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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.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Martin, Chris, Michaela and of course Bill :)

    Welcome back for a start Bill

    My question is -

    Can the same species of bird have a different flight pattern?

    I have seen a couple of sparrows recently and both are flying differently. One of them flies in a bobbing/dipping motion, whilst the other flies straight - almost like a sparrowhawk!

    Any ideas?

    Julia x

  • Comment number 2.

    Forgot to put my favourite Autumnwatch Unsprung moment.

    This has to be when Iolo was in and the photo of "Sweetpea" the cat was shown stroking him on the TV! I had to laugh at that point as my own cat (Lucie - now RIP) always used to do that whenever Martin was on lol.

    Julia x

  • Comment number 3.

    Welcome back, Bill! I for one am looking forward very much to watching you on Autumnwatch once again! The Greater Spotted Woodpeckers have arrived in my local park during this year, they seem to be becoming more common all over now. Is this trend likely to continue? - Regards, Tony.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Autumnwatch Team,

    I was wondering what are the cues used by animals that change the colour of their fur/plumage in Winter? Is it something like day length or temperature, or a combination of factors? I'd imagine it could be pretty disasterous if they get it wrong, as they would stick out like a sore thumb, so would be more likely to be predated or to be spotted whilst hunting. Also, if climate change does mean we will see less snow, will this disadvantage animals who do change their coat colour?



  • Comment number 5.

    Yes missed you Bill and your knowledge about birds.
    My question is what is happening to the greenfinch I have not seen one this year plenty of goldfinch.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hello Bill, Chris, Martin, Michaela and the fabulous off-screen team :)
    I have a question for Level-headed Jo...
    What is her favourite location to watch wildlife and why?
    Actually, can all of the team answer that one?
    Love the show.
    Best regards Jad

  • Comment number 7.

    Welcome back Bill, you have been truly missed.

  • Comment number 8.

    well its freat to have you bach we have all missed you what id like to ask is when did the dodo stop flying and was it as big as the grandma albatross and did grandma ever come back to buttons thank you bill hope ya back for good

  • Comment number 9.

    I would like to purchase a bird box which has a camera installed, which is the best wired or wireless and where is the best place to find such a thing

  • Comment number 10.

    Three cheers, Odd Billie is back. Too bad only for one program.

  • Comment number 11.

    My question...Why dont we see Black Swans at wetland centres eg,slimbridge or on our lakes? Are they rare? There is only 1 Black Swan on my neighbours lake,its the only one ive ever seen in years and years anywhere.

  • Comment number 12.

    Welcome back Bill, we shall be delighted to see you again!

    My question is - what should I do about my wire fat ball container to make sure no virus is passed on from a great tit with a growth under its chin that is a regular visitor?
    If the growth is an infection/virus and blue tits, sparrows, starlings and a robin are visiting, will they become infected? Should I remove the feeder or will just washing it be sufficient to protect other birds?

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Bill,

    Just wonder can you tell us which is the largest bird is it a Nightingale or would a Brittern be louder?
    Ralph Walker

  • Comment number 14.

    Welcome back Bill,

    I read some time ago that you could tell which blackbirds in your garden were resident and which were winter migrants by the look of their eye rings in Spring. Is this true and how can you tell? I haven't been able to find any information about this on the internet.

    many thanks


  • Comment number 15.

    My question for Bill is;

    After reading of your health problems, how the devil are you?

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi, my question is, What measures does he think needs to be put in place to boost raptor numbers in the Uk and protect them from persecution.

  • Comment number 17.

    Geese when migrating have been reported flying as high as 20000-30000 feet. How do they manage this? If we were that high we would need additional oxygen to stop us falling unconscious!

  • Comment number 18.

    I Have been watching a male fox on the recreation just across from the road from my house. He appears to be following something on the ground, moving with it every now and again he puts his nose to the ground, then starts again. He does this in lots of different places on the field. What can he be looking for/finding?

    He is very aware of the cars going by, he stops what he is doing and on one occasion moved to the shadow of a tree when two cars went past. If someone walks past he also stops and waits. I have been unable to get a picture or video as he only seems to come closer to the road when I haven't got my camera sorted!

  • Comment number 19.

    Hello All,
    How can you tell the difference between a wood pigeon, a feral pigeon, a rock dove and a stock dove?

  • Comment number 20.

    Welcome back Bill. Come and see Langley Country Park, South Buckinghamshire when you have a spare moment. It's not bad for birding and wildlife watching and I would be more than happy to show you around.

  • Comment number 21.

