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Archives for November 2011

Unsprung's All-Star nature tray quiz

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 20:29 UK time, Friday, 25 November 2011

Can you identify the mystery items that our special guests have brought in? Answers below please.

mystery item

 

mystery item

 

mystery item

 

Your ideas: Winterwatch and the Springwatch Christmas Special

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 20:14 UK time, Friday, 25 November 2011

Good news! For many years you've been asking us to fill the gap between Autumnwatch and Springwatch - and now we can announce that this winter we'll be doing just that. Not only will we have the usual festive Christmas special, we'll also be making a one-off special Winterwatch, to be shown around the end of February.

This will be great chance to show just how much there is to see, even in the depths of winter, and how our wildlife copes with this harshest season. Of course, if we have another cold winter it may well become another Snow Watch...

As always, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know your observations, stories and questions below for both the Christmas Special and Winterwatch. Soon we'll be asking for your photos and videos too. Spread the word - we know we can rely on you...

Autumnwatch: Ask the team a question

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 18:17 UK time, Friday, 25 November 2011

Tonight's show might be the last in the series, but we aim to go out in style with a Scottish spectacular - red deer, capercaillie, black and red grouse, spawning salmon, golden eagles and a lot more. If you've got a question about any of these species or about any of the subjects covered in the show post a comment below and Chris, Micheala and Martin will do their best to answer it tonight.

Autumn bird migration news: A round-up of the season

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Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) | 12:41 UK time, Friday, 25 November 2011

Each week Paul and Nick from the BTO are updating us on all the comings and goings of autumn's bird migration. We'd love to hear what you've been seeing too, whether in your garden or out and about.

Short-eared owl

Fifty short-eared owls were seen coming in off the sea at Titchwell, Norfolk, in October © Amy Lewis/BTO

With migration pretty much over, now is the time to reflect on what kind of autumn it has been. An autumn is often defined by the number of rare and scarce migrants that are found in the UK and as such this autumn will probably go down as one of the best ever.

Mid to late September saw two hurricanes sweep across the Atlantic, bringing North American waders and landbirds with them. A flock of 26 buff-breasted sandpipers gathered at Tacumshin, Wexford, on the 27th, whilst on the Isle of Scilly an early red-eyed vireo was joined by northern waterthrush, black and white warbler and Baltimore oriole.

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Dem bones

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Chris Packham Chris Packham | 22:31 UK time, Thursday, 24 November 2011

For us naturalists the most exciting things are the things we don't know, those that we have left to learn. Finding out something new is a lifelong joy.

For me one of the best bits of my job is meeting people who are more knowledgeable about a subject than me and who are keen to tell me all about it. Very often of course such knowledge comes from a lifetime of enthusiastic interest or study and thus my tutors are 'older' folk.

Chris Packham meets Jake

What a real treat it was to visit Jake this week. He is nine... nine and already brimming with real expertise in the field of bones and skulls and as a happy consequence I learned a lot. His bedroom is the perfect mix of skulls and Star Wars... we talked for hours!

It seems he enjoyed it too and you can read about our day on his blog: 'Today I was filmed for Autumnwatch'.

Editor's note: You can watch the film of when Chris met Jake on Autumnwatch, 8.30pm Friday 25 November on BBC Two.

Coming up on the final Unsprung of 2011

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 17:21 UK time, Thursday, 24 November 2011

It's our final show tomorrow! We can't believe how the time has flown. Team Unsprung are on the final home strait. We can't thank you enough for all the letters, emails, photos and videos.

Last Unsprung logo

We've got a spectacular show prepared for you. Get ready for an All-Star quiz, some feathery star...lets, some animal art and of course, as many of your questions, photos and videos as we can squeeze into our little half hour.

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Filming salmon spawning

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 16:44 UK time, Thursday, 24 November 2011

Guest post: Autumnwatch wildlife cameraman Lindsay McCrae blogs about 'one of the most amazing wildlife spectacles' he's ever seen in Britain.

