BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.


Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
BBC Radio 4 - 92 to 94 FM and 198 Long WaveListen to Digital Radio, Digital TV and OnlineListen on Digital Radio, Digital TV and Online

PROGRAMME FINDER:
Programmes
Podcasts
Schedule
Presenters
PROGRAMME GENRES:
News
Drama
Comedy
Science
Religion|Ethics
History
Factual
Messageboards
Radio 4 Tickets
Radio 4 Help

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

Science
THE LIVING WORLD
MISSED A PROGRAMME?
Go to the Listen Again page
PROGRAMME INFO
Sunday 06:35-07:00
The Living World is a gentle weekend natural history programme, presented by Lionel Kelleway, which aims to broadcast the best, most intimate encounters with British wildlife.
nhuradio@bbc.co.uk
LISTEN AGAINListen 25min
Listen to 31 December
PRESENTER
LIONEL KELLEWAY
Lionel Kelleway
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Sunday 31 December 2006
Lionel Kelleway and Ray Woods outside the disused mill. (c) BBC
A close up of a Wren in nesting in a bird box.  (c) BBC

THE MILL IN WINTER

Lionel Kelleway visits a dear old friend, botanist Ray Woods, in his home in Wales for this edition of the LIVING WORLD. The house was once a water mill, and the stream which turned the wheel still tumbles down the side of the house.

Ray often compares life in his ivy covered, sunken home as very much like living in an ancient Oak – and you can understand why, when he and Lionel explore the house for signs of wildlife, and discover woodworm, spiders, beetles and fungi which you might just as easily find living on or around the old oaks in Ray’s garden.

Their quest begins in the garden – where the oak is riddled with tiny holes. Here in the wild woodworm, the larvae (or grubs) of wood-boring beetles, do little harm but in Ray’s house, they are the cause of wobbly chairs as the grubs bore their way though the wooden legs! The larvae are able to feed on wood owing to the presence of a fungus in their guts which helps digest the wood and release nutrients to the woodworm, as well as detoxifying unpalatable tannins in the wood. The woodworm do little harm to the house timbers, as fortunately for Ray his home was built using very thick timbers of hard heart wood, and the woodworm make little headway into such strong wood. They prefer soft wood.

The wildlife outside, moves inside, on logs (as in the case of spiders and beetles) or in the fur of his dogs and cat (as in the case of fleas), or, like the cockroaches, under the flaps of cardboard packing boxes. Ray has the dubious honour of hosting an incredible diversity of cockroaches which he’s discovered over the years as a result, he thinks, of importing them into his home in cardboard boxes he’s brought back from the corner shops and supermarkets!

Moving indoors, Ray and Lionel explore down the back of the kitchen sink for silver fish. Not a real fish of course but a very primitive insect which never grew wings. Once common in many of the old damp Welsh cottages, these are much less common today, but Lionel has a fondness for these creatures, recalling how he used to watch them scuttle across the bathroom floor at night when he was a child.

Ray also produces a Daddy-Long-Legs Spider which he explains may well take up residence in his Welsh cottage – as the spiders’ distribution spreads further north as a result of global warming as it likes mild winters. These spiders have very long legs and are formidable hunters, with a clever technique to outwit their predators – they make themselves invisible by rapidly shaking when hanging in their webs so creating a motion blurr. Because of their slim frame, they appear to disappear!
All this, and the tale of giant tapeworm, a wood rotting fungus and a glass of home-made sloe gin to see in the New Year!
Listen Live
Audio Help
DON'T MISS
Leading Edge
PREVIOUS PROGRAMMES
 Current programmes
 Previous programmes

Back to Latest Programme
Science, Nature & Environment Programmes
Current Programmes
Archived Programmes

News & Current Affairs | Arts & Drama | Comedy & Quizzes | Science | Religion & Ethics | History | Factual

Back to top


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy