[an error occurred while processing this directive]
« Previous | Main | Next »

Unsprung: Beat the geek

Post categories:

Martin Hughes-Games Martin Hughes-Games | 10:00 UK time, Monday, 1 November 2010

This week we're going to change Unsprung a bit. It will be more like the Springwatch Pub Quiz that some of you may have seen before by pressing the Red Button.

Curiously, last Thursday, almost double the number of you joined in the footprints quiz in Unsprung, so I'm hoping many of you will have a go at the upcoming pub quiz.

One of the most successful elements of the pub quiz were the "Beat the Geek" questions that you sent in to flummox the experts… and flummox them you did!

We would love to feature some more of your "Beat the Geek" questions, so if you would like to put on the spot Chris and guest, Nick Baker (see picture), leave your questions in the comments below:

To get you in the zone, here are a couple of Beat the Geek questions we used in the SW Pub Quiz:

How many worms live under the turf of a football pitch?

St. Elmo's fire has been observed on which of these: the manes of horses, the tails of foxes or the whiskers of cats?

Now it's over to you. Come up with a question you think might baffle Chris, Nick or both of them and post it in a comment below.

Keep the answer to yourself, at least for now.


  • Comment number 1.

    unsprung is great just thought i would tell you about one of the collered doves that come all the time to the table in our frount garden one day last week one of them flew towards the front room window landed on the window sill and spent about 2-3 minutes walking up and down the sill looking in at me and my son if window had been open i am sure it would have walked in it was great to watch it so sure and unafraied.
    Also at work for about two weeks we had a tawny owl sitting in the tree in the shops backyard I have posted a couple of pictures of it on the flicker page name used was salthill zoo keep up the great work love the program.
    A question for chris and nick could be How many feathers does an average bird have.(dont ask me for answer just curious to see if any one knows)

  • Comment number 2.

    When hedgehogs are courting, which one huffs and puffs?

  • Comment number 3.

    If they have a lucky life, which of these would live the longest:
    a pipistrelle bat
    a great crested newt
    a hedgheog
    a tern
    a seal
    a swan?

  • Comment number 4.

    What, if any, is the difference between culling and trophy hunting?

  • Comment number 5.

    Just a suggestion- why don't you post a link to the blog question threads on the main messageboards?
    Most people think that is the place for their questions...whereas you probably don't even look at them.

  • Comment number 6.

    By the way- why can't people start new threads on the messageboard at the moment?

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi dampflippers, we're looking to see what problems might be affecting the messageboard at the moment. Can I also assure you that we are constantly looking at the board. We find it easier to do direct questions like this on the blog though, as it's easier to keep everything in one place.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hello to all,
    I have a Question for the team.
    As we all know there is a shortage of Bee's, and no-one seems to know why for sure.
    In the wild Bee's make honey, what would normally (if man wasn't around) happen to that honey, do bee's actually NEED it? Lot's of people keep bee's and make use of their honey,what if the bee's actually needed it to survive.
    You will probably laugh and have an obvious answer but it just got me thinking. Many thanks Jilly.

  • Comment number 9.

    Beet the geek - Mr P - has the little girl who sent in the poo last week already beaten you? What was it?

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Nick, hi Chris,

    Would like to know why herring gulls are so vocal on our coast, yet you cross the channel and they are basically silent! Obviously the gulls swap sides between Dover & Calais as many follow the ferries across, so they are the same gulls. We have puzzled over this for years but no-one has yet been able to explain why this is! Same in other places around the British coast; any herring gulls following fishing boats are very noisy, but around the coast in France, they are quiet!

    Thank you

    Loving the shows!

    Maria in Shropshire

    PS to Nick - any new series of Weird Creatures in the pipeline?? Used to LOVE that!

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Guys,
    Here's a tricky question, similar to the earthworm question
    How many moles are found in an ordinary acre field???

  • Comment number 12.

    A question for the geeks:

    How fast can a pigeon fly, and how fast can its heart beat?

    Thank you

  • Comment number 13.

