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Springwatch - in the eye of the storm

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Paul Deane Paul Deane | 19:32 UK time, Monday, 11 June 2012

Well it's been an eventful few days here at Ynys-hir in west Wales.

Many of you will have seen the news reports of floods and our site was right in the middle of it.

Friday 8th June 9:00 - 11:00am

The rain had been falling steadily since the early hours, not heavy but relentless.

Some of the team had noticed that the waterfall at Dyfi Furnace, on old iron ore smelting mill - next to the bat roost and near our OB site - was huge. The river was exceptionally high compared to previous days.

Dyfi furnace

Dyfi furnace

11:00 - 12:30
When we got a call to say that the river broke its banks at the far end of our field - we knew we had a big problem.

River bursts its banks

Nearby river bursts its banks

So we had to prepare for the worst - get everything off the floor and as high as possible....and quickly.

But even as we were doing this, water started to come into the site from behind us. With water now flowing freely through the site, and right through our production tent, we had to evacuate and cut the power.

Evacuating the office

Evacuating the production office / tent

That meant the nest watcher's truck and our live webcams ended.

We were cold and soaked to the skin, but at least we could retreat to safety...the animals had no choice but to sit out the storm. With continuous rain and high winds, we wondered if anything could survive.

Saturday 09th June
During the early hours of Saturday morning, the nearby village of Talybont had floodwaters rising to 5ft deep in places.

In the surrounding area, 1,000 people were evacuated and 150 rescued during the early hours of Saturday morning.

The rivers of Leri and Ceulan burst their banks flooding homes and caravan parks in Ceredigion, Powys and southern Gwynedd.

This was the worst flooding in this area since 1973 - nearly 40 years.

Back on our site key members of the team met at 10am to assess the situation, although it was a struggle to even get there through flooded and blocked roads. When we arrived, we couldn't even get into the field. Water was flowing fast through the site, 2ft deep in places, out of the gate and down the road towards the estuary.

Sunday 10th June - the clean up starts
We finally got onto site properly on Sunday and started the cleanup. Very luckily the water levels had stopped just below desk height, and just below the height of the main broadcasting truck, leaving most things a bit damp, but still useable.

flood height

Flood height

Our web servers' cabin weighing over 4 tonnes, was shifted by the sheer force of the water and would have floated off, had it not been tethered to the trucks by its cables.

So with a lot of re-cabling, testing, cleaning, heavy lifting and Glastonbury-scale mud, we managed to get our first nest cam live on the web by 5pm.

Meanwhile we were kindly offered a temporary production office by a local Carillion construction site, working on improvements to the main road to Aberystwyth.

The first nestcam was back in action at around 5pm and everyone was delighted to see the 4 barn owl chicks alive and well. Barns are clearly a good place to be in a storm.

And by today (Monday) we've now managed to get almost all our cameras back live on the web, despite the wild weather. And thanks to the team working round the clock and all the help we've had from the local community. Springwatch is back tonight to tell the story of how the wildlife coped with such extreme weather.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I live in North Norfolk and whilst we haven't suffered such severe weather as many parts of the country, it has been cold, wet and windy for most days over the past few weeks. My main concern is butterflies and bees. Having two dogs, I walk every day in the countryside. Yesterday, I walked one of my regular 2 mile walks on local land that is totally organic and has a wide variety of wild flowers and blossoms. It was a reasonably warm ( for once) quite still, late afternoon, yet on the whole walk I saw only 2 orange-tips, a small white and one Holly blue butterfly, and a very small number of bees. This seems to be the norm, and my garden ( which again is totally organic and has a wide variety of plants grown especially to attract bees and butterflies) has had virtually no butterflies ( bees have been about and seem to be of a reasonably wide variety). This lack of butterflies and bees cannot be right and presumably the weather is at least partly responsible - any thoughts or observations?

  • Comment number 2.

    Very happy to see the Goldcrest have survived. Gorgeous little birds. Been following the somewhat traumatic story and progress of Monty and Nora over the weekend. What a brave Mum & Dad they are, very moving to see Nora desperately trying to shield and protect her babies and I'm glad the Dyfi project team eventually decided to help and intervene. I think that although the general 'rule and code' for those who observe and film wildlife struggling for survival due to acts of nature, is not to intervene and let nature take it's course, I believe now is the time to change this.
    Being the dominant species on our planet, the loss of wildlife habitat and their food sources we inevitably bring with our global domination is going to get worse. We can no longer be satisfied in enjoying the films we watch and the photographs we see and take of our wildlife and allow the potential for the demise of a species by sticking to the 'code'. We could now be doing more harm than good. It's time, to step in on a world wide scale when wild animals are observed to be in danger from starvation, drought and flood. To give precious birds such as Nora and Monty a chance for breeding success. If we want to see species stay off the IUCN Red lists and not become extinct. Environmental awareness and quick conservation action is the only way forward in an ever changing world with an ever changing climate.

  • Comment number 3.

    The cold wet weather that is gradually wiping out much of our wildlife, it is my belief that nature is not to blame. Our weather is being controlled and manipulated - worldwide - for many reasons, including the interests of Monsanto to control all of the world food supply. You only have to do a bit of research to discover what is going on. It is devastating.

  • Comment number 4.

    I walk a butterfly transect every week, but have hardly seen any butterflies nor have I seen any evidence of caterpillars in spite of several hours of searching. I would love to hear observations by others on the state perceived or actual of the state of the butterfly populations. Are they just waiting for better weather or are there concerns for some species?

  • Comment number 5.

    I am really sorry to hear about the Osprey chick.I wandered if you were interested in seeing some other chicks.I own forest about 20 miles from Ynys Hir.In the forest there a number of bird of prey nests.You can see in from gound level(on a steep slope) a buzzards nest with 3? chicks and a Goshawk nest with 3 chicks.It is also a red kite hotspot.If you want further details or wish to visit/film please contact me on the e-mail/telephone no I gave at my bbc registration. Kind Regards Craig Evans

  • Comment number 6.

    Congrats on being able to produce a good program in the aftermath of the storm.

  • Comment number 7.

    A big well done to all involved with bringing the fantastic Springwatch to our Screens. You are amazing and thank you. Monday's programme brought home the huge challenges our wildlife face, and although there has been much devastation, there is also much to be hopeful about. Very sad to see the loss of life and habitat, but then you see that the little Goldcrest nest has survived, along with others. Mother nature can be cruel and hard at times, but she will always bring balance to our lives and to that of our animals and environment. I feel I can remain hopeful that despite the loses, there will always be those who survive. Thank you again to all the Springwatch Team. You are true stars.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Team

    OTTERS!

    I live in a village called Meifod in Powys which is split in two by the River Vyrnwy.

    Last year whilst crossing the bridge on my horse I saw an otter in broad daylight (about 1pm) rolling and playing with its own feet on the top of the water, she was having a wonderful time and did not mind at all that I was there; only about 25ft from her. Fantastic!! It is something I will never forget and hope I will see again this year.
    A fab Spring Watch 2012 thank you.

 

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