    So, so pleased the lovely grumpy old Bill is back. Hope we can see him more often.

  • Comment number 22.

    Really good to see Bill back.....we've missed you!

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Bill, great to see you again. I know Kingfishers have a favourite perch to fish from during the day, but where do they sleep at night. Thanks, Stevie Smith

  • Comment number 24.

    Welcome Back Bill, it is good to see you. Before you left Springwatch I sent you an old book about a rescued blind jackdaw. Did you receive it. Also, I haven't seen any blackbirds in the North East for months. Could there be a reason for this please?

  • Comment number 25.

    I have just walked around a lake and saw a pair of Great Crested Grebes doing their dance, is this unusual for this time of year? I thought that they only did this in the spring.

  • Comment number 26.

    About the Black Swans We get them quite regularly at Poole in Dorset every winter, also there are many at Dawlish in Devon but they are probably clipped.
    Welcome back to Bill hope you are feeling better.

  • Comment number 27.

    Nice to see you back Bill and I hope you are well, you have been missed. Thankyou for supporting the gibbons and badgers.
    I also am worried about the greenfinches. There are none. I think it is the disease Trichysomething, that's got them and the sparrows are suffering too. Is there anything we can do? I am keeping the bird table and feeders as clean as poss.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Bill,
    A question for you: Many birds, plants and animals have been confused as to whether it is Autumn, Summer or Spring. Do you think that the opportunistic behaviour of them all, means that "Nature" will not suffer as much with "climate change" as humans will? Are we just slower to react?

  • Comment number 29.

    Question for the birder on the couch.........anyone seen a Great Grey Shrike yet,such a flashy bird, we have had one for a few years now just up the road near the Elveden memorial always have a quick look on the way to Thetford.
    A big welcome back to the Couch for Mr Oddie , will be great to see you again Sir.
    Looking foreward to it no end, just hasn't been the same without you mate.

  • Comment number 30.

    Welcome back Bill!
    I have a couple of Robins who visit my garden and they aren't afraid to get close to me if I have some suet sprinkles for them. I've heard of other people getting close to Robins and even having them eat out of their hand. Are Robins the bravest or most friendliest of the garden birds?

  • Comment number 31.

    there is a young lad on springwatch who cant come here would like to know what is bills favorite mammal/bird could you answer this for him thank you he would be happy

  • Comment number 32.

    Big welcome from me Bill and I hope you are well. I know you have been involved in lots of causes this year but I'll look forward to seeing you on Friday hopefully talking about birds. Please can you do an ID on waders. Please producers can we have Bill doing a regular birding spot.

  • Comment number 33.

    Welcome back Bill, Hope you are well,You have been missed.

  • Comment number 34.

    Great to see you back, Bill. It's not been the same without you.

  • Comment number 35.

    What do you think the future for U.K wildlife is when there is so much development of new residential areas going on - even in Greenbelt areas?

  • Comment number 36.

    Lovely to see you back Bill. Missed you.

    Just lately the birds have stopped coming to my bird feeders. Do you know why this could be?

  • Comment number 37.

    Sir Oddie of William - it's great to see you back and I hope you're back to full health. Couple of questions for you....
    1) Have you missed being on Spring/Autumnwatch for the last few years?
    2)You're an extremely keen birder/twitcher (apologies if I've branded you incorrectly) but is there any UK bird whether common or a rarity which has ever eluded you or has taken years for you to see?

    I've been a birder on and off for 40 years but I only got to see my first ever Snipe, 3 weeks ago at Slimbridge, thanks to a young chap who pointed out 2 to me and my girlfriend.

  • Comment number 38.

    A question for Bill - or maybe Bill and Chris combined.

    I live under one of the main approach routes to Edinburgh Airport when the wind is from the west (the prevailing wind). The planes are heading mainly North at that stage before circling round over the Firth of Forth to line up for the runway. Also during the migration periods flocks of geese fly over my house as well. I am fascinated watching a large skein when they seem to use their collective intelligence as to which way to fly making slight changes which they seem to agree on, and all that happens in a very orderly manner and without breaking the steady speed of their flight. But on three occasions now over the last few years I have observed a skein flying along quite normally and then panic seems to set in - they dissolve into disarray, their wing-flap-rate increases, the noise increases, and initially there is no agreement at all on which direction to go but they end up heading off at roughly 90 degrees from their original pattern. Then, by the time they are disappearing, a plane appears and flies exactly where they were in the opposite direction that they had been flying in. Had they not moved there might have been a sort of 'head on collision'. So my question is do geese have some kind of long range sensors that have alerted them to the approaching plane, because when they first panicked and flew off to the side the plane would still have been quite a few miles away. Or is it extremely good eyesight, as the planes have usually switched their landing lights on by that time, though the sun is often behind them

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Autumwatch team,

    Great to see you Bill!