A magnificent species of fish

After finishing filming for last week's show in Sheffield's urban maze, I was off to the Cairngorm National Park in the Scottish Highlands. Talk about a contrast!

In between the two shoots I had a rare opportunity to visit my beloved Lake Distrct in all its autumn glory. I'd arrived late on the Monday evening in the dark, so it wasn't until Tuesday that I could get out and see how 'my' wildlife was coping with this unseasonal warmer weather. A stunning view of a female hen harrier hunting and a couple of barn owls at roost in some gorgeous evening light were very welcome.

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Liz Bonnin investigates the Highland deer cull

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 22:28 UK time, Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Guest post: Autumnwatch guest presenter Liz Bonnin.

I was asked by Autumnwatch to look into one of the most controversial conservation issues in the UK today. The Forestry Commission Scotland has a 100 year plan to transform some of its managed forests in the Highlands into diverse, living woodlands - to do that one of the key actions it is taking is to cull the deer on its land. I accompanied Derick Macaskill on a trip out on to the hills. We weren't just going to get close to the deer... Derick's aim was to carry out a cull. After my time with him I went on to meet people whose lives and work are closely tied to this important issue.

red deer stag

Seeing the cull really brought home to me some of the tough decisions we have to make now because of our past mistakes. Of course, I know that there are many who won't approve of any animal being culled at all. The more I talked to the people here, however, the more I began to get a grasp of the complexities involved in dealing with such a contentious issue. It's easy perhaps for those of us living far away from this place to have strong views about the culling of red deer.

But what's clear is that the people here are very passionate about this land and its wildlife, and certainly have a great understanding of what it takes to maintain a healthy thriving ecosystem, because they live it every day and have seen firsthand what happens when one piece of the food web is out of balance.

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Autumnwatch Unsprung round-up week seven

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 11:23 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Hope you all enjoyed Unsprung on Friday. It was so nice for all of us to have Bill back and I hope you all loved having him on too. If you missed the show you can still catch up on iPlayer.

For me one of the highlights of the show, and for that matter the whole series, had to be the stunning starling footage. It was filmed on the Shannon River in Ireland by Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith. (Watch their longer version of the encounter here.) Starling roosts and murmurations like this have to be one of the great wildlife spectacles in the country and this is the perfect time to see them.

We've started a discussion on where to see starlings so you can share your experiences and locations with each other, so please do get involved. This week we'd love to see your starling photos so add your murmuration photos on photo group discussion. Please let us know where they were taken and it would also be fun to hear if you think you can see anything in the images. There's no doubting Dorset Birder's shot (above), taken on Saturday in Weymouth, is quite clearly a mushroom. Or how about this one taken by Numanarchist over Leighton Moss near Lancaster, of starlings doing a rather convincing Loch Ness Monster.

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Autumnwatch webcams: Slimbridge transmission and interview times

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 08:43 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Autumnwatch webcams from Slimbridge are available on the web and on Red Button. On the web, they run from 10am to 4.30pm each day (apart from Fridays when they start at 2pm and run until 11pm). On Red Button different platforms have different times, so here they are:

Autumnwatch webcam times on Red Button

In addition to the live pictures we're also running a series of interviews by naturalist and broadcaster Chris Sperring. Chris is speaking to experts from Slimbridge and beyond to discover the natural history of the Bewick's swans, of the other species at the centre and of the estuary itself as autumn turns to winter. Tune in for some fascinating analysis.

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Mild autumn, second spring?

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 19:34 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

Guest post: Matthew Oates, the National Trust Naturalist-in-Residence, reports on the repercussions for our wildlife of November's record-breaking mild weather. Have a read then tell us what you've been seeing where you are. Even better, if you have a photo post it on our photo group.

Never has spring promised so much only for summer to produce so little! Trees and bushes rushed ahead of themselves in an ecstatic spring, then burnt out prematurely during a dire summer. So autumn came early, and as a welcome relief - but delivered big time. It's been an incredibly long and deeply interesting autumn.

