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Shared Earth
Fridays 15.00 - 15.30
Shared Earth is a new series from the BBC Natural History Unit which celebrates the natural world and explores what we can all do to help conserve wildlife and habitats and reduce our footprint on the planet
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We're keen to hear your suggestions for future programmes via our Contact Us page or write to Shared Earth, BBC NHU Radio, Bristol BS8 2LR
Friday 16 November 2007
Listen to this programme in full
Dylan Winter and Steven Marsh-Smith wear polarising lenses to search for spawning salmon.
Dylan and Steven Marsh-Smith wear polarising lenses to hunt for spawning salmon.
The Brent Geese of Strangford Lough

Northern Ireland can’t claim too many wildlife exclusives so it’s no surprise that the Brent Geese of Strangford Lough have become a conservation icon for the province. At least 85% of the world population of Light-Bellied Brent Geese spend the Autumn and early Winter in the Lough, gorging on eel grass as they recover from one of the world’s toughest migrations. James Orr and Kendrew Colhoun of theWildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Castle Espie described how recent satellite tagging and visits to the Canadian Arctic are gradually revealing the secrets of the Brent’s summer life. The Light-Bellied Brent is one of the few species to make a transatlantic migration, setting off from Canada to cross the vast ice desert of the Greenland ice sheet before tackling the Atlantic itself. Kendrew is keen to get back to the Arctic to find out more about the physiological changes these geese have to make to survive such a marathon crossing.

Internal Migration

Migration isn’t a necessity for just the great long distance travellers like the Brent and the Swallow. Birdtrack, a constantly updated record of bird spottings around Britain and Ireland, is revealing the extent of migration within the UK. Familiar species like the Great Tit and the Wood Pigeon are increasingly travelling tens or even hundreds of miles in search of new territory. Mark Grantham of the British Trust for Ornithology is keen to find out more about the exact triggers for this migration.

Spawning Salmon

The absence of rainfall this Autumn is causing problems for another great traveller, the Salmon of the River Wye. At this time of year the Salmon rely on heavy rainfall to increase the volume in rivers, allowing them to leap obstacles to their progress from the sea to the upper reaches of the river. If the rain doesn’t come then they’re forced to build their nests, or redds, and lay their eggs in much more vulnerable locations. The Wye and Usk Foundation works hard at making the rivers more accessible to fish making their way upstream but without rainfall soon the Wye Salmon is set for a bad breeding season.

The Last Mysteries of the Eel

Until very recently most of our knowledge of the lifecycle of the eel came from sailors’ yarns rather than hard science. Today we know much more about their life in Europe’s freshwater but they’ve remained elusive beasts once they’re out at sea. We know that adult females leave our rivers en route for the Sargasso Sea in the Western Atlantic but live adults have never been caught there. Julian Metcalfe and his team at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science are determined to solve the last mysteries of the eel. Satellite tags and data recorders are now small enough to be attached to eels so Julian plans to use those to send back the secrets of just what they get up to in the Sargasso Sea.

World On the Move

This week’s Shared Earth has offered a tiny taste of the great stories to be told about the movement of animals in, out and around the UK. Early next year a major new series for BBC Radio Four will tell this story from a global perspective. Scientists, film makers, amateur naturalists and schoolchildren all around the world will be telling us about nature in motion as it passes their doorstep. From the Grey Whales of North America to the House Martens of West Africa, from the Monarch Butterfly of Mexico to the insects that visit your garden, World On the Move will be charting their progress and using our observations to tell the story of man’s relationship with nature.

A dedicated World On the Move website will be launched here very soon to tell you much more about the BBC’s exciting plans for nature in 2008.
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