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Week three: Liz Bonnin's tales from the edge...

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Roger Webb Roger Webb | 16:01 UK time, Monday, 23 May 2011

For our third week, Liz Bonnin joins the Springwatch Adventure Team to explore a rather strange and surprising world.

Prepare to be intrigued and amazed by the world at the edges of our human landscape, the places we like to forget about - the apparently empty docklands, the industrial "waste grounds", the seemingly dreary railway embankments and more. Intriguingly, these places provide wildlife with a unique opportunity to survive very close to us, creating a living landscape where humans and nature co-exist in close proximity, often unbeknownst to us.

Liz Bonnin

Liz Bonnin will be exploring the strange world of the places we like to forget

What species live here? Why do they live here? How do they manage to survive here? Our Adventure Team explore these questions from a very unusual wildlife hotspot - one of the south-east's biggest landfill sites. It's an "edgeland" of massive proportions and astonishing biodiversity. It's home to lizards, hares, stoats, rooks, badgers, snakes and butterflies, not to mention the thousands of gulls... and much, much more.

Another surprising wildlife haven the team will be exploring is the micro world of Canvey Wick. An abandoned oil refinery, it's one of our richest insect habitats.

The "edgelands" of our world are truly surprising places to find wildlife in such abundance. Springwatch will reveal just how many wild creatures make a living right amongst us.

Update 13 June: The contrast of Liz's location with our main home at Ynys-hir couldn't be more pronounced, as this photo (courtesy of cameraman Ian Llewellyn) shows.

Pitsea landfill site

Roger Webb is the Series Producer of Springwatch, which starts 8pm Monday 30 May, BBC Two


  • Comment number 1.

    I recently finished a project for my photography degree exploring the idea of 'edgelands', this episode would have Probably made interesting research material!

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm really looking forward to this. Country and suburban residents often oppose any development whatsoever of greenbelt land in their area on the grounds that there is plenty of "brownfield wasteland" on which such development can take place. We have already heard on this series of Springwatch how lacking in wildlife large tracts of the agricultural industry land which makes up much of the greenbelt is. It'll be nice to see how rich and diverse in biodiversity the land on which they wish to build to protect their sterile greenness is in comparison.

  • Comment number 3.

    Really looking forward to this episode of Springwatch.

  • Comment number 4.

    Sometimes we cant see through a rubbish dump and into a wildlife rich world beyond.

  • Comment number 5.

    What a brilliant idea!! Especially rewarding for all we millions of city dwellers I suspect. I have long wanted to visit Messing, travelling down river on one of the wonderful (and well-named, with a collection of "R_ _ " names such as "Reclaim" and "Redoubt") refuse barges (particularly living where we do, rubbish seems to follow us around - and these sturdy barges are so much friendlier to the environment (and quieter!!) than are the seemingly constant, deafeningly-noisy refuse lorries (which operate outside our flat pretty much all day, everyday - and often well into the night too ..!). Although it's sadly (and incredibly ... especially given all the months of waiting, till it was almost even officially summertime!) ALREADY the last week of this year's SW, I'm now looking forward to the final few shows even more. Thanks everybody - and thanks also for mentioning the NHM Bug Count and posting the link to the survey on SW's front web page. Best regards, TB.

    PS - Any chance of the team commenting on the likely effects of the wholesale death of fish in the Thames following the recent downpours which - coming after such a long spell of dry weather - led to yet another fall-out from London's sewers? Also - and not unrelated - some discussion would be much appreciated on the likely impact on wildlife of the record dry spring in many areas (which, as so often happens, seems to have been good for some creatures and plants and bad for others - but which must surely have thus also caused some imbalances in the food chain etc, which will presumably also feed (!) into breeding patterns, food supplies etc in future years). Oh what a complex web of life ..!

    PPS - Any further "Spring-Off" programmes planned?? I'm sure that you've got more than enough material, from this spring alone - and certainly enough demand! - for future such shows ..!

    Thanks again, TB.

  • Comment number 6.

    Why not use land waste/rubbish to reclaim the coast taken by the sea? The Japanese have done it and why don't we?

