Winterwatch: Celebrating the best of our winter wildlife
The sub-zero temperatures and snowy hills of the Brecon Beacons provide the perfect backdrop for Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games to reveal how the UK's wildlife is faring this winter. In a one-off, winter special the Springwatch and Autumnwatch team celebrate the best of our winter wildlife and discover how it survives through these harsh months.
Chris, Kate, Martin and friends have been out and about across the country, from freezing mountaintops, icy lakes and stormy seashores, to bring you the most dramatic and remarkable seasonal stories. They show that winter is far from dead and boring - in fact, it's a time of fascination, beauty and spectacle so they urge you to get out and see for yourself.
The mild winter weather followed by recent plummeting temperatures are setting a real challenge; the team find out how our plants and animals are adapted to the season and what we can do to help them through our most challenging season.
We might be feeling the cold, but for millions of birds from northern and eastern Europe our shores are positively tropical so vast flocks of waders and wildfowl migrate to Britain every winter. Chris and Martin visit the south coast to discover why so many birds find our estuaries irresistible and enjoy the stunning spectacles these winter gatherings provide.
Meanwhile, Michaela Strachan reports from South Africa, where millions of swallows have arrived from the UK and beyond to escape the northern winter altogether. Charlie Hamilton James finds out why otter cubs are around at this time of year and finds them in a rather unusual place whilst Kate heads to an idyllic Welsh river to enjoy great views of dippers. Maya Plass shows Martin that our coastline and beaches can be fascinating spots to explore in winter and helps to solve a curious marine mystery on a Devon beach.
The team also report on a surprising influx of owls, find out why the ptarmigan could be the UK's toughest bird and encourage everyone to listen to the dawn chorus in their garden at this time of year. As the very first glimmers of spring emerge, Chris looks at how certain plants are uniquely adapted to emerge early and capitalise on the first opportunities of spring's arrival. As always, the team answers viewers' questions, feature some of their spectacular wintry photos and provide some top tips on helping our wildlife at this time of year.
The team prove that, if you wrap up warm, there's plenty to see and do in our countryside this winter. If you know how - and where - to look, winter can be truly glorious... and spring is closer than you might think!
Winterwatch: Wednesday 22nd February 2012 at 9pm on BBC Two and the BBC HD channel.
Tim Scoones is the Executive Producer of Winterwatch