    It was interesting listening to Chris Packhams comments last week about how much it is acceptable to intervene with nature when you are monitoring them as a scientist, or as a camerra man. I wonder then what Chris thinks of the many wildlife hospitals that are in the Uk. I only ask because I have recently started working in one, as a volunteer, and I have found myself questioning what difference they make, especially when treating things like grey squirrels, or pigeons that have been attacked by crows. When humans are the cause I understand, but when were not, with the mortality rate being so high, maybe we're just prolonging the animals suffering.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Chris & Nick!
    What is the maximum distance a squirrel can jump?
    Gail :-)

  • Comment number 15.

    Ok.. i have a few bird questions (as a potential twitcher)

    a. How many specific types/groups of feathers do birds have?

    b. I've heard that birds have one of the most complicated respiratory systems of all animals?.. explain?

    c. Why are birds called 'Birds' (maysound silly but genuine question!)

    Best regards..


    PS Loving AutumnWatch... stunning images!!!

  • Comment number 16.

    1) What is the appearance difference between a Willow and a Marsh tit?

    2) what is the true difference between a long sleep and hibernation?

    3)why are deer one of the most prone species to die of shock?

  • Comment number 17.

    When most insects and flies are not about (for instance, in winter)
    how do Spiders catch enough food in their webs to survive?

    During the winter months, birds roost in great number in nest boxes , to keep warm. Will different species share the same box ?

    What category of birds (for example- Thrushes , tits, finches)
    does a Robin fit into? or is it one of a kind?

    (aged 13)

  • Comment number 18.

    how long does a snail live? do they get slower with age?

  • Comment number 19.

    When geese or ducks fly in a skein or 'v' shape how is it decided who flies at the front? I have always wondered this.

    By the way, Autumnwatch is one of the best programmes on TV!

  • Comment number 20.

    A couple of questions:

    1) How many feathers are on a average sized bird, like a robin?

    2) Why do no British birds hibernate?

    3) Why do swallows leave Africa?

  • Comment number 21.

    A man EATING IN A CAFE, talking to a twitcher, is told that although there were no rarities spotted that day, the man has shown BY HIS ACTIONS the three birds the twitcher DID spot. But what were these three birds? Can you name them?
    At that time, in the late 1920’s, the Fens was one of the last places in the U.K. to carry out what practice to certain wildlife?
    Which lover of nature artist suffered an ill wife, all the housework to do and a crying child to look after before they could continue work on their masterpiece, sometimes into the wee small hours: D. Cox who painted “A Windy Day”, H. William who wrote “Tarka the Otter”, or Sir I. Newton and THE apple?
    Which wild place in England (this place not being Yorkshire), is it said by even the reputable, that there are areas on it where dogs will not go near?
    Which one of these (sort of) describes “Loopers”: A “bendy” caterpillar of a certain moth, a “purring” wild cat as it entwines itself around an object, or a “tight” weaving conger eel as it “Congas”?! ;-)

  • Comment number 22.

    On Monday, 1st November, my husband and I were walking on Morden Bog in Wareham Forest where we were watching large red damselflies mating and laying eggs in the ponds. Is this unusual for November?

  • Comment number 23.

    Why does a bee die after it has stung someone, but a wasp can keep on stinging?

  • Comment number 24.

    What is the most unusual "pet" you had as a child?
    Or- list all the wild creatures you kept as a child.

  • Comment number 25.

    I Live quite near the Mersey estuary and am a regular visitor to WWT Martin Mere (all year round), and I am a huge fan of watching migrant birds. I regularily watch Whooper Swans and Pink footed Geese during the winter months and was wondering. What is the mortality rate of these birds in the UK and Ireland compared to the mortality rate overseas (through natural causes and old age)?

  • Comment number 26.

    I have been trying to work out how many birds use my bird tables, as I suspect there are hundreds.
    I decided the only way was to count the number of sun flower seeds I put out for them. This came to 33,600 in the big feeder at the back of the house and 9000 in the smaller one at the front of the house. About 9000 would go from each in a good day. My question to you is how many seeds will a small bird (tits and finches mostly) eat in a day.If I knew this I could estimate the number of birds coming. No big birds can access these feeders but the smaller ones come in large numbers.
    This is the only way I can think of counting them because it is impossible to tell by watching them which are new birds and which are returning ones.
    Charles Briscoe

  • Comment number 27.

