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  1. Hen harrier decline

    Thursday 23 January 2014, 21:25

    Tim Scoones Tim Scoones Excecutive Producer Springwatch

    The summer of 2013 was the first time that there were no recorded hen harrier nestings in England. This has serious implications for the survival of the species in this country, and urgent efforts to ensure the conservation of the species are under way.

     

    The issues that surround hen harrier conservation are constantly in debate, and there is more than one theory about the best approach to stabilising – and increasing – hen harrier numbers.

     

    Many believe that illegal persecution of hen harriers through shooting, trapping and disturbing nests continues to be a major factor in their decline.

     

    Meanwhile, a study has suggested that certain moorland management techniques can contribute to a rise in numbers of hen harriers. You can read that below.

     

    We’ve provided further information and links below if you want to find out more about hen harrier populations, and for the latest news on this topic from our BBC News colleagues. 

    As ever we welcome your comments and encourage you to have your say using the Comments button below, but we ask you to please respect the opinion of others. 

     

    Read more about Hen harrier decline

  2. Iolo's birdwatch

    Thursday 23 January 2014, 17:20

    Iolo Williams Iolo Williams

    
The statistics show that more than 12 million of us feed our garden birds over the winter months and there is no doubt that providing food for our feathered friends brings a great deal of happiness into the lives of millions of people. 

    Nuthatch - Alex Potts A close-up of a nuthatch by Alex Potts

    My own love for birds and wildlife started in the family garden at Lake Vyrnwy and I recall being repeatedly scolded by my mum for sitting on the storage heater watching the bird table through the living room window instead of getting ready for school.

I was fascinated by the sheer variety of birds and the hierarchy that was unfolding before my very eyes. 

    The coal tits gave way to blue and great tits. They, in turn, gave way to greenfinches and the occasional brambling, but the master of the peanuts was the aggressive nuthatch, with its stubby, dagger-like bill. Dunnocks preferred to remain anonymous, skulking around the hedgerow bottoms, whereas robins and blackbirds hopped along the ground picking at the scattered remains of the peanutfest that unfolded amongst the branches overhead. 

    I remember the unbridled joy of a five-year-old when a great spotted woodpecker and flocks of canary-like siskin...

    Read more about Iolo's birdwatch

  3. Winter warmers

    Thursday 23 January 2014, 16:27

     Nick Baker Nick Baker Naturalist and presenter

    My question for you today is: 

    Can you guess which animals these winter warmers belong to?

    Send me your answers using the Comments button below, or via Facebook or Twitter.

    Join me on Winterwatch Unsprung at 10pm on Red Button and online to find out the correct answers.

     

    A. Golden eagle

    A

    B. Eider duck

    B

    C. Stoats in ermine

    C

    D. Martin Hughes Games!

    D
  4. Insect insights

    Thursday 23 January 2014, 09:46

    Kate Lewthwaite Kate Lewthwaite Phenology expert

    We’ve already received sightings of ladybirds and butterflies. We want people to record more sightings of butterflies, such as peacock, red admiral and small tortoiseshell over the coming weeks and months, as well as invertebrates like ladybirds, queen wasps and bumblebees.

    People may be surprised to see such spring-like activity in January but Woodland Trust data confirms that it has become increasingly common over the last decade or so, and is consistent with a long-term trend that suggests spring is advancing earlier.

    Although the average date for the first sighting of ladybirds tends to...

    Read more about Insect insights

  5. Living with urban fox populations

    Wednesday 22 January 2014, 19:30

    Dr Bryony Tolhurst Dr Bryony Tolhurst Research scientist

    If you’ve ever woken up to a fox calling in the night it will probably have been during the winter: this is the time when foxes are most vocal.

    Researchers have reported around 20 different sounds made by foxes (including eight distinct cub calls), and most of these occur commonly between December and February. Foxes are establishing breeding territories in the winter as they need to attract and keep mates and defend their patch against potential intruders.

    Urban Fox Diary: Part 2 Tracking Brighton's urban fox population

    This is not conjecture – scientists have recorded a higher frequency of aggressive (e.g. screams...

    Read more about Living with urban fox populations

  6. Nutty gnawers

    Wednesday 22 January 2014, 16:57

     Nick Baker Nick Baker Naturalist and presenter

    Do you know which animals have been gnawing my nuts?

    Send in your answers using the Comments button below, or using Facebook or Twitter.

     

    A.

    A

    B.

    B

    C.

    C

    D.

    D D

     

    Answers:

    A. Dormouse
    Dormouse

     

    B. Wood mouse

    Wood mouse

    C. Vole

    Vole

    D. 

    Red squirrel
  7. Wet-weather lovers

    Wednesday 22 January 2014, 16:51

    Kate Lewthwaite Kate Lewthwaite Phenology expert

    Early sightings of so many species conform to a long-term trend in which spring has gradually arrived earlier in the UK. We need people to record what they are seeing so scientists can see how the changing climate is affecting our wildlife and species and how they might be adapting.

    We want people to look out for the first frogspawn they see, the first newts and - a little later in the season - the first tadpoles.

    So far in 2014, there have not been any frogspawn sightings in the UK recorded via Nature's Calendar, which is quite surprising given the mild conditions, so please keep your eyes peeled...

    Read more about Wet-weather lovers

  8. Large predator reintroduction

    Tuesday 21 January 2014, 20:09

    Tim Scoones Tim Scoones Excecutive Producer Springwatch

    On Tuesday night's Winterwatch we showed a film that painted a picture of what the UK may have been like when it was covered in ancient forest, including the presence of large predators such as lynx, wolf and bears.

    These large predators are long gone... though here at Mar Lodge there were wolves as recently as the 17th Century.

    Some people talk about bringing them back, and some European countries have run pilot studies to do just that.

    We know that this idea always prompts an interesting debate among our audience, so do use the Comments button below to let us know what you think. 

    Could - or should - we re-introduce any of our ancient woodland large predators back to the UK?

    As ever, we ask you to please respect the opinions of others.

    Read more about Large predator reintroduction

  9. Deer management

    Tuesday 21 January 2014, 19:42

    Tim Scoones Tim Scoones Excecutive Producer Springwatch

    As you may have seen in Tuesday night’s show, Scotland’s Caledonian pine forests would require intense regeneration if damage that has happened over a number of years is to be redressed.   The fact that this can involve intervention via deer culling means that this can be an emotive issue.

    The presence of large numbers of deer and livestock can impact heavily on sapling regeneration.  Landowners are being asked to look at alternative ways of managing their woodlands.

    To bring deer numbers down to a level where saplings are able to survive, Deer Management Groups take on the responsibility...

    Read more about Deer management

  10. Early bloomers

    Tuesday 21 January 2014, 18:46

    Kate Lewthwaite Kate Lewthwaite Phenology expert

    Nature is continuing to respond to the mild weather with records of trees coming into bud burst and snowdrops and hazel flowering.

    The early sightings of flowering species conform to a long term trend of spring gradually arriving earlier in the UK, highlighted by data recorded on Nature’s Calendar since 2001. Over the last 25 years flowers have bloomed up to 12 days earlier than previously.

    Catkins - Deborah Rigden Catkins by Deborah Rigden

    So far we have records from members of the public of snowdrops, lesser celandine and hazel in flower, along with elder trees in bud burst and hawthorn coming into leaf.

    Did...

    Read more about Early bloomers

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