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Autumnwatch: Ask Nick Baker a question

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 18:34 UK time, Thursday, 28 October 2010

The guest presenter for the 4 November show is experienced naturalist and broadcaster Nick Baker.

Nick is a familiar face on our screens having recently inspired us with Nick Baker's Weird Creatures on Five.

He is no stranger to the BBC having been a presenter on the Really Wild Show, Tomorrow's World and Watchout, co-presenting with our very own Chris Packham.

Nick and Chris, just last week...

The Autumnwatch team have set Nick a minibeast challenge in his local wood on Dartmoor. Equipped with a range of high-tech cameras, lenses and microphones, Nick and the team are going to be exploring life in the leaf litter of an oak woodland.

Ever wondered what minibeasts inhabit these layered miniture landscapes? Is there a difference between a springtail and a collembola? Post your questions for Nick below.

Nick on location

Nick’s obsession for local wildlife began at an early age with a fascinating collection of insects and spiders. He went on to Exeter University to study biology as well as taking extra credits in harmonica and singing with various bands on the local music scene.

His passion for all things bug-like led to him getting involved in a youth outreach programme taking bugs and other creeping critters into local schools and radio stations. And as they say, that is how it all began.

Watch Autumnwatch on Thursday 4 November to see Nick's adventure to the Dartmoor National Park. In the meantime, post your woodland questions for Nick below.


  • Comment number 1.

    What is Britains smallest bug?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Nick

    I have become really interested in insects and photographing them but I do have a problem identifying them sometimes. What do you to consider to be the best ID guide for UK insects?

    Thanks and happy bugging.


  • Comment number 3.

    is it true nick,that oak trees can not exist without parasitic gallwasps?

    love Wierd creatures!!!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    how do i make my garden filled with more birds. i have tryed everything i can think of.

    P.S. you are coming near my house, i ive in Ivybridge just south of dartmoor.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi nick, can you tell me do any butterflies stay in this county over winter? If so where and at what time do they do it? Cheers!

  • Comment number 6.

    My son came downstairs tonight to tell me that there was a huge wasp or bee on his window sill, it was at least 2inches long and had the same markings and colouring of a wasp. Do wasps get that big? many thanks

  • Comment number 7.

    Where can I get a decent 2 man mobile chair camera hide?

  • Comment number 8.

    where can I get a 2 man portable camera hide in london?

  • Comment number 9.

    Hiya nick! Whats your favourite animal?


  • Comment number 10.

    Dear Nick
    I have been feeding birds in my garden for years. But now the Sparrow Hawk's are taking Greenfinches Goldfinches Every day from my garden.I know the Sparrow Hawk's have to feed but how can I stop them from coming in to the garden so often? As there are two of them now since July an adult and a youngster
    Syd Cyclamen

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    I will try again ! I am not an expert with computers. My last posting was removed, I don't know why?
    I just stated that I live 15 miles east of Nottingham and have seen 2 small whie Egrets on our local river. just wondered if Egrets have been seen around this area. I have lived here for 33 years and this is the 1st. time I have seen them on our river.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi nick how are you
    just wanted to ask you how fast can a dragonfly move in the air
    many thank
    ryan mottram

  • Comment number 14.

    hi could you tell me why are geese called a flock when flying but called a gaggle when walking?

  • Comment number 15.

    I know we've all heard that bee populations have taken a tumble, but I've also noticed a few other insects seem to have "disappeared", certainly from the large populations there were a few years back.
    For example: Craneflies (Daddy long legs). I used to see dozens of these. If I dug in the soil I'd see three or four of their leatherjacket grubs at least. I haven't seen any for ages. Neither have i seen many of the adults this year or last. They were always getting into the house and flying horribly around. Where have they gone?
    Also Harvestmen, those long legged spindly insects like skinny spiders. At Autumn I'd see dozens of them. If I walked the dogs through the woods they would quite often pick one or two up on their coats. This year nothing?
    I wondered if this was a local problem (rural West Yorkshire) or that other people had noticed (or not!) that other creatures suddenly seemed to have virtually disappeared from their local haunts (not counting migrants of course)?
    Have you any theories? Please let me have your observations (or none observations) on the missing wee beasties.

  • Comment number 16.

    I saw what I think was a type of goose 6 weeks ago, it had brown rings around its eyes and the bird was all different shades of brown.
    I cannot find anywhere the name of this bird can you help?

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Nick,
    I keep an old tray full of rainwater in the garden which became home to two gorgeous frogs in the summer. They were still using it up until about a week ago when they finally disappeared when the weather turned cold. What I'd like to know is where do frogs go in the autumn/winter ie do they hibernate in the garden leaves/undergrowth or should I keep it topped up with water in the winter for them?

    Also, do I need to keep the water clean or do they prefer dirty rainwater to keep cool in?

    Best wishes
    Oonagh (Wimbledon)

  • Comment number 18.

    The horse chestnut trees around here (Bristol) already have 'sticky buds' even though this year's leaves have not fallen. Is this early? I seem to recall not seeing them till after Christmas in past years.

