Image for 23/01/2011Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 1 hour

Julia Bradbury and Adam Henson head to Somerset to find out why the Quantock Hills were the first place in England to be declared an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Adam also lends a hand with the ponies that run wild on the hills while Julia witnesses one of winter's greatest wildlife spectacles - roosting starlings.

Meanwhile Matt Baker heads north to meet the farmer who is providing willow to feed hungry giraffes at Chester Zoo and James Wong gets the lowdown on how we produce one of our 'superfoods' - watercress.

John Craven asks why the cost of our weekly shop is at it's highest ever and meets those with real concerns about food security in the future.

Last on

Thu 3 Feb 2011 00:50 BBC One Northern Ireland only

See all previous episodes from Countryfile

  • Starlings Come Home To Roost

    Starlings Come Home To Roost

    This dramatic photograph of a starling murmuration captures the beautiful chaos at dusk in Somerset. It was taken by award-winning wildlife photographer and school dinner lady Lynne Newton. Julia Bradbury meets Lynne at the Avalon Marshes in the shadow of Glastobbury Tor where she witnesses this amazing spectacle for herself. Millions of starlings flock to the marshes to roost every winter. A flock like the one above is called a murmuration because it's a word that perfectly describes the rustle of thousands, sometimes millions of pairs of wings. Starling murmurations are one of the most dazzling displays in the natural world, as the flock changes shape, one minute like a colossal wisp of smoke, the next a tornado. Lynne has likened the shape of the murmuration in her picture to that of a bird's head and beak. Look closely and you'll see it for yourself. Watch Countryfile on Sunday, and you'll also see this amazing event on film.

    See a starling murmuration for yourself
  • Where You Can Watch a Starling Murmuration

    Where You Can Watch a Starling Murmuration

    If you want to witness this amazing spectacle for yourself, try one of these locations: Taunton, Aberystwyth, Gretna Green, Brighton and Eastbourne piers, Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, Whixall Moss in Oswestry, Leighton Moss in Lancashire, Fen Drayton Lakes in Cambridgeshire, Blacktoft Sands in East Yorkshire, Marazion Marsh in Cornwall, Minsmere in Suffolk, Titchwell Marsh in Norfolk or Newport Wetlands in Gwent.

    RSPB Reserve
  • Farmers of the Future

    Farmers of the Future

    Adam meets the farmers of the future at Rodway Farm. The farm is part of Bridgwater College in Bridgwater, Somerset and provides arable, pasture and conservation areas for learning. Over £1 million has recently been invested on re-developing the farm, as it seeks to reposition itself not only as one of the leading dairy farms in the region, but also as one of the leading providers of agricultural training and education. With 5am starts, twice-a-day milking, tractor driving lessons and rigorous classroom schedules, Adam learns this isn’t your average sixth form.

    Click here to learn more about Rodway Farm
  • Coleridge Country

    Coleridge Country

    From the ancient woods, pastures and heathlands of the Quantock Hills to the wildlife rich wetlands of the Levels, with breath-taking views that stretch as far as the eye can see, the county of Somerset has it all. Parts of this beautiful county provided inspiration to one of our greatest poets - Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Walking in his inspirational footsteps on the Coleridge Way, Julia Bradbury discovers how influential the environment was to his writing and to English literature as a whole. In the village of Nether Stowey she lends a hand as the National Trust revert his cottage (pictured above) from a museum to its original incarnation as his home.

    Click here for details of the Coleridge Way
  • Orphaned Otter Cubs

    Orphaned Otter Cubs

    This orphaned otter cub is one of many that have been helped by staff at the RSPCA's West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset. Adam pays them a visit to help out with two feisty otter cubs. He learns that they might look cute and cuddly but you have to be careful when handling them because they have a very nasty bite. The UK’s otter population was on the brink of extinction in 1970's and 1980's. Now, thanks to a rigorous clean-up of our waterways, the population is as healthy as ever.

    Learn about the work at West Hatch
  • Otters Fight Back

    Otters Fight Back

    The UK's Otter population is thriving thanks to river clean-ups and a ban on harmful toxic pesticides. It's one of the most significant conservation success stories in the last 30 years.

    Click here to learn how the otter population has recovered
  • Exmoor Ponies in the Quantocks

    The rugged beauty of the Quantocks needs managing to stop it getting out of hand and high on the Colethstone Hill heathland Adam meets up with the wild Exmoor ponies which help to keep the vegetation under control. They’re a tough breed, as Adam knows all too well. He has a small herd of his own Exmoor ponies on his farm in the Cotswolds.

    Wildlife in the Quantocks
  • A Tall Order

    A Tall Order

    Matt takes on the challenge of feeding giraffes at Chester Zoo. First though he has to harvest their food and meets farmer Huw Rowlands on the Cheshire Plain. Huw has been supplying the zoo with willow for four years. Giraffes love to eat the bark, the sap, the leaves and any buds but first Matt has to get their favourite snack up to a certain height so that they can dine in comfort!

    Click here for information about giraffes
  • Growing and Guarding Watercress

    Growing and Guarding Watercress

    James Wong meets a watercress farmer in Dorset who has a novel way of protecting his crop. Tim Jesty has employed a local falconer to fly his birds over the farm to scare away pigeons who can cause serious damage. With growing interest in its possible cancer fighting properties sales have escalated over the last five years. In the UK we now produce 90 tonnes of it every week for the domestic market.

    Watercress and cancer
  • Rising Food Costs and Food Security

    John Craven heads to the supermarket to investigate why the cost of food is at an all time high. He meets the Robinson family from Bristol whose weekly shop now costs them up to £140. John learns how food shortages abroad fuelled by drought, floods, population growth and emerging economies are driving up prices and putting a serious strain on future food reserves.

    The Cost of Food


Series Producer
Teresa Bogan
Adam Henson
Julia Bradbury
Matt Baker
James Wong Howe
Executive Producer
Andrew Thorman


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