedgehog eating the dry cat food I put out for anybody who wants it. I guess it survived the winter.

    PaS 62, I disagree, bring back Kay Tumble.

    isobel 66, Our chicken talks to us making a variety of sounds.

    sjgrundy 71, I have a nice recipe for squirrel pie...

    Emma 78, We have lots of frogspawn in out tiny pond.

    Emma 81, With your face towards the hole in the box. You will see the birds come and go better that way.

  • Comment number 92.

    Up here in Morayshire, where we have just broken the March record temperature - it was 22.8C yesterday in Aberdeenshire - my bees are very far ahead in ther preparations for the summer. Yesterday they were very active, - bringing in pollen from Dandelion, Gorse, Pussy Willow and Cherry Blossom. We are seeing eggs, and both capped and uncapped brood - yippee! Busy Queen Bee.
    Graham, my husband, saw 8 Tortoiseshell butterflies on water which had overflowed from the water-butt and 1 Peacock butterfly.
    Whilst walking the dogs he saw 13 curlew in adjacent sewn barley fields, 5 female Roe deer in the marshland and 11 Tufted Duck on the pond.
    There were masses of Chaffinches, a pair of Yellow Hammers and a large flight of Geese overhead. The Fieldfare, which has overwintered in our garden, is having daily 'squabbles' with a Mr. Blackbird - he is winning I think.
    A good place to be!!

  • Comment number 93.

    Viv 92, According to an old calendar we had hanging in our bee shed when we had bees, April (almost that now) is when you should be checking the hives during the middle of the month, look for eggs, sealed and unsealed brood, pollen and honey stores. Prepare to repace old brood combs with new frames and foundation. Add queen excluder and super. It doesn't mention a rape crop, so maybe it wasn't around in 1987. We had it and if you didn't get it out of the frames, it set solid. Do you get rape honey where you live? We had to give up beekeeping when we both became allergic to bee stings.

  • Comment number 94.

    Black Fox seen in South Cambridgeshire on the 22nd to 25th March 2012, photographs taken to confirm sighting. For details please contact as we do not want to be swamped by thousands.

  • Comment number 95.

    John Moore 94, Don't worry, very few posters respond to anything here. They just post and leave. Like to see their names in print, I guess.

  • Comment number 96.

    Hiya, we are wondering is there a problem with a family of approximately 5 or 6 mice nesting around our water pond, probably nesting under the pre formed waterfall in the garden, about 6m from the back door, there has been one or two mice each year, however we have noticed an increase in numbers this spring and are a bit concerned, although very entertaining as they move so fast and look quite cute, should we consider trying to get rid or just let them be, what would be the best way to deal with this.

  • Comment number 97.

    DM 96, Cats usually get rid of our mice, an not necessarily our cats. A neighbor's cat recently caught one and our chicken stole it from him. I recovered it and gave it back and it then disappeared. After they are dead, cats usually quit 'playing' with them. I hate poisoning mice because they are so small and cute, unless they are in the house.

  • Comment number 98.

    Last thursday a lone swift flew over ,seems rather early to me ,this was in staffordshire

  • Comment number 99.

    robins in my bedroom,i started feeding the robin in my garden mealworms since then he comes into my bedroom and helps himself,is this normal behaviour.ps was hoping to start a colony of mealworms but he keeps eating my stock...

  • Comment number 100.

    A lesser spotted woodpecker has made the hole in our bird box 'bigger' over the last few weeks. We have noticed that it is frequently coming back, will it nest there?

 

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