    My question is: My husband and I often go out on walks along the coast, could Bill recommend a good coastal wildlife guide book?

    Thanks Autumwatch


  • Comment number 40.

    Hi Folks,

    Nice easy question for you Bill. We have a bird bath that is well visited and used for drinking and bathing. Which is better for the birds rain water or tap water?

    A' the best,


  • Comment number 41.

    hi bill a few weeks ago chris was on about birds that nest all year round the barn owl pigeon dove and the blackbird is this true.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Bill, Good to see you back.
    My question is this; Do birds burp? especially birds that big things and then spit out pellets?
    Tracie S

  • Comment number 43.

    So good to have you back on Autumn Watch Bill. Why does the male blackbird in our back yard seem to be singing inside himself. He seems unflappable as I bang and get on with potting up etc. whilst this wonderful 'sub song' varied and musical emits from him. He doesn't even open his beak! but he's so close to me I know it's coming from him?

  • Comment number 44.

    Bill, is it surreal to be a guest for the show? Especially with Kate not being there to greet you with a big warm hug?

    I have missed you so much!
    Lots love from all your fans in Frankley & Quinton, SW Birmingham.

  • Comment number 45.

    Welcome back Bill.

    Thanks for the Corvids on Unsprung a few weeks ago. The Raven has to be my favourite bird, and I've seen a couple recently in the Cotswolds - are they spreading south and east?

    I have a question about Carrion Crows. In East Central London where I live, I notice large groups of them congregating in the day in open spaces. Do they form flocks like Rooks, and where would they be roosting?

    A sinister note: there's loads of them around Shoreditch Park, next to the old Gainsborough Studios building where Alfred Hitchcock made his first films, and where there's a large bronze bust of Hitchcock. The Birds!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    With all the mass sightings of Woodpigeon please tell me where they are all going.

  • Comment number 47.

    It's lovely to see you on screen again Bill!

    My mum has limited mobility & can only walk short distances and unable to manage steep inclines but would love to see Puffins in the wild.
    Can you recommend anywhere on the British coast that I could take her to so she could see them?

    Many Thanks

  • Comment number 48.

    Hi Autumn watch,
    Today while driving at the edge of Savernake Forest in Wiltshire at about 4:00 pm we saw a large number of birds circling. On closer examination we realised that we were watching at least 25 red kites! We have started to see increasing numbers of kites in this area but never in such numbers - why would they be circling together as a group in this way?

  • Comment number 49.

    Hi Bill and the team. How long can a Golden Eagles wings grow up to?

    Thanks Lorcan age 7

  • Comment number 50.

    Great to see you back Bill.
    I would like to ask the team, is there a certain wind speed that birds can just glide rather than having to keep flapping their wings? I often get the wind direction from the birds pointing through the wind when I am out sailing my dinghy.
    Quite a lot of Goldfinches, Lapwing and Snow Bunting at Rattray Head this week, aka Strathbeg.

  • Comment number 51.

    For several years, I have been adopted by a male collard dove. He has been coming up to me in the garden, or sitting on the shed roof, looking in the kitchen window to be fed. He usually brings his latest lady friend as well. Some times he dissappeared for several days and once, he came back with his throat badly torn.
    How long do they live please, as I have not seen him for several weeks now. His lady friend looked in at the kitchen window, as if to ask my help!
    I miss him very much!

  • Comment number 52.

    ive seen a flock of thirty to forty blue tits in my small garden is this normal

  • Comment number 53.

    Hi Bill,
    Did you ever see any Bewicks on your first local patch at Bartley Res? And do you miss birding the old concrete sided birding mecca!? Even if it still is mostly birdless most of the time!
    Good to see you back..

  • Comment number 54.

    Dear Springwatch Team,
    In late Spring my friend and I were on a walk and we saw a movement in some water near the path, we watched to see what it was an were surprised to find two Blue Tits fighting, the Blue tit who was on top pushed and held the other one under and actually drowned it.

    My question is, is it normal for Blue tits to kill each other in fights, let alone drown each other?

    Thank you!

  • Comment number 55.

    Since grey seal pups are weaned quickly after birth, do they then spend much time in the sea with their mothers, learning to hunt? If not, it must be a very vulnerable time for the young.

  • Comment number 56.