  • Comment number 7.

    Firstly can I suggest that the programme are renamed to
    " The Chris and Kate Show" or "The Kate and Chris Show"
    Regards land fill sites.
    Hopefully very soon we will recycle and or incinerate all our rubbish so that gulls that should be by the seas will return there and nature will return to a more normal balance of species.
    Meanwhile I will continue to feed my garden birds.
    Regards the flycatchers
    Have you considered that the cameras or electronics may have had a bearing on the nests failure.
    Thank you

  • Comment number 8.

    I was surprised to see this big rubbish dump or landfill. I didn't know that you still have that many in England. Here in Switzerland we don't have any since years. All our rubbish is being incinerated at waste incineration plants which produce electricity for a lot of households. Besides that we do a lot of recycling. Two of the old big rubbish dumps that became landfills are now dug up again at big costs so that all the toxic dump, which was for many years in the ground, be disposed of properly. Like written in post no. 7 I too hope for England that they soon start recycling and incinerating. We don't need those landfills to have a lot of birds and insects. I'm living in a large village and I have a lot of birds coming and also many insects. At the moment we have a lot of earwigs.
    Here at the biggest bird sanctuary they also tell us to feed birds only during winter time, not the rest of the year. It makes sense, there's enough food around for the birds now. They are used to find their own food. Only in winter time when there's lot of snow and often frozen it makes sense to feed them. I always get a lot of birds coming every day. Many of the birds you have in your gardens are the same we get here.
    We love to watch Springwatch and Autumnwatch. It's also very informative. Sadly I can't watch any videos on the Springwatch homepage as they aren't available here on my computer.
    I'm already looking forward to tonight's program.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have such a crush...

  • Comment number 10.

    why do councils differ so much in what they except for recycling?

  • Comment number 11.

    I live very near Pitsea and was fascinated to learn all about it. We are soon being supplied with buckets to put food waste in. This with surely affect the food supply for gulls and foxes etc;

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm really interested in this bit of the show, but I'd be interested to know how healthy the landfill site really is. Don't the foxes get cut noses or paws from rooting in mixed waste with tins/glass in it? And the reclaimed land looks lovely but isn't the groundwater contaminated with all the waste? And the burrowing animals presumably have to claw their way through all the old dangerous material, glass etc which is buried there.

    It just seems better to recycle/incinerate the waste and have wildlife reserves which are really pristine! SW, can you help?

  • Comment number 13.

    My mum want's to know :- How come the seagulls eat and have eaten so much "human rubbish" from landfill sites, why does their appearance not change? Like ours does if we eat "rubbish" - the seagulls seem to keep their perfect proportions, white feathers - (it's so unfair!!(

  • Comment number 14.

    Thank you Liz so much for presenting with the beautiful foxes this week - absolutely great!
    It really cheered me up as I've been unwell!

  • Comment number 15.

    Liz has proved to be the ultimate wildlife presenter, excellent scientific knowledge which she imparts with obvious enjoyment and utmost clarity. Excellent

  • Comment number 16.

    Great reports from Liz BUT why was background music added to the report by the specialist sound recordist of turtle doves - it completely drowned out the wildlife sound recording.

  • Comment number 17.

    i would agree with that (julesbalsier) - i was waiting for the music/speech to stop so we could hear the turtle doves - an oversight maybe?

  • Comment number 18.

    Well done Liz! I had not seen here often before, and never thought of her as a wildlife presenter.
    Maybe a replacement for Kate come AW? Those boys need someone too keep them in check! :)

  • Comment number 19.

    hi love the show loved to watch the foxes they are fab i feed six and now there are four pups they are very tame myself and my son and dog look forward to them every night and they konw me very well ive also got two badgers they all get on well the badgers love peanut butter and biscuits ive sent in pictures and also going to video them some people say you dont see badgers well ive got two sheena glasgow

  • Comment number 20.

    Your 'landfill' report has been my absolute favourite of this series. The mess we make needn't always have a negative outcome! Thank you so much.


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