Ellie Harrison and Matt Baker are in Devon, where Ellie gets to witness a very special homecoming. She meets Joey - the lifelike horse puppet that features in the successful stage play, War Horse. Joey has come to Iddelsleigh - the small village that inspired the story - and Ellie is there to greet him. Ellie then heads to North Devon to find out how beavers are being used to help manage the last of the region's rare culm grassland.
Just a few miles away, Matt is deep in the woods at the start of a massive multi-million pound programme to regenerate some of the country's last tracts of pristine ancient woodland. Wildlife cameraman Richard Taylor Jones shows us the stars moving across the heavens with some amazing 'starlapse' photography.
Tom Heap asks whether the number of domestic cats in the UK is posing a threat to our wildlife. And down on Adam's farm it may be harvest time, but there are still animals to be looked after. So Adam has a seasonal stock take.
War Horse comes home
Deep in rural Devon lies Iddesleigh village, the very real place that inspired children’s author Michael Morpurgo to write his novel War Horse - a story about the traumatic events experienced by a horse called Joey who went to war. It was based on the experience of some eight million horses and mules during World War I, which has been turned into a play and, more recently, a film. Ellie Harrison is taking a tour around Iddesleigh with the National Theatre’s puppet horse Joey. She’s learning about the skills it takes to operate him and taking him to a farm to meet the horses which helped refine the technology behind the creation.
Matt explores Fingle Woods
Fingle Woods is a 334 hectare (825 acre) woodland nestled on the steep slopes of the Teign Valley, at the northern edge of the stunning Dartmoor National Park. For the first time in their histories the Woodland Trust and the National Trust have joined forces to purchase and regenerate this semi-ancient natural woodland. Matt Baker is given the honour of felling the first tree, marking the start of this £5 million, 60-year restoration project to remove conifers and allow light and life back into the woodland.
Tom and the killer cats
There are now around 10 million cats in homes across the UK. Tom Heap investigates claims that our feline friends’ passion for hunting birds and small animals is having a significant impact on British wildlife – especially when it comes to vulnerable species. Some believe that mandatory curfews for cats should now be brought in and that owners should do more to reduce their impact, such as fitting their collars with bells. But in the grand scheme of things are cats really doing as much damage as some people believe?
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Not far from Fingle Woods lies Bovey Valley, another gem of Devonian woodland and about 10 years ahead of Fingle in terms of management. Matt joins the Wildlife Hit Squad – a dynamic team of conservation trainees trying to improve the habitat for butterflies. He is also on the hunt for some of the team’s more laid-back workers, the Dartmoor ponies that improve the woodland in their own special way.
Adam, calves and fighting bulls
This week on his farm, Adam Henson makes sure his recently bought Gloucester Old Spot boar is settling into his new home. He also welcomes another new arrival, a calf born to one of his favourite Gloucester cows, before checking on the progress of Nevis - an unusual silver coloured Highland calf who is the son of Eric the Bull. Eric himself is normally pretty well-behaved, but recently he's been fighting and now has a sore lip for his troubles. And, if that is not enough to be getting on with, it is also the end of the harvest with Adam and his team gathering in the last of the oilseed crop.
Ellie and the busy beavers
Culm grassland is a unique habitat that developed in the south-west above a soft, sooty coal known locally as culm. It’s a rich and diverse landscape holding vast amounts of water, but it is tricky to manage and under threat from changing land use and encroaching scrub. Ellie is meeting the Devon Wildlife Trust who are working on a solution to the problem. A pair of captive-bred beavers are busily taking part in a scientific research project at a secret location. The aim is to see if they are effective at managing this rare and precious landscape. But can Ellie catch a glimpse of these elusive creatures at work?
|Series Producer||Teresa Bogan|