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Date: 16.10.2012Last updated: 16.10.2012 at 13.15

Category: BBC Two

Autumnwatch returns in an exciting new format, designed to capture the very best wildlife action of autumn. Broadcast live for four days in late October, Autumnwatch will be followed by brand new live series, Winterwatch, for four days in in January.

Each will be a major live event on BBC Two. Both will be based at a new location in Scotland at the heart of the season's wildlife action, and will showcase the beauty and drama of these dynamic and diverse seasons.

Autumnwatch 2012

Tuesday 30th October to Friday 2nd November on BBC Two

Across four days, Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games follow the stories of the UK's wildlife in autumn from an exciting new location at this critical time for most animals. The series will capture all the beauty, drama and spectacle of the season and, for the first time, track the action in real time on a network of live cameras, as animals prepare for their toughest time of year.

Autumnwatch will showcase the beauty of the UK's wild places, reveal new science and never filmed before behaviour, and give fresh insight into some of the nation's best loved animals.

Autumnwatch will react to stories as they happen, and report on the latest wildlife news from across the country. The series will be a truly multiplatform, 24 hour event, streaming wildlife action live on the web and on The Red Button. This year, Autumnwatch aims to be more interactive than ever, inspiring everyone to share their stories, photos and videos, and get outdoors to enjoy the season for themselves.

Aigas Field Centre

Autumnwatch has a beautiful new home this year: Aigas Field Centre in the breathtaking Scottish Highlands, one of the finest areas in the country to experience autumn wildlife. Nestled in a wooded glen and surrounded by dramatic mountains, Aigas is home to some of the UK’s most iconic animals, from highland specialists to familiar garden birds. In the forest, there are red squirrels, pine martens, red deer and crested tits. Birds of prey cruise over the moorland, while foxes and small mammals hunt in the undergrowth, and a loch is home to a family of beavers.

Autumnwatch will use cutting edge technology to track animals 24 hours a day. Many mammals are only active at night, so infra-red and thermal cameras will provide a unique insight into their rarely-glimpsed nocturnal lives. The latest macro camera technology will reveal the fascinating, hidden worlds of tiny creatures that normally go unnoticed. And our network of live mini cameras will follow all of the key species onsite.

Highlights include:

  • Beavers - for the first time in the UK, Autumnwatch aims to show exclusive, intimate views from a live camera inside a beaver’s lodge as they prepare for winter
  • Pine martens - these secretive and little known creatures are notoriously elusive but Autumnwatch will have a privileged opportunity to see them up close
  • Mammal stump - back by popular demand: the mammal stump is a hollowed out tree trunk with embedded cameras and offers a unique perspective on the dramatic lives of small mammals
  • Buzzards, red squirrels and foxes. In autumn all these species employ different feeding strategies as they prepare for winter. Scavenging, hoarding or stealing - we’ll be following their every move

The best of Autumn wildlife

Michaela, Chris, Martin and Iolo Williams will be out and about, exploring the most exciting autumnal wildlife stories as they unfold.

  • Michaela will keep viewers up to date with all the wildlife action from the network of live cameras, meeting local experts to find out more about the animal characters
  • Chris will be unravelling the intricate web of life in an ancient Caledonian pine forest, home to crossbills, capercaille and red deer. And after a summer of record-breaking wet weather Chris will report on the wildlife winners and losers following these unprecedented conditions
  • Martin will be on the hunt for the UK’s most iconic species, from kayaking with migrating salmon to camping out overnight tracking down elusive wild beavers
  • Iolo heads to the Western Isles on his toughest challenge yet, a mission to film a golden eagle family hunting, something never filmed before in the UK

Fascinating UK wildlife stories

Autumnwatch will also cover seasonal stories from around the UK, uncovering the latest science of the wild animals that we think we know, showing their autumnal behaviour in a whole new light:

  • Hedgehog numbers have dropped over 90% since the 1950s but that’s hard to believe in Duncan Richardson’s garden! He has up to 17 of these nocturnal creatures visiting every night and cameras capturing their every move. Martin joins Duncan for the autumn ‘weigh-in’ where we’ll discover which hedgehogs are fit enough to survive hibernation
  • Ever wondered why your home begins to fill with house spiders in autumn? This annual invasion is explained in an exquisite mini-drama, revealing the dangerous journey, physical feats, and fights to the death undertaken by male House Spiders on a quest to find a mate
  • In autumn, grey squirrels stockpile nuts which they’ll come back to in the lean winter months. Scientists at Exeter University have been studying this behaviour, and we’ll be revealing a tale of trickery, deceit and outright theft from other squirrels to ensure they have a good supply of food

The Red Deer of Rum

An in-depth diary strand offers an exclusive insight into one of the UK’s most iconic sights of autumn, the red deer rut. But this year, there’s a new twist.

The remote and beautiful Scottish island of Rum is the arena for the UK's most explosive wildlife event. During the annual red deer rut, the stags battle it out for the right to mate. But for the first time in a generation, the deer scientists have no idea which stag will rise to power. The old guard of dominant stags have all disappeared, and for the new contenders, there's everything to fight for. Across the four days of Autumnwatch, we follow the stories of individual stags as they battle for dominance, in what promises to be the most dramatic rut ever seen. The stakes couldn't be higher – the winner will get the right to mate. The loser may lose his life.

Seasonal spectacles

Autumnwatch will capture the beauty and spectacle of autumn as it unfolds:

  • The Wash estuary - where sky, sea and mudflats meld creating a vast space, and a unique opportunity. In autumn, it hosts the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of wading birds like Knot and Oystercatchers, who come here from all over Europe to feed
  • A celebration of autumn colours in Kent, in a place that not long ago was transformed from a coal black industrial wasteland and is now a wildlife haven for a riot of autumn activity
  • Cameraman Richard Taylor-Jones finds himself among more than a thousand grey seals as they come ashore to give birth in a rapidly growing colony at Blakeney point in Norfolk
  • Autumnwatch captures the magic of migration as tens of thousands of geese and swans arrive from the Arctic north to escape the winter

Autumnwatch Unsprung

Friday 2nd November 9.30pm on BBC2

The effervescent and interactive sister show, Autumnwatch Unsprung makes a welcome return, hosted by Martin Hughes Games, and inspired by the viewers. There will be questions, photos and videos sent in by viewers, and some surprise wildlife visitors in the studio!

Interactive and live 24/7

Even before Autumnwatch is on air on BBC Two, viewers can watch the wildlife at Aigas on live cameras which are running 24/7 from Sunday 28th October to Friday 2nd November.  

The wildlife footage will be streamed online, on tablets, smartphones and on the Red Button, and it’s accompanied by running commentary from guest experts.

As ever there’s plenty of opportunity for audiences to get involved:

CM2

Autumnwatch 2012

Autumnwatch returns - plus the BBC announces Winterwatch for early 2013

Autumnwatch 2012

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