    I posted a question on the message board about shivering in warm blooded animals which perhaps I should have posted here, instead. Do any other animals besides humans shiver to keep warm? Have the team any experience of this, please?

  • Comment number 57.

    Welcome back Bill, you've been missed. I met you and had a photo taken with you in a hide at Rutland Water this year on the 22nd July which was my birthday! It made a lovely day watching Ospreys even more special! I'll upload the photo to Flickr page

  • Comment number 58.

    Welcome back Bill. Form a Bury lad to a Rochdale lad both of us in the londinium are does thee fancy a pint soon

    Neil Long

    Loughton Essex

  • Comment number 59.

    It will be great to see you again bill good old fashioned humour at last

    Ray & gloria

  • Comment number 60.

    Hi Bill It's Great you have returned. 1) did you get to see the Nightjars of Dorset 2) Have you achieved the impossible & got out Bird Watching before the Dog Walker & Finally We have the Book but when will we have the DVD Birding With Bill Oddie, Please put us out of our misery!

  • Comment number 61.

    It will be great to see you again Bill

  • Comment number 62.

    Bill you are absolutely AMAZING!!! Just wanted to ask, how many species of birds have you now seen in Britain!!!
    Ronan (aged 13)

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi Bill, quick question...

    Do plastic fake bird predators actually deter birds, such as plastic Herons..?

    From June in Leicester...

  • Comment number 64.

    P.s WELCOME BACK!!! :D

  • Comment number 65.

    Hi Bill,

    FANTASTIC to see you back, on AW.

    Can I please ask the question :

    Is it ok to partly tame wild birds for the purpose of feeding, such as Robins becoming tame and coming to the hand for meal worms ? ? ? or do you advise against it ? ? ?

    Thanks you.

    Marcus Rheade-Edwards

  • Comment number 66.

    Hi Bill, Nice to have you back.
    In the opening pictures is one of a bat catching a spider. How does the bat distinguish a spider in a web from other flora like grasses, twigs, etc?

  • Comment number 67.

    Welcome back Bill!...about choughing time!!

  • Comment number 68.

    Hi there, we've had a lot of fun watching a gang of juvenile sparrows bullying both blackbirds and wood pigeons out of the birdbath. Is this normal behaviour?

  • Comment number 69.

    Hi Bill!
    Can birds see in colour and who has the worst eyesight?

  • Comment number 70.

    No question for you Bill, but we think you are Birding Brilliant. So good to see you again, we have really missed you. Tony & Louise

  • Comment number 71.

    Bill, There is a small pond on Hampstead Heath near Wildwood Road and I noticed about 5 or 6 nicely coloured ducks of a type I have not seen before. There are basically a reddish brown (fox colour or slightly darker) and dark blue with dash of white. What type of ducks are they likely to be ? They seem very happy there anyway splashing around and washing in the pond.

  • Comment number 72.

    My question for Bill is: Are greenfinch numbers declining? We used to have some visiting our garden, but we haven't noticed any for a few years now.

  • Comment number 73.

    we live in rutland and have a sparrowhawk that visits the garden after the tits feeding on our feeders, there are also a number of buzzards and red kites in the area. Is there anything we can do for the raptors in the harsh winter months ahead. cheers savmaster from freeby

  • Comment number 74.

    Big kiss for Bill! one favorite birding destination?

  • Comment number 75.

    Welcome back Bill, you're a birdwatching inspiration!
    Quick question, how common is it for goldfinches and greenfinches to interbreed? We had one a few years back . Are they persecuted by the others? Ours always seemed a bit of a loner and didn't seem to breed itself.
    Cheers JackieG X

  • Comment number 76.

    QUESTION FOR BILL: What colour is a Magellanic Oystercatcher's eye ring? Is it A) Red. B) Yellow or C) Orange?

  • Comment number 77.

    How often, if ever, do you disagree with Chris on ornothological matters?

    Thank you,

    M. Feldman

  • Comment number 78.

    a fox took two of my hens last night, i now shut up the hen house at night, how long will the fox be about?, will my cats be safe?, will my hens be safe out in the day time?

  • Comment number 79.

    Hi Bill
    We have nuthatches that regularly visit our garden and bird feeders here in rural Oxfordshire. Can you tell me why they feed upside down??

    Thank you


  • Comment number 80.

    Question for both Bill and Chris. Do you think our most vilified vermin the Brown Rat (rattus norvegicus) will ever shed this reputation? both Bill and Chris pointed out that they are incredibly successful at exploiting our environment and fancy rats make great pets. Do you think their bad press is ever justified?