The weather improved when the schools went back, giving a great start to September. A gale blew in from the west on the 6-7th. The month then oscillated a bit before ending on a real high: a heat-wave raged from 28th Sept to 3rd October, producing the warmest October day ever.

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Unsprung quiz - 10 November

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 14:56 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

If you can work out the species from these puzzles, post your answers below.

We'll give you a little helping hand... the first one is peregrine.

quiz example

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Wildlife at work

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Holly Spearing Holly Spearing | 13:23 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

Here at Autumnwatch Towers, I work in an open plan office and for much of the day I'm glued to my computer, wading through an ever expanding email inbox, and generally helping sort out whatever it takes to get Autumnwatch Live on the air every Friday night. But if I look up and out of the window across the office, I can see a glimpse of a different world. Now the leaves have almost fallen, the shard-like towers of the 1970s Catholic Cathedral have been revealed through the bare branches of the trees outside. And atop these towers, a couple of specks.

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New in town? What to do with alien species

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 13:10 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

Guest post: What to do with alien species, asks Urban ecologist Ian D Rotherham.

Ian Rotherham and Chris Packham

Ian with Chris Packham looking at the ecology of a Sheffield river

Impacts of invasive alien plants and animals can pose serious threats to nature conservation on scales similar in severity and significance to human-induced climate change. Once isolated faunas and floras of islands have been decimated, globalising world ecology with ecosystems erased by European colonisation.

Environmental disruption (industrialisation, intensive farming, urbanisation and climate change) mean species that are unable to adapt decline dramatically, while those able to exploit changes spread globally - the stuff of nature conservation nightmares.

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Ask osprey expert Roy Dennis a question

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 12:27 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

Roy Dennis

Roy Dennis © Emyr Evans/MWT

If you've been enjoying Roy Dennis's fabulous osprey films following the three chicks from Dyfi in mid-Wales on their first epic migration to West Africa you'll be pleased to know that he's one of our guests on tonight's show. And he's ready to answer your questions. If there's anything you'd like to know about ospreys, Roy's your man, so post your question below.

Watch Roy's final two osprey films on Autumnwatch, 8.30pm Friday 18 November, BBC Two.

Awesome autumn starling spectacles!

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 10:14 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

Many of you have been reporting seeing huge starling murmurations already this year. For the unitiated, murmurations are when flocks of starlings come together around dusk wheeling and turning to create amazing shapes across the early evening sky.

It looks like the weather this weekend will provide the right conditions for this behaviour so we've got together a list of the best places to spot murmurations this autumn.

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Autumn bird migration news: Many summer visitors still here

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Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) | 17:57 UK time, Thursday, 17 November 2011

Each week Paul and Nick from the BTO are updating us on all the comings and goings of autumn's bird migration. We'd love to hear what you've been seeing too, whether in your garden or out and about.

Barnacle goose

Low temperatures in the east have prompted large movement of barnacle geese © Jill Pakenham/BTO

With high pressure still dominant on the near Continent and the continuing southerly airflow, the weather conditions are essentially unchanged from last week. However, the temperature in eastern and northern Europe has begun to drop, triggering a large movement of white-fronted, tundra bean and barnacle geese. Skeins of these highly migratory waterbirds have been seen in a number of counties, with numerous records from inland sites as well as a more predictable glut of sightings at coastal locations.

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Iolo's whale-watching in Ireland

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:32 UK time, Thursday, 17 November 2011

Guest post: Autumnwatch guest presenter Iolo Williams on the humbling experience of filming fin whales.

fin whale in sunset

“Iolo, we want you to go in search of fin whales,” said the lovely lady from Autumnwatch, “off the Irish coast, in November.”

Now I’d already made two visits to Ireland earlier in the year and out of ten days nine had involved filming in either driving rain or strong winds, or a combination of both.

“Is that wise?” I asked tentatively. “Because the likelihood is that it will be wet and windy, the sea will be rough and grey, and we’ll see very little.”