    Why do wagtails ... wag their tails?
    is it to help them balance... impress a mate? or does nobody know?

  • Comment number 28.

    I was once told by my maths teacher that all flowers with petals have a certain number of leaves, following the Fibonnaci sequence, recently seen in the Da Vinci Code, and they never deviate from this. Only having either 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 petals and so on....
    Is this true and can you tell me why?
    Thank you very much

  • Comment number 29.

    I have what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder - I dislike the term as all it means is that my biology dictates that I sleep when it is dark & wake with the light, meaning I sleep much more in the winter & less in the summer, the problems occurring because society expects us to be awake for equal times all year round & frowns on the fact I need to be in my PJs by about 4pm on a winter's afternoon!! I know that diurnal animals work this way & will sleep for longer periods when there is less light . What I would like to know is do nocturnal animals have different brain chemistry to animals such as ourselves that are awake during day time hours & are nocturnal creatures affected by the shortened day-light hours of the winter months?
    Thanks, Jo :-)

  • Comment number 30.

    I watched a Crow flying near a flock of seagulls today, twice the Crow dropped some food from it's claws and swooped down to catch it before it hit the ground. It appeared to be taunting the gulls who were flying around squawking. Is this common among Crows, or do we have a local joker?
    pamela brown

  • Comment number 31.


    Some intriguing questions; I'm looking forward to any geeky answers ...

    Here are a few more, only partially serious -

    - when was that great pic above taken?!?!

    - maybe of little interest to others but, why do all naturalist/bbc/wildlife/photgrapher type folk seem to wear their watches low down on their wrists (as do I, but just for reasons of comfort)? and also, often, on their right rather than the more usual, left wrists (boringly, I'm only ever a left wrister! - tho' no offence to you, Nick, as I now see that you seem to be the exception which proves my rule ...)? Is it to do with camera etc equipment often being on the left wrist or does it stem from something more cryptic (sinister even!!)? Not that I get bored watching your TV progs.or anything ... just something I keep noticing and have wondered about for quite a while!! (Oh dear, I've just realised - "Monk" 's on TV whilst I'm typing this ... uh, uhh ... check!!)

    - How do those that decide such things decide which Q's/messages/photos etc to look at and, having done that, then decide which Q's to answer,(see*below) photos to feature, posts to use on the shows etc?! You obviously get 1000's of all sorts of submissions and, even with your large army of helpers, I'm sure you can't possibly sensibly sort through all of them, but the answering of viewers' Q's seems particularly quixotic ... (I wonder if any of my own vital Q's make it through ...!)

    - Possibly related to the above Q but I'm sure that many of us would be interested in any answer - Do either of you geeks (or indeed any of the presenters) ever look at the AW website/Flikr photos/posts etc, particularly in preparation for the live programmes?? I assume most of the research and pre- and post-production compilation has to be done by "non-fronting" folk, researchers, producers etc, but I wondered how much input you yourselves might have and how much interest you are able to take in this VAST collection of info.which is being gathered by the BBC.

    Thanks geeks (and any additional geeklets/geeklings) and good luck to all!!

    - * (On which note - Can anyone advise why my few photos that AW have kindly chosen as "Favourites" don't ever appear in the AW (main page) photostream?? (v pleased, proud - and surprised - to at least make the "cut" but it would still be nice to see them "on-line" - and, presumably, for others to be able to see them too?) I mark all my shots as "private" but I've since tried changing the "favourite" ones to "public" and they still seem to be skipped by AW's streaming ... (although now, many weeks on, I've managed to see my selected photos where just a blank white square used to appear in the bottom right corner!). I believe that I initially got a rather odd message from the Flikr admin.that it had elected to make my photo private, or something along those lines, but I haven't managed to find the message anywhere since and it hasn't reappeared subsequently. Is there something else I should be doing differently?? I have asked previously but I'm not sure that anyone's seen my Q either! Sorry, but this autumn is my first exploration of all things Flikr and I prefer to proceed cautiously (bad earlier experiences with i/d theft, PC corruption etc ... and I'm only just now gearing-up for Broadband/Wifi ...). Thanks for any help with this, and thanks anyway to whoever chose the photos even if not many people are ever able to view them.)