  • Comment number 81.

    No particular question at the moment, just wanted to say that it's lovely to see Bill back. Our little daughter Alex used to ask why Bill was always talking about "Hamster Teeth"? It took a while, but we realised she had misunderstood him talking about "Hamstead Heath". x

  • Comment number 82.

    Hi Bill, Martin, Michaela, and Chris,

    A question: I have a frog in my pond who is always there! Every afternoon he pokes his or her head out of the water to see what's going on, and stays there until dark, then retreats back to the botom of the pond.
    My concern is that he is getting thinner by the day! Shouldn't he be hibernating by now? I ask because I had 3 others like this and they have now dissappeared for the winter..I know it's relatively mild, and pretty dry, so little food around, but will he die in the cold..? I'm worried, as this frog has no chance of surviving the winter if it were to hibernate in it's present state/

    What to do..? What will happen please.


  • Comment number 83.

    Hi all,

    Is it true that if released within a mile of your house, a mouse can navigate back? If so, how? Is it celestial navigation?

    Many thanks
    Kirsty from Lisburn northern ireland

  • Comment number 84.

    What has happened to the Kestrels? They used to be so common along the side of the roads, but since the re-introduction of the Buzzard, I have not seen one since over the past 4 - 5 years? Is this another imbalance created buy mans intervention?

  • Comment number 85.

    Grreat to see Bill at Slimbridge as well as the rest of the team ... I Love Slimbridge its been such an excititement to see the show broadcast from here also Sir David Attenborough visiting this week ... please please return and broadcast from here again next year

  • Comment number 86.

    Good to see you Bill.
    Why do ospreys fly to UK to breed if food is plentiful in Senegal.
    Likewise why don't Bewicke swans and waxwings breed here ?

  • Comment number 87.

    This evening Bill told us of his five top *****! What about the rat? We are over run with the blighters!

  • Comment number 88.

    where have all the garden birds gone

  • Comment number 89.

    Hi Why do most raptors invariably have yellow legs?

  • Comment number 90.

    Do badgers predate on hedgehogs?

  • Comment number 91.

    Hi Bill, good to see you back.
    We visit Kingsbury Water Park in Warwicshire and last week saw a Kingfisher, do they migrate, thanks Angie and Steve

  • Comment number 92.

    Bill & Team

    I have been walking the dog late at night and heard a strange hissing sound which started some three to four weeks ago on my route. Having asked the local farmer he initially did not know what it might be however last weekend I was told that Barn Owls were nesting in an old tree. I saw an adult in a tree last sunday whom promptly flew off when i switched the torch on for a better view. We have a lot of tawny owls and have seen barn owls and little owls in the area in the past as we are very rural. Is it really likely that their is a pair of barn owls that have bred so late or is the hissing sound not chicks? if they are chicks what do you think the chances of survival is being so late in the year?

  • Comment number 93.

    Question for bill, some time ago in hour village we had a flock of field fairs which stayed around for a log time during this time one of the field fairs looked as if it had a damaged wing, it stayed around the bird table feeding until it recovered but the flock stayed around.
    the question is were they waiting for that bird to recover be for they moved on
    Ray & Glor

  • Comment number 94.

    Why is it that Osprays migrate and Buzzards and Red Kites don't?

  • Comment number 95.

    hi Martin,chris,michaela and of course bill

    my question is- what other rare species have you sen migrating this autumn?

  • Comment number 96.

    1st just got to say great to see Bill back,oddly enough you"ve been greatly missed.

    Why do Goldfinch seem to be on the increase when other types of finches ie chaffinch and greenfinch are on the decline

  • Comment number 97.

    It's made my week to see BO back on Autumnwatch.
    My question - why are the tips of many seabirds dipped in ink - what is the biological advantage of black tips wings?

  • Comment number 98.

    Dear Bill,
    Great to see you again in autumnwatch! I have the following question. Could you explain why wood pigeons from Germany would travel via Great Britain to France and Spain, it seems to me that would cost a lot of extra energy.

    Best regards, Erwin Roze
    The Netherlands

  • Comment number 99.

    Welcome back bill
    My question is
    I was Bolingbrook a chicken egg the other day and wondered at what kind of water pressure would an egg fail and crack.

  • Comment number 100.

    Hi Bill,
    My aunt feeds black sunflower seeds to the birds in her garden. A magpie has been taking sunflower seeds from the hanging feeder by hovering in front of it, taking a seed and flying off to eat it then coming back to hover again.How unusual is this?


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