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Autumnwatch webcams: Meet the stars of the (swancam) show

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 17:49 UK time, Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bewick's swans at Slimbridge

The swans' aggressive interactions as family groups jostle for position in the pecking order ©James Lees/WWT

Our webcams are back this Friday live from the Bewick’s swan lake at WWT Slimbridge. So why have we chosen the Bewick's? When we're deciding what species to focus the cameras on we have three criteria: concentration (can our remote pan-and-tilt cameras capture the action?), spectacle (does the subject matter look great?) and character (can we follow individual's stories?). The Bewick's tick all three of these.

Okay, so we can't film their amazing migration from Russia, but once they've arrived at Slimbridge we have them! They spend most of their day in an area not much bigger than a football pitch. Our cameras will be there to follow their every move. And spectacle? Once we're live, we'll let you be the judge of that.

But for these swans the biggest sell and the reason we're so excited about them is the individual stories we can tell. Thanks to 40 years of research by the WWT we already know the life story of many of them. Some of the families are long established dynasties and have been coming back to the lake in the Rushy Pen for an amazing 50 years. What's more, we can identify each individual by the pattern of yellow and black on its bill.

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Coming up on Unsprung: Bill is Back!

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 11:52 UK time, Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bill Oddie

So, yes, the rumours are true... Bill is back. We're delighted to say that Sir Oddie of Birding will be joining us for this week’s Unsprung. If you’ve got any questions for Bill then post them here and we’ll try to get through as many as possible in the show.

What else is coming up this week? Well we’ll be wrapping up our search for the UK’s biggest house spider, ever, so this is your last chance to get your photos in. We’ll be challenging Chris with some more poo which you have so very kindly sent us in the post. (A little warning on the outside of the packet might be nice in the future!) There’ll also be some great info about where to see starling roosts: one of our finest and most wonderful autumn spectacles.

As the series draw to end, just two more shows to go, it would be great to hear what was your favourite Unsprung moment? Again post your thoughts here.

Another big thanks to everyone who’s got involved in the show so far and please keep all your questions, photos and videos coming.

Gavin Boyland is the Producer of Autumnwatch Unsprung. Watch Bill's film all about getting more out of nature if you're online.

Autumnwatch Unsprung round-up week six

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 16:35 UK time, Monday, 14 November 2011

Week six! How time flies. We hope you enjoyed last week's show. If you missed it you can watch Unsprung on BBC iPlayer here.

Let's start with one of the best bits of last week's show. Here's what we've been calling the montage of glory...

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Your ladybird questions answered

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 16:20 UK time, Saturday, 12 November 2011

We've been aware that tons of you have been asking about ladybirds. It's at this time of year, as autumn draws on, that suddenly we're seeing huge number congregating and invading our homes. Also a lot of you will be aware of, and have been asking about, the harlequin ladybird, a recent invading species, and how that's doing.

We'll, I took your question and posed them to Dr Remy Poland, a leading ladybird expert and Biology teacher at Clifton College in Bristol.

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If you interest in helping out with the survey here's the link to the Harlequin Ladybird Survey.

I hope the video's answered your questions.

Gavin Boyland is the Producer of Autumnwatch Unsprung

Unsprung ye olde English quiz

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 18:30 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011

Can you identify the animals that these old English and regional names refer to? (Without using Google!!!!) Answers below please.

a) Mouldywarp
b) Sea Pie
c) Broc
d) Yaffle

Your marine life questions

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 18:17 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011

The UK's coastline and seas are full of spectacular wildlife: whales, dolphins, shark and many, many seabirds. Some of it's easy to spot, some very hard indeed. So if any of it's a mystery to you, post a question here and Chris, Michaela, Martin and Iolo will do their best to answer it during tonight's show.

Autumnwatch mystery sound quiz

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 17:47 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011

On tonight's show, the team introduces a mystery sound. If you think you know what it is, post your answer here. It's one of the toughest quizzes we've ever done... so good luck!

