Everything you need to know about Autumnwatch 2017

Autumnwatch is back!

The leaves are on the turn, the temperature is dropping and the nights are drawing in… it can mean only one thing – it’s time for a new series of Autumnwatch! The series returns to our screens in late October with a mix of friendly faces, familiar locations, and the best of the season from all over the UK

For the first time ever, Autumnwatch is returning to its Springwatch home - the National Trust’s Sherborne Park Estate. From here the team will update on some of the key characters from spring, and have cameras positioned at hotspots around the estate to pick up new and developing stories as they happen.

When is it on TV?

Autumnwatch starts at 8pm on Monday 23rd October. There will be four episodes, all on BBC Two.

Who are the presenters?

Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games will be based at Sherborne, and will explore how our British wildlife is coping with the onset of autumn across the UK. Meanwhile Gillian Burke will be live from England's south coast, getting to know a unique family of foxes in intimate detail.

Where will the team be based?

Autumnwatch returns to its year-long home in the heart of the Cotswold countryside, at the National Trust’s Sherborne Park Estate. The Estate was chosen as ‘the Watches’ first ever year-round location for the fantastic variety of habitats and wildlife to be found there, and because the mix of woodland, farmland and parkland (and the species that live in it), is an microcosm of the kind of British countryside that is accessible to most people in the UK.

What will Autumnwatch be focusing on at Sherborne?

Some of the characters making a return include the barn owl family, who were growing fast when we left them in June, but still a few weeks away from fledging. We will find out if all three chicks, including the runt, fledged successfully over the summer, and also go live to cameras still in the barn where the parents should still be in residence. High up in the village church our kestrel family also had a runt, so did their story end on a high note, or did they fall from grace?

Meanwhile, as the estate prepares for autumn, the camera team is busy setting up to capture some new characters. In the woods the fallow deer are coming into their rutting season, and amongst the trees we hope to get a glimpse of their frantic and spectacular world at this time of year.

As ever we will be on the trail of the ever-ellusive badgers, and in the village we have bugged some of the local gardens to watch the comings and goings as the wildlife makes the most of the autumn bounty.

Down on the Sherborne Brook, the trout are on their autumn migration, and we hope to catch them and some of the more surprising underwater life, such as lamprey and crayfish, with a brand-new infrared underwater rig, which may even capture the resident otters

All of that plus rabbit burrow cam, lesser horseshoe bat roosts, and a whole host of other species.

Cheltenham Avenue on the National Trust's Sherborne Estate in the Cotswolds. Image by National Trust / Mike Robinson.

And what about further afield?

While Chris, Michaela and Martin get to know Sherborne better, Gillian Burke will be live in Bournemouth to put our urban foxes to the test. With a fiendish experiment, designed with the University of Brighton, we will see how cunning these city slickers really are.

Meanwhile, over the summer the team has been hard at work, filming some fascinating stories and meeting awhile host of amazing animal, and human, characters.

Michaela joined the hordes of birdwatchers trying to catch a glimpse of some garishly colourful European bee-eaters, a surprise visitor to these shores this summer. Chris and Martin go head-to-head as they pit two Autumnal migrants against each other in our Swan vs. Goose feature and Gillian visits a farmer in Cornwall who is putting some beavers to work in an attempt try to control the flooding that has affected the local area in recent years.

With films about the adventures of a harvest mouse, the late-breeding willow emerald damselfly, a remarkable poetry walk at Westonbirt Arboretum and much, much more – Autumnwatch is the place to be for your seasonal wildlife fix.

How can I get involved?

As ever, Autumnwatch will be supported by a rich and varied online offering. Our website will be the hub of all that is going on – with behind-the-scenes clips, extra footage, blogs from the team and our partner organisations which delve deeper into the stories and science on the show, and with a wealth of information from across the UK.

Our social media channels will be buzzing as well – with the conservation continuing on Twitter and Facebook, and our Instagram and Flickr pages full of the best photography sent in by our viewers and from the team.

We will be Live on Facebook throughout the week, with resident expert Brett Westwood popping up to answer any questions, behind-the-scenes looks at the set and production, and a chance to interact directly with the presenting team.