  • Comment number 32.

    And now for a somewhat more serious Q, mainly re a hopeful identification of a great-looking BUG -

    Not sure that it was quite into autumn, but a few months ago we again saw what we regard as an exotic-looking creature in our tiny patio garden on the eastern edges of the City of London. We have seen this creature in several previous years, although only fairly infrequently, and I'm afraid we don't have any photos of it so I hope my description suffices for identification purposes ...
    It is some type of insect, which also appeared this year for the first time on the balcony of our nearby "office" flat (in case this helps re habitat etc, the balcony faces away from the River Thames and is several storeys up). The insect seems to mainly like investigating warm brick walls (and I think it generally appears during warmish, sunny weather) - is it maybe seeking possible nest/hibernation sites, for either itself or young (or even both)? From memory, it is probably about 3/4" long, with a VERY thin dark body (possibly petrol blue, slightly irridescent in colour when examined closely) and it has a truly bizarre long, deep-red sac suspended from its body (presumably a blood sac although I'd love to know its exact purpose ...!). Although, as mentioned, it seems mostly to be preoccupied with "buzzing" the walls, it also sometimes hovers over the plants, and I think I have also seen it briefly investigate water on occasion (although it looks nothing like a mosquito). It is a truly wonderful looking creature, especially when one can see it up close, and we really love and eagerly anticipate its return each year. Even though it honours us with visits only so occasionally, we feel very privileged that it selects our little patches of "nature" to explore - and we've never noticed anything even remotely like it anywhere else, either in the UK or abroad (although others will doubtless find it a ubiqitous nuisance!). Are you able to advise what this bug might be and provide any info?? Thanks v much and, as ever, we're really looking forward to the next show - two geeks for the price of one, Superb!!!

    Although, as mentioned, I sadly don't have a record of this wonderful creature, I have posted a photo of another, similarly unidentified, very beautiful bug (and its "doings" ..!!) who also loves our outdoor spaces (and also, particularly, trains ..!). Hope that nobody's too offended by this (well meant) use of "poo" ... or any overt/over-anthromorphism, or indeed, by anything else! And thanks for any views - literally ..!

    (plus PoxoW)

    (And here's a mention, for Bonfire Night (remember, remember ...), for Mum and Dad (RIP) and for dear RCP (Happy Birthday on Monday! - and for me and J on the 14th!) and all of our widely-flung but oft thought of families - you never know who's watching!!)

  • Comment number 33.

    OK - following the visit to Mull - a sea eagle question!

    If the sea eagle is the 4th largest eagle in the world - what is No, 1, 2 and 3.


  • Comment number 34.

    In the pond in the centre of the copse near where we live on the Isle of Wight we have been watching tadpoles swimming all year - all through the spring, summer, and even this afternoon in November. We can not understand why they are still there, swimming about and feeding on the debris floating in the pond. Why are they not maturing ? surely there is'nt spawn still being produced and developing into tadpoles.
    Any explanation ?

  • Comment number 35.


    Here's the link for Beautiful BUG i/d ... Thanks! TB/EB.

  • Comment number 36.

    Why do most birds of prey have yellow feet? And why do they start off a blue colour?

  • Comment number 37.

    I always feel at odds with the 'Cat protection league' when asking this sort of question... But given that pet cats in the UK kill in the order of 55,000,000 birds(yes, that's 55 million birds)a year...What sort of impact do the 'Geeks' think pet cats have on our rarest amphibians and mammals?? like the Great Crested and Palmate Newts, Natterjack toads, Water, Greater White-toothed and Lesser White-toothed Shrews, Water, Bank,Orkney and Skomer Voles and not forgetting the Yellow-necked Mouse.
    And what is the best way to keep cats out of my garden ??

  • Comment number 38.

    how many red squirrels are there in the uk approx

  • Comment number 39.

    Beat the Geek Question! Why have ladybirds around the uk started to thrieve in such large numbers in so little time and how many species are there in the uk.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi guys
    I would like to have this proved, both my cousin and I are frustrated when people call birds at the seaside seagulls, isn't the correct term gulls? My dad does it just to annoy me, please prove him wrong.

  • Comment number 41.