Autumn bird migration news: Waxwings, finches and skylarks

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Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) | 14:53 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011

Each week Paul and Nick from the BTO are updating us on all the comings and goings of autumn's bird migration. We'd love to hear what you've been seeing too, whether in your garden or out and about.

starling roost

Starlings are on the move, so we'll soon see more of these spectacular sights © Jill Pakenham

It’s been a week of ups and downs. During the early part the winds had once again turned westerly and slowed migration down, and any movements involved small numbers of birds. After the weekend of easterlies waxwings continued to arrive. Around one hundred birds have now been seen on the east coast from Shetland to Kent.

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Friendly foxes and your fox questions

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Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 10:05 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

When... perhaps that should be if... I am reincarnated I want to come back as a fox - what fabulous creatures they are. This week I went to meet our Springwatch "friendly family" of foxes down at Pitsea Landfill in Essex.

Things have changed for the family as you will see on Friday's Autumnwatch. But what an amazing experience to stand right beside a family of four foxes - literally feet away - ignoring me and going about their foxy business.

I think one of the wonderful things about foxes is that, although they often live right in amongst us, they never seem to lose their essential wildness. If you have an observations about the foxes near you, or any fox-related questions we'd love to hear from you. We're hoping to have a fox section in Unsprung and your input would make it much richer. Thank you!

Why hedgehogs are in trouble and what you can do to help

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 09:37 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

Guest post: The usual advice when dealing with wildlife is leave well alone. In the case of hedgehogs, however, and especially at this time of the year, rules are there to be broken, and here's why, says Pauhla Whitaker from the Help A Hedgehog Hospital in Gloucestershire.

hedgehog in bluebells

If we don't help our hedgehogs, they could be gone by 2020 © Julien Crowther

This is the time we start to see autumn juveniles out and about. These are young hedgehogs from the second litter of the season and if they are small then they are in real trouble. Annie Parfitt, manager at our hospital, recommends that hedgehogs should weight at least 600g or more in order to survive hibernation. Any lighter than that and they will not have the fat reserves to get them through winter and death is a certainty. The tragedy is we are seeing more and more underweight hogs later in the season.

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Autumnwatch webcams: The drama of swan lake

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 22:56 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bewick's swan

One of Slimbridge's Bewick's swans © Chris Sperring

The Autumnwatch Live webcams are back and this time we're taking a look into the lives of an altogether different animal. From 2pm Friday 18 November live both on the web and on Red Button, Badgercam gives way to... Swancam.

We're turning our attention to and focusing our cameras on the smallest and rarest of the swans found in the British Isles, the Bewick's swan.

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Coming up on Unsprung: Ask Iolo a question

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 16:26 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hi Everyone,

The week draws on and in a blink of an eye it will be Friday again, which I'm sure you're all looking forward to with baited breath. We're busy as unusual here in Unsprung corner. There's stills lots to organise for this weeks show but I think you're really going to enjoy the results!

Iolo Williams

Iolo Williams heads out in search of fin whales for Autumnwatch this week.

So what have we got? Well, our favourite Welsh wildlife hero Iolo Williams will be joining us in the studio. Iolo is this week's guest presenter, and as I write he's off in search of fin whales, one of the most ambitious Autumnwatch shoots ever attempted. So fingers crossed you'll be seeing these glorious animals, the second largest whale on the planet, in this week's show.

It would be great to get your questions for Iolo, whether they're about his filming this week, or his other adventures. Also we'd love to get a question or two for him in Welsh, so all you Welsh speakers out there get your thinking caps on and post them below.

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Autumnwatch behind the scenes: Running the show

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 12:56 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Guest post: Nicola Merrett, Autumnwatch's runner and assistant floor manager, on why her job involves everything from carving pumpkin faces to bizarre arm movements.

The Autumnwatch runner team

Me (second left) with the other Autumnwatch runners, Becky Hathway and Richie Dobson

I am a professional runner. Power, agility, endurance - you're no doubt concocting a visual feast: focused and determined eyes set beneath a brow beaded with sweat, adrenaline-rich blood pumping through prominent veins and the visible contours of sculpted muscles within a lycra ensemble.