  • Comment number 19.

    Hey there Nick,

    Took this photo a while ago..


    In this encounter no bees or the wasp were actually stung and the bees could not eject the wasp, nor did they gang up on it in greater numbers,but they didn't let it get close to the grubs, is there an explanation for this tolerance of the wasp in the hive?

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Nick
    We walk regularly in Coed y Brenin, North Wales. Several times in late Autumn / Winter we have found clumps of a white translucent jelly, quite crystalline in appearance, with no noticeable smell. I have seen an investigation of this on the BBC Scotland website but results were inconclusive. Today we found some more but this was accompanied by clusters of small black egglike things, (like small caviar), there was also what looked like badger poop nearby. I have kept some in a jamjar to see if anything develops. I have photos that I can e-mail to you if needed.
    What is it?

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi Nick
    At the moment I'm cutting down a very large conifer tree and I think I've found a squirrel's nest.If I take out this nest will the squirrels re-nest at this time of year or should I wait until another time of year?


  • Comment number 22.

    A robin has successfully used ivy on our garden fence as a nesting spot for several years.My family take alot of pleasure in watching him work and sing allday,bringing up his brood,however we were horrified to observe the most recent visitors to the garden(grey squirrels)raid the nest and eat the babies!!We plan to put up some bird boxes and "Fort-Knoxify" them to keep the squirrels at bay...Any ideas on effective ways to accomplish this!?

  • Comment number 23.

    Dear Mr Baker
    I have been trying for several years for someone to tell me how a song bird can apparently sing long passages without taking a breath, it seems hardly possible that a bird singing at times with such volume could be so economical with its breath, or have the capacity in its lungs to do so. I have asked several people who I feel should know but don’t.
    I saw your name on the Autumnwatch site and yours were the only name willing to answer questions, hopefully you will find it of some interest for you to respond, I feel the answer would be of interest to many people.

    Regards Roy Hawkins

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Nick
    here's a bug question - watching a shield bug in the garden yesterday, it struck us that they walk in a rather odd way, different from many other bugs. Hard to describe, more like a quadruped than a bug. Any thoughts on why or is it just us seeing something that isn't?

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi Nick, still kicking myself for not recognising you at Kempton Race course last year even after speaking to you for about half an hour!

    anyway i have a question about creepy leeches!

    My pond is infested with them, they are dark in colour and i've seen them about 2 inches in length, even more when stretched.

    My old pond used to have some in, they were light in colour and very small and only ever saw one now and then.
    But my new pond is teeming with them, and i mean about 3-4 adults under each lily pad as well as hundreds of egg cases and babies!

    My question is, how are they doing so well?

    The only other life in the pond is 1 gold fish and a bunch of snails, no frogs or newts visit the pond and there are no dragon flies or damsel flies in or around the area.

    What are they eating? and how is such an empty pond sustaining literally thousands of them?

    The snails were introduced years after the leeches had been in there, so the only other life in there was the goldfish and one pond plant.

    I would appreciate it if you could shed some light on it, i don't mind them being there even if they do freak me out a bit.

    an also, would they cause any problems if i later introduced other pond life, with there being so many of them?

    Sarah (Stoke)

  • Comment number 26.

    Have you got any ideas of what the biggest sighted galiath tarantula please?


  • Comment number 27.

    We have at least 2 albino squirrels visiting our garden on a regular daily basis. They are quite nervous but are getting braver as we try and entice them with good to come nearer to the house to get a decent picture of them. we live in the London Borough of Bromley.
    Are these quite rare?


  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Nick

    I have a grey squirrel that visits my garden (in a village outside Huddersfield) each morning on a mission!
    I have a narrow border of stone chippings with a smattering of small glass nuggets of various colours. The squirrel goes to my border with the purpose of taking the glass nuggets. It selects a nugget, any colour, by feel and touch using its paws and mouth then runs off over the fence with the nugget. My nuggets are rapidly disappearing! Is there anything I can do to deter this squirrel from stealing my nuggets? It is also going to be very disappointed when it goes to where it has buried them, for winter food! And the owner of the garden it has chosen for this winter stash, is going to be surprised. Any ideas?

  • Comment number 29.

    Wonderful programme. I love it. But please please can we have less of the presenters..however attractive they are...and more of the real wild life with voice overs......Thank you so much. From Sue Davies and all her family.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Nick! my whole class paid a tribute to you in school you are awesome!

    Which animal is your favorite?

  • Comment number 31.

    This is to JSTACE if you do get a picture of the albino squirrels would you post it on the site please.I sure would love to see a photo of them.

  • Comment number 32.

    I keep woodlice as pets (and regularly do outreach activities with them). I would like to keep the Ant Woodlice and the Sea Slater in tanks if possible, but know these are habitat specific. Is it possible to keep the Ant with or without ants and can I keep the Sea Slater away from a coastal environment?
    See website (or Sylvanus facebook page) for details of what I do: www.sylvanusservices.com

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Nick, what part of our beautiful Dartmoor will you be on? Wondered if you were going to Whitsmans Woods (deliberation on local spellings on that one!)to see the wildlife and mini beasts? Is there a differant latin name for the small oak trees there in Whitsman woods? Have a great time, hope the weather holds!
    Best wishes,
    Vicky Redfern. x

  • Comment number 34.