    Question: What links a gannet to the Scottish islands Sula Sgeir and Bass Rock?

    Answer: Both of these islands commemorate the species' old scientific name, 'Sula Bassana'.

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi, yes here is one for you. this afternoon at about 5.oclock in a stubble field in suffolk I estimate about two hundred crows in the middle of the field congregating on the ground and then taking off in a upwards flight which i can only desribe as funneling vertical and back to the ground again a few times and then settled on the ground as if they are settling in for the for the night but as they would do normaly in the trees. can you explain please as i have never seen this before, by the way the sun had already set. from Les.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hi team, just a short question why did a pheasant and one of our chickens ended up on our window sill in the evening light, we did have our lights on. Les.

  • Comment number 45.

    can you please tell me why Hen Harriers are so named, a question from jane.

  • Comment number 46.

    My question (or rather my daughter, Izzy's, question) is about migration:
    What creature participates in the planet's most massive migration (over the smallest distance)?

    Good luck!

  • Comment number 47.

    RE: the pub quiz

    A. what happens to red deer antlenrs once shed?

    B. do deer always keep the same shape of antlers each year?

    C. whats bigger the red deer or the roe deer

  • Comment number 48.

    OK, I've got two questions for you to try and answer.
    1. Do birds see in a 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional way?
    2. We all know that spiders have a fair few eyes. So why is it that they have to feel out vibrations in their webs with their legs to find their prey?

  • Comment number 49.

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

  • Comment number 50.

    whot british raptor has a lord and a r.a.f jet in its name?

  • Comment number 51.

    question for chris, which eagle as the most powerfull grip, and how powerfull is that grip??????

  • Comment number 52.

    how do moles meet?

  • Comment number 53.

    whots the average number of spots on a ladybird?

  • Comment number 54.

    Is there a decline in starling numbers this year? We have only had five in the garden since the start of October, a big drop in our numbers.

  • Comment number 55.

    whot is the biggest fresh waterfish in british rivers?

  • Comment number 56.

    I believe the Tawny owl is the only owl that does the classic ''Too-witt-Too-woo'' hooting, firsty is this true and secondly what do the other types of owls sound like if they dont 'hoot' and when is the best time of year to hear them, i.e are they more vocal at certain times of yearor are they vocal anytime

  • Comment number 57.

    Why is the car killing off the Garden Sparrow?

  • Comment number 58.

    What were the first and last known mammals to become extinct in the u.k. This question is for my son who loves wildlife and autumnwatch thanks

  • Comment number 59.

    Q - Name the 4 types of animal that won the World War 2 Dicken Medal between 1943 and 1949?
    A - 4 types - Pigeon; og; Horse and Cat. It was awarded to 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses and a cat.

  • Comment number 60.

    Oops, hope I didn't annoy too many people in too many ways y'day - or create/cause any infringements ... if so, sorry! Also, I'd like to say how enjoyable we found last night's main show - lots, lots more Nick Baker and his bugs plse! Pooey Packham and Buggy Baker - geek heaven! I haven't seen Nick on TV for ages (sadly, I missed his "Weird Creatures") and loved his calm, informative, interesting delivery on AW (really excellent, just nowhere near enough of it!! - and, as ever, what's going to happen to all those wonderful viewers' Q's ..?!). However, no special CP Geek feature y'day ... or sightings of Chris' classic "chrome" caravan (v envious! - altho' his NF house and the location don't look so bad either ... getting increasingly jealous now!!)

    Anyway, thanks v much to all, TB/EB et al.

    PS - If you could plse provide a link to the great gentleman shown with Nick filming the incredible spring-tail I'd really appreciate it, especially as I'm hoping to train in this type of "close" photography. We hugely enjoy these special segments which have also featured on several previous seasons' shows (in fact, is there any chance of posting info.on ALL these great guest experts that you've featured in recent years??). All very inspiring (inspirational?) and I'd love to follow any links you can provide. (Although I'm almost longing now for the AW season to end as this is frankly all getting beyond obsessive and I'm in danger of losing the rest of my life ... !! Definitely a case of "I've started so I can't finish", I'm afraid ..! Anyone else "suffering" like this??!)
    Thanks again.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.