Trade the muscular physique for a personable nature, the actual act of running for a vigorous power-walk, and the lycra hot-pants for full-length thermals (plus several more layers of clothing), and you'll be closer to the reality.

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Calling all wildlife organisations: BBC Things To Do is here to help

Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 13:19 UK time, Tuesday, 8 November 2011

children playing in trees

Every week at the end of Autumnwatch Unsprung we’ve been featuring a selection of nature activities from all over the UK. All these great activities (and many more) are selected from the BBC’s Things To Do website.

The Things To Do team would like us to help spread the word. So if you have a wildlife activity in the near future you’d like the BBC to help promote, you could be in luck.

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Autumnwatch Unsprung round-up week five

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 17:01 UK time, Monday, 7 November 2011

We're over half way! We hope you enjoyed last week's show - we certainly did. If you missed it you can watch Unsprung on BBC iPlayer here.

Doesn't our new location look stunning? Here's a shot researcher Sam took during our rehearsals on the night of the first Slimbridge show.

Swans lit up on a lake at Slimbridge

Behind the scenes at our new WWT location.

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Unsprung stained glass quiz

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 13:36 UK time, Friday, 4 November 2011

Can you identify which wildfowl these are. A clue: they can all be found at Slimbridge. Answers below please.

unsprung quiz item a

A)

unsprung quiz item b

B)

unsprung quiz item c

C)

Your migration questions and observations

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 13:34 UK time, Friday, 4 November 2011

Autumn bird migration's reaching a climax right now, so if there's anything you'd like to know about it please comment below and Chris, Michaela and Martin will try to answer live on the show tonight.

Also have you seen anything amazing or unusual about migrating birds this autumn? Again, the team would love to hear so post a comment below too.

Autumn bird migration news: Still plenty to come

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Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) Nick Moran & Paul Stancliffe (BTO) | 22:06 UK time, Thursday, 3 November 2011

Each week Paul and Nick from the BTO are updating us on all the comings and goings of autumn's bird migration. We'd love to hear what you've been seeing too, whether in your garden or out and about.

waxwings on a tree

The first waxwings are here © John Harding/BTO

As the migration of our summer visitors comes to a close, it's easy to think that autumn migration also comes to a close. Nothing could be further from the truth. Migration watchers in early November can be rewarded with some of the most spectacular bird migrations of the year.

At this time of the year migration is very much influenced by the weather in northern and eastern Europe, with temperature all important.

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2,880 minutes on Islay...

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:10 UK time, Thursday, 3 November 2011

Guest post: Autumnwatch Producer Stuart Derrick was on the Scottish island of Islay filming for Autumnwatch earlier this week. For him it's a place of 'wild wonder and glory'.

Bowmore in Islay

The beautiful Bowmore Bay

The fourth and final Autumnwatch show from Westonbirt National Arboretum was good. It was a great way to say goodbye to the glorious colour and splendour of Westonbirt and move onto our next live location Slimbridge just in time for the spectacle of our feathered friends arriving in their masses.

One of the beauties of live television is that once the show has finished, that's it. Nothing more can be done, your time is up. All that effort from the whole team is condensed into an hour of TV and that particular part of the series is complete. And as soon as that last second has ticked and the director in the gallery has announced 'we're now off air', you move on to the next part of the series.

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Damned Autumnwatch

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Chris Packham Chris Packham | 11:38 UK time, Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Damned were one of the first punk bands I saw live back in 1977. It was an extraordinary gig with Captain Sensible, Dave Vanian, Brian James and Rat Scabies living up to their imaginative names with a loud rollercoaster of songs and theatrical antics. Whilst Vanian has remained true to his 'Elvis Vampire' stage persona the Captain has entertained me over the years clad in a tutu, pink fur and nothing at all.