    I live in Sprotbrough near Doncaster South Yorkshire. Every year until now there has been a plethora of blackbirds in our garden and in the autumn (Nov onwards) they are normally eagerly pecking at the apples, which I deliberately leave on the tree. I have counted as many as 12 blackbirds at one time. This year however the blackbirds have all but disappeared. Appropriate food is left on the bird table and on the ground but no sign of them. plenty of finches come to the hanging feeders but no sign of blackbirds. Has anybody else experienced this? Could the cause be a disease? Could the birds be threatened by the sparrowhawk that I have seen around (the finches do not seem fussed)? Could it be that there are so many alternative food around following the warm/wet year that my garden is not an attraction to them?

  • Comment number 35.

    Hello Autunm Watch Team,
    My daughter has posted some pictures on your photo pool on flickr after you mentioned fungi in the last programme, she is just wondering what a few of the names of the Fungi etc are especially the one with the red stuff dripping out of it, nobody seems to know what it is, is it a rare one?
    Please could you tell me? Thanks

  • Comment number 36.

    Hallo Nick,
    I have an infestation of ladybirds in the house.Shall I leave them alone or gently pop them them outside? Not sure where they would be happiest or survive best.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hello Nick
    Like a previous questioner I'm not sure what to do about the large number of ladybirds gathering together inside the window frames of our house. Can they survive the winter, and should we be helping them?

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi Nick,
    When is the best time of year to put up bug, bat & bird boxes on the wall of my house?

  • Comment number 39.

    Can you please identify the following beetle and larva, found in the house. (a) beetle, approx. 2mm long (same size as rape pollen beetle but not hard shell) black with white spot on either flank. (b) larva, 3mm approx. creamy white, brown head, black stripe about two segments back from head, tail section blackish, small black bristles all over. Mainly found in one room, used as study/office, but cantains "resting" orchids. Due to size and squashability, no pictures available. Not an infestation, beetles found regularly over about two year period, poss.monthly. Larva (3) found in last two weeks. MWC

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi nick
    which british bird can move its eyes indvidualy,just like a cameleon.


  • Comment number 41.

    Last night I was astonished to find a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly flying around the bedside lamp in my bedroom. Are butterflies supposed to be around in November? Don't they hibernate or migrate? Thanks, Eliza

  • Comment number 42.

    Walking this morning in a park next to woodland in SE London, i came across a large number of blobs of some substance that i assume is a fungus of some sort. there were a large number of these in longish grass. they are white (although some were grey / black) looked similar to cous-cous grains, and had a cobweb like covering. I counted 30 of them before i gave up counting. Any idea as to what this was? Thanks.

  • Comment number 43.

    I have just been woken up by a frog croaking in my garden pond. (4am)Do frogs croak all year round? I thought it was a mating call. Have I got a late mating frog or is he early?

  • Comment number 44.

    Why do most fish have gills but Dolphins and Whales don't.

  • Comment number 45.

    In our garden we often see a fox and we leave food out for it. It will eat the ham we put out but it takes the eggs and runs away with them. I was wondering how it eats the eggs (does it swallow them whole) and if it could be storing them for the winter.

  • Comment number 46.

    How many species does an oak tree provide food and shelter for?

  • Comment number 47.

    How many species can live in one Oak tree, and why do so many species benefit from one tree.

  • Comment number 48.

    Hi Nick,
    If the Violet Ground Beetle is common, how come this year is the first time I've ever seen one??
    It was beautiful and I'm hoping it's helping my Frogs eat the Slug population!!
    Sue xx

  • Comment number 49.

    tricky question for you nick

    how many diffent types of woodlouse are there ?...................

  • Comment number 50.

    on my way home the other day I notice a rather large female stag beetle it was acting rather strangely it was walking around in a circle as if looking for something what was it doing there?

  • Comment number 51.


    How common are Little Egrets in UK now? Saw two in Dundrum Bay, Northern Ireland last weekend. (White small heron like, dark legs and yellow wellies!) Are they moving north or have there always been some?

  • Comment number 52.

    Hi Nick, In my garden, there are lots of apples on the floor that have fallen off our tree. A lot of them have corlcle shaped crater - holes in them. do you know what could have made these holes?

  • Comment number 53.

    What is the point of asking a question, if there is no answer forthcoming? Please see my comment of 3/11 MWC

  • Comment number 54.

    Last night my son sam found a butterfly in his bedroom it was sat on his bedroom curtains, i have to say i was a little sceptical when he came down staire saying this, i was saying are you sure, its more likly to be a moth, but went to have a look, oh my what a surprise he was right it was a butterfly, it was a red admiral sat on his red curtains. I cant say I have ever notice butterflies around at this time of year before, is it normal for them to still to be found in lancashire at this time of year???
    we have pictures but cant figure out how to add them to this blog

    Diane jackson

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]


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