Springwatch

Posts

  • Science and Research Manager

    Earlier this year the UK was hit by the ‘Beast from the East’, which caused havoc with trains, roads and disrupted many businesses and jobs. However, it was not only people who were affected; many amphibians suffered as well. In particular, common frogs did not fare well in the cold conditions and the extreme weather caused the death of hundreds of frogs across the country. Known as winterkill, the death of frogs in garden ponds after the winter occurs to a degree every year. However, incidences of winterkill were far higher in the early spring of 2018.

    What is winterkill?

    Several species of UK amphibians overwinter in ponds, including common frogs and smooth newts. These animals tend to spend the winter in the silt and decaying leaves at the bottom of ponds. Normally this does not harm the animals and they resume breeding as usual the following spring. The advantage to spending the winter in the pond is that the frogs and newts are ready to breed as soon as the weather becomes warm enough. However, these amphibians rely on absorbing oxygen through their skin, especially during periods of cold weather. This can be a problem as sometimes during the winter months...

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  • Although Chris du Feu found fame this Springwatch through his love for the tree slug, he has also been an incredible asset to BTO’s Nest Record Scheme. He reflects on 40 years of volunteering.

    The ink was barely dry on my trainee ringing permit when I had a call from John McMeeking (then chairman of the ringing committee) inviting me to come to his ringing operation in nearby Treswell Wood. John had begun what was to become the longest-running throughout-the-year standard site operation in the country. He was keen to make the work not just about metal on legs but to use the data to study the birds in that ancient woodland and to integrate information from ringing with other work in the wood which, at that time included bird territory mapping and coppice management. Coppiced woodland suffers a relative shortage of mature trees with holes for nesting tits and John wanted to initiate a nestbox programme. He detected my interest, dangled the bait and I found myself running a nestbox operation, now in its 40th year.

    Chris with the updated nestbox guides in 2004.

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  • We’ve spent the past year as guests of the National Trust at their Sherborne Park Estate in Gloucestershire. Springwatch series editor Rose Edwards looks back on this series and an amazing year.

    I’m sitting watching the rehearsal for our penultimate 2018 Springwatch show, and thinking – where does the time go?

    We’ve spent the past year as guests of the National Trust at their Sherborne Park Estate in Gloucestershire and we couldn’t have been made more welcome.

    It started as a hypothetical question. Could we spend 12 months in the same place, following the local wildlife across the year? Oh - and could that location be in the heart of the UK countryside to show everyone that there is wildlife right on the doorstep if you take a little time to look for it.

    The idea became a reality when we found Sherborne and now 12 months later we can look back and say we have been treated to a wealth of wonderful wildlife.

    Last year – the kestrel chicks in the church...

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  • As our little owls take centre stage this Springwatch, Emily Joachim delves into the behaviour of the little owl....

    Little owl vs blackbird has been one of this year’s most dramatic storylines on Springwatch. Last week, two blackbird fledglings from a nearby nest were predated and fed to the little owlets. This blackbird family has since left the barn, but overnight, the little owls found a second blackbird nest and predated a nestling at 5:38am and a second at 6:10am; the forth surviving blackbird chick fledged at 7:04am. This was its best chance of survival.

    At approximately 85-100...

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  • Kendrew Colhoun, senior conservation scientist at the RSPB NI, explains whats involved in keeping track of swifts.

    This is the third year of a truly exciting project we have been undertaking examining the foraging behaviour and migration of ‘common’ swifts. Once much more common, swifts are these days sadly declining throughout the UK and Ireland and it has been a bit of a wrench to see fewer of these birds return late or not at all this May and June. It does appear to have been a poor ‘swift’ year - perhaps also for many of our long-distance migrants who winter in sub-Saharan Africa....

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  • Swift Awareness Week (16-23 June) has over 80 events across the UK all designed to help you learn about this extraordinary bird and how to help it. Nick Brown from the Derbyshire Swift Conservation Project explains how we can all help these beautiful birds.

    Swifts, unlike swallows and martins, are a dark brown all over. What’s more, you’ll never see them perching on telegraph wires or trees. They are superbly aerial birds only landing when they need to breed and lay eggs.

    Like swallows, they migrate south and spend the winter in Africa but unlike swallows, they never touch the ground there...

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  • Like Gary Moore, Mike Drew from Anglian Water has been enchanted by the Nightingale’s song. He explains why it’s so important we ensure that its song remains a part of the British countryside, and how work by BTO and Anglian Water is trying to learn how we can achieve this.

    I first heard the song of the Nightingale in spring 2002 at Grafham Water, when I got my first full-time job as an Assistant Warden working for the Wildlife Trust Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire (BCN). The song of the Nightingale is something you never forget; it’s quite amazing as there are parts you...

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  • The My Naturewatch Camera has been developed to help you capture wildlife in your garden, as well as helping to track birds. Bill Gaver from the My Naturewatch team told us more...

    For the last year or so, our team of design researchers from the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths University and the Royal College of Art have been working on devices that people can use to engage with their local wildlife.

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  • Springwatch Team

    Cuckoos are often heard before they are seen and for some are certainly the first sign of spring! However since the 1980s these cunning parasitising migrants have suffered severe declines - their numbers have dropped by 65%.Overwintering in central Africa they migrate each year to the UK to breed, and it is thought that some birds may travel nearly 2000 miles in a single flight. But with the species experiencing such huge declines, it's raised the question of what is happening to them en route?

     

     

    A recently tagged cuckoo which will hopefully reveal new insights on their migration route

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  • Springwatch Social Producer

    Britain’s bees are invading bird boxes. We’ve had numerous reports from people expressing their surprise at seeing bees flying in and out of empty and occupied boxes.

    We often reply to emails and messages from you on social media, where you've reported a housing crisis in your gardens as the birds and the bees seem to be vying for the same living quarters. 

    Why do bees decide to...

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