Every Damned show I've ever seen (and there have been many) has been hugely enjoyable, often a cabaret of lunacy set to one of the most exciting set of songs ever played. I've been lucky enough to meet the band several times over the years and jolly nice blokes they are too, not something that be said of all my punk rock idols!

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Coming up on Unsprung 4 November

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 17:36 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Richard Taylor-Jones

Richard Taylor-Jones, Unsprung's special guest this week

Friday is rapidly approaching so I thought I’d give you a quick heads-up of what to look forward to on this week’s Unsprung. As ever we’ve got a packed show, with loads of your questions, comments and photos. We’ll also be featuring some of your particularly fascinating and rather hilarious wildlife home movies.

I’m also delighted to say that guest presenter for the week Richard Taylor-Jones will be joining Chris, Michaela and Martin on the Unsprung sofa. Richard has made some delightful films about a mysterious group of seals in Kent, his neck of the woods. If you’ve got any questions for Richard (or for the rest of the team) about seals then post them here.

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Springwatch Christmas Special: Chris's Christmas Grotto

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:28 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Have you always wanted to challenge Chris and test his wildlife knowledge? Well the Springwatch Christmas Special team would like to give you a chance to get involved.

We're looking for viewers of all ages to present Chris in his Christmas Grotto with curious, unusual or potentially unidentifiable objects. So if you think you have the perfect feather, bone, tooth or tracking mark to put Chris to the test we would love to hear from you.

Please do get in touch with the team via email with your item idea for your chance to challenge Chris this Christmas.

Your top tips for wildlife watching in Sheffield

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 09:41 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Wildlife isn't confined to the countryside - many animals thrive in our towns and cities. Autumnwatch is heading to Sheffield, one of our greenest cities to discover how creatures adapt to the urban jungle.

Do you live or work in Sheffield? We'd love your top tips on where to watch wildlife in the city. Have you seen deer in the centre of town, otters near the shopping mall, or simply spotted something interesting in your local park or garden? Please let us know by posting a comment below.

Update 14 November: Wow! Thank you for your amazing response. Really, really helpful. We've finished filming there now, so watch Friday's show to see Sheffield's amazing wildlife.

Autumnwatch Unsprung round-up week four: Spiders, fungi, frogs and bugs!

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 11:15 UK time, Tuesday, 1 November 2011

We hope you enjoyed last week's Unsprung. If you missed it you can catch up on the BBC iPlayer here. We pack so much in every week that if you blink (or nip out to put the kettle on) you can easily miss something. So here's a round up of last week's show.

We had a spooky quiz this week in the form of a skulls spectacular. If you want to have a go at it, go to the Unsprung quiz.

Lots of you had reported seeing birds nesting now which seems unusually late. Big Chris saw swallows on the nest on 8 October, Jane Rees saw a pair of magpies building a nest two weeks ago and Jim Mercer fillmed some young ducklings last week.

Our Chris explained that some species such as collar doves, blackbirds and barn owls do breed in every month of the year and Pauline from Secret World brought in an extraordinary find: an orphaned young barn owl that was rescued in Somerset.

Orphaned barn owl on Unsprung week 4

An orphaned barn owl visited the show from Secret World

Pauline was putting out a request for any other young barn owls in captivity that might join this orphan to help their release. Since the show Pauline has been in touch to let us know that she may indeed have found another owl to help with her orphan's release. Tune in to next week's show for the latest update.

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Secret seals of the south-east

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 11:08 UK time, Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Guest post: Autumnwatch guest presenter and Adventure Team producer Richard Taylor-Jones is on the trail of one of Britain's least known seal populations, which live in some of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

seal pup

Astonishingly, this summer a young common seal pup was washed up on the beach

I grew up in the small seaside town of Deal in Kent. As a child I would spend hours on the beach, but never once did I see a seal. Not in a million picnics did one ever make an appearance.

Imagine my surprise, when on moving back to my childhood home two years ago, I saw a seal swim past the front window of my seafront house. Then, even more astonishingly, this summer a young common seal pup was washed up on the beach. It seemed that seals were breeding here too.

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