Rhythm of nature

The timing of nature’s events is a very fragile and delicate thing, and even the slightest of changes can have major knock-on effects. So with all this gubbins in his wheelbarrow Alan Titchmarsh is going to conduct an experiment. Does it really matter when spring arrives? Well, with a little help from some feathered friends that’s what I’m going to find out. have here the most sophisticated nest box known to man, or bird. In here the birds, and back there a camera. I’ve even got lights. They’ll have to be very theatrical birds to nest in here! Alan will be watching the birds as they come in and out of the hole in the nest box - Big Brother for birds! Its not long before the housemates move in, a pair of bluetits. And their task? To raise a family. Family planning for blue tits is a real challenge. Parents gamble on the best time to lay their eggs. Its vital that when they hatch there are plenty of juicy caterpillars to feed the chicks. And that means guessing when the fresh spring growth that will feed the caterpillars will first appear. The trouble is that as the onset of spring changes, many different birds are getting confused, getting their timings mixed up. Many chicks have starved and so there aren’t as many of these beautiful birds around. This is just one example of the food chain being disrupted. Changes to natures timing effect plants, the animals that eat them, and the animals that eat those animals. And in a woodland like this, there are literally hundreds of links in those chains. It’s a real house of cards. Fewer blue tits would mean less food for their predators so they too would struggle to eat enough. But thankfully, our housemates at least, got their timings spot on. They’ve successfully raised a family of eight healthy chicks. And they’re all now heading out into the big wide world. Even if some of them need a bit of extra encouragement.

